On a day of global celebration having ushered in a new year, Nigerians were particularly elated. Going by the numerous natural and man infused challenges in 2011; Nigerians deemed it fit to approach the New Year with all sense of duty and appreciation. This disposition ought to pave way for a memorable celebration even with the constant security lapse and a fresh threat of New Year day bombings tagged ‘mother of all bombings’ by the sect Boko Haram. Like every other citizens of any nation, people were filled with the euphoria of a new day, appreciative of a new month and resolutely aware of a New Year. Merry event started unfolding with great optimism of a better 2012 only for Nigerians to wake up to a gruesome announcement of the removal of fuel subsidy as has been gradually planned by the federal government. Before the announcement by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), it has been predicted by keen economic observers that the promise of GEJ, publicly announced by the economic team coordinator and minister of finance Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, that government has no plan to remove subsidy in January could be a mirage, an executive decoy to mislead the various human right groups and every anti-subsidy removal arrangement. Such promise from the presidency was laudable but for the same presidency to renege on it is repugnant. It intensifies the true but unbelievable notion of our president being deceitful.
His first deceit to Nigerians came across in form of his perceived humility and loyalty, exuded in his unwillingness to step into office during his predecessors medical ordeal and eventual death. A calculated step at misleading the entire nation making us think he was the humble messiah we have all been waiting for. Before the general April 2011 election, GEJ engaged himself in a meeting with labor and agreed on a minimum wage of 18000 Naira but also renege on it after he became the President. His reason was that the 2011 appropriation didn’t make provision for the minimum wage increment. Hell was almost let loosed before he eventually succumbed and adjusted.
From the beginning of debates and consultations on subsidy removal between the economic team and stake holders, a request was conveyed to GEJ and his economic team for clarification, on how government plan to spend the accruable fund from the removal of subsidy and also, the issue of accountability and transparency was raised. The common man, whose trust in the government has been eroded by consistent failure to be accountable, and lack of political will to implement policy, wants to know how the same government won’t deny them the dividend from subsidy removal like they have done with the dividends of democracy. There are public records of government ineptitude at implementing the budget yearly and no one has been brought to book. Each allocation for road reconstruction comes in handy every year especially Benin ore road, Lagos Ibadan road amongst others and till date, no physical effort has been made.
The military rule of over 15 years subjected Nigerians to an authoritarian rule by decree. Representative government is the only dispensation the ordinary man can relate to but unfortunately, each terrible civilian administrations since 1960 sprouts a more despicable democratic rule, marred with ingenuity, corruption, embezzlement, killings, electoral malpractice, distrust, unconstitutional misappropriation of funds: making the rich, richer and poor ,poorer. Political hooliganism, crime and now, terrorism; an act alien to Nigeria has become the pride of the North.
GEJs administration has consequently been marred with dishonesty, exuding an unwitting attitude towards ameliorating the suffering of the people. His weak, unpresidential approach to issue of national importance has placed him under public surveillance of doubts and regrets. His misdemeanor towards the Boko Haram activities, his action during the judicial shameful display of ethic lacuna, his tenure elongation agenda, his quick foreign policy at accepting the ouster of the former Libyan president that lead to the death of more Nigerians, his shameful public acceptance of not being Pharaoh like and many more has no doubt left indelible doubts on peoples mind about his true strength.
However, the subsidy removal deceit, being the recent mind game GEJ played on 160 million Nigerians is highly undemocratic and unacceptable. Why would the president of the federal republic of Nigeria give misleading information on the date he proposed to remove subsidy if indeed his aim is to turn the misfortune of the nation. Why was it difficult for the president to convince Nigerians on the gains he and his economic team see in subsidy removal and explain the short term pain we will go through? Why is it that it’s only his cabinet and PDP caucus that could understand subsidy removal motives? Several platforms were arranged; numerous opportunities presented itself to GEJ and his team to enlighten the public: finance minister held various press conferences, forums and the town hall debate while GEJ held various meeting and a media chat. Why couldn’t they use this medium to convey the supposed good will message in terms and language a lay man can relate to. Rather, GEJ adopted a deceitful strategy instead of a convincing remedy. 160 million Nigerians are not daft, he could have given us benefit of doubt; tried more to enlighten us by exposing us to the inherent benefits in subsidy removal.
Having personally studied various deregulated sector in some countries and the aftermath, conclusion could be drawn of a possible economic transformation if subsidy removal proceeds are properly managed. Proper channeling and reinvestment of every penny as promised will engender innovative achievement but with the recent presidential lackadaisical attitude and successive sarcastic reaction to the yearnings of the people, there is the need to dread GEJ’s promises of accountability, transparency and economic revitalization. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. GEJ should not worsen our situation like Babangida did in 1986 when he introduced structural adjustment programs which is the genesis of our economic malfunctioning.GEJ as a leader is expected to have answers to our socio-economic problems. He accepted to offer his best the day he took the oath of office and Nigerians expect him to proffer solution to the excruciating hardship. On this, it’s highly unexpected of GEJ to deceive us as Nigerian would originally accept whatever policy he as a leader believes would work. Subsidy on PMS for now is about the only benefit Nigerians are getting from government. Thus, its removal should come with a resounding explanation and conviction of a life changing aftermath and not a forceful deceit.
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