Guest Focus

A vote for removing (Political) Subsidies

It seems fairly settled that the Goodluck Jonathan administration and his cohorts – in the business as well as political sectors – are dead set on removing so-called fuel subsidies in a matter of weeks. Nigeria’s dispossessed majority should, I suggest, serve notice of their determination to resist this heist that’s being cloaked and sold as sound economic policy.
Greed and callousness seem to be at the heart of the crusade to hike the price of fuel products. The argument has been made, at the state and national levels, that fuel subsidies guzzle resources that should be invested to provide absent, much needed infrastructure. This argument would have a measure of traction in a political space run by serious-minded, visionary leaders.
Nigeria is far from being such a space. It is, instead, the fiefdom of the most inveterate gluttons and fraudsters who can’t spell the word vision, much less demonstrate it. Most of Nigeria’s political authorities, whether local government councillors, commissioners, ministers, legislators, governors or the president, are driven by the impulse to put away as much of the nation’s resources that’s within sight as possible. Few, if any, of them spend even a few minutes a day meditating on what it would take to transform their country to the same level of development as obtains in the European, Asian, or North American nations where they relish to luxuriate.
I have always felt that Nigeria is engaged in the wrong subsidy debate. For one, it is not clear at all that what Nigerian officials call fuel subsidy really exists – as opposed to being official hocus pocus, a kind of manipulative game. In fact, it’s been suggested by those who ought to know – including former Minister Tam David-West and economist Sam Aluko – that the nomenclature of fuel subsidies is a cloak for a massive, mindless corrupt scheme. There are anecdotes of mindless fuel importers who collude with venal government officials in multiple tripping scams, whereby each shipment of refined fuel is counted numerous shipments. The game ensures obscene windfalls and levels of profits for unscrupulous bureaucrats and corporate profiteers. There’s something callous about seeking to foist the burden of corruption on Nigeria’s most vulnerable, already deeply pauperized population.
But even if there’s an animal called fuel subsidy, and even if it gobbles up a huge chunk of the nation’s resources, it does not follow that erasing the subsidy is the way to go. Why has the government not focused, first, on building more refineries in the country? Some official apologists are wont to contend that the government is a wretched player in the business arena. And that the more astute private sector investors are wary of the government stipulating what they must charge. If the government’s reported ineptitude constitutes legitimate grounds to avoid investment in new refineries, then why don’t we invoke the same argument to privatize all aspects of the government? After all, Nigerian governments have proved awfully incapable of providing security, healthcare and electric power, running schools, tarring roads, curbing or prosecuting corruption, and holding credible elections.
Besides, why has the current government failed to probe what happened to the billions of naira invested in refurbishing the country’s four refineries? Who pocketed all that cash? Whose collusion enabled the illicit transactions to proceed?
A major plank of the government’s case is that the artificially low price of fuel products foments cross-border smuggling of petroleum. That contention is nothing short of the Nigerian government‘s implicit admission to being derelict. If a country that maintains a full complement of security officials as well as customs officials at border posts cannot curtail the smuggling of tanker-loads of fuel, then it is more floundering – even lost – than one ever suspected.
It was only the other day that labor negotiators managed to wrest a minimum wage of N18,000 for Nigerian workers. In fact, many state governments are still holding out, protesting that they lack the funds to implement the minimum wage. And yet, two or three Nigerian friends could enter a restaurant and spend more than N18,000!
One is aware that some critics of the minimum wage are quick to accuse Nigerian workers of indolence, an allergy to assiduous work, and of being notoriously unproductive. You won’t catch me denying any of these charges, or defending them. I’m all for holding the Nigerian worker – by all means – to a much higher level of productivity. I have had occasion to upbraid Nigerian civil servants for slumbering on their jobs, displaying terrible manners towards the public, or adopting an attitude of nonchalance towards their tasks.
Still, the Nigerian worker’s unimpressive work habits pale when juxtaposed against the shoddiness and mediocrity of most Nigerian politicians. Each member of Nigeria’s parliament in Abuja rakes in more income every three months than President Barack Obama makes in a year! Each Nigerian governor’s monthly security vote is enough to pay Mr. Obama’s salary for four years – with cash left to spare!
And therein lies the tragic rub. Nigerian workers, professional groups and opposition forces ought to tweet a clear message to Mr. Jonathan. They should tell him: “Sir, you’re looking at the wrong subsidy!” If the man is in a haste to subtract subsidies, why, he ought to start by plugging the subsidy called official corruption. If he collected even a mere ten percent of the funds stolen by Nigerian public officials, he is bound to have a hefty purse to devote to developmental initiatives.
At any rate, Mr. Jonathan should be told (indeed, forced by a general strike if need be) to push for a drastic reduction in his own privileges as well as those of his cohorts. Nigerians should insist on removing the millions of dollars that each local government chairman, each governor, each minister, and the president squander on themselves whilst doing largely mediocre, if not wretched, work.
Mr. Jonathan and other Nigerian government officials cannot, in one breath, proclaim that Nigeria has no money and, in another, live opulently off of Nigeria.
Nor should Nigerians take seriously the canard that the government must remove fuel subsidies in order to free up funds to enable massive investment in infrastructural development. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo used that disingenuous argument each time he jacked up the price of fuel. Alas, Mr. Obasanjo had no infrastructure to show for it, but Nigerians certainly experienced a spike in their misery index.  It’s time Nigerians stood up and said to Mr. Jonathan, “Not again!”

The West’s Woods-Ward Walk

 By Eferovo Igho

Powell argued in his Common Market: Renegotiate or Come Out (1973) that Britain must renegotiate the then European Common Market or pull out. Recently, Britain dared Ghana and Uganda for standing up as humans and defending civilization against homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the latter coinage only known to this very decadent age since Adam. Now Britain and Canada are rubbishing Nigeria because the Nigerian Senate wants Nigeria to stay within civilization and be driven by civilized values. Too irksome, the thought of African nations in the Commonwealth renegotiating or coming out builds up inside. But you can’t canvas that yet. We’ll canvas a better alternative hereinafter!
Britain and Canada and the continents they represent are daring us for sure. And whilst still putting this piece together Barack Hussien Obama, hitherto unseen driver of this diabolical assault, openly came into the fray. He has since opened little vent for us to know the real being to expect of him in the days ahead: He ordered all U.S. government agencies, including those handing out aid, to put gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights at the center of US foreign policy and ordered U.S.  Ambassadors to ‘police’ the nations, and promised to take the matter to the global arena where he seats and rides as usurper of sovereignties. If you thought David Cameron originated this idea of withholding aid because Ghana refused to go gay you now know better.  But we can put an end to all these insults only one way.
Reacting to the ridiculous position of Britain I wrote in “Homosexuals or less than Homo sapiens” (Vanguard, Tuesday, November 22, 2011 and various international media) that “My country Nigeria, for instance, if well governed in twenty years can begin to give aid to Britain. We have more than enough resources to do that.” Gordon Brown, David Cameron’s predecessor, just agreed with me few days after that. Speaking very recently in Port Harcourt, Brown opined that “Rivers State is one of the great oil producing states of the world and it has demonstrated its readiness to diversify into other areas. This is another success story of Africa. From the figures I have seen, I know that in the next 20 to 30 years, Nigeria will surpass Italy, Spain and some other European countries.” The answer is good governance.
Good legislation are okay. But good governance; purposeful, assertive, frugal and prudent, endearing and people-oriented, and so result-overwhelmed governance, is the answer. This is what can stop this grossly disgusting assault on values in Africa. It may be this off-putting same-sex marriage today. If Nigeria and Africa play timidly, it may be a more disconcerting human-beast marriage tomorrow.
We hear of animal rights activists today, and we know that many in the West ‘love’ their pets (four-legged friends) far more than humans. Of course, in that now heathen culture of the West (with North America) there are humans copulating with beasts today. What we don’t hear yet are human-beast copulation rights activists! But in the West anything is now possible in the name of human rights. It is almost totally a shameless clime. So, if today this type of rights movement gets off ground there, and graduates to human-beast marriage rights movement, and silly defenders of very nauseating ‘rights’ movements like Cameron and Obama lead them; Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria and all Africa will be expected and called upon to further this jungle walk except we stand up today. And who knows if anytime from now they may be going to the altar with their four-legged friends? It will be ‘human right’ for these people and animal right for those beasts. See where so-called human rights have led us’! Only good governance back home can make us stand tall and make us stand full back to these calls from Britain, Canada and their friends to come join them in the woods.  Africa leaders must rear their heads and govern us well; and those modern heathen nations will begin to listen to us.This perverted modern human rights movement has multiplied ungodliness than we can ever imagine. What with nudity, sexual perversion, sex workers, the multibillion dollar pornography industry, the multibillion dollar abortion industry and murdering of unborn offspring. What with the damning wantonness and vanity fares of Hollywood and its so-called stars; the unholy woods-ward walk kingpins. And what with all the ‘human rights laws’ enabling  everyone to do what he likes; every child to do what he or she likes, and fathers and mothers are disallowed to be real fathers and mothers anymore. They can’t spank in love! This time-tested biblical injunction that has transformed lives, families and nations is taken away from civilization in this walk into the woods. In fact, they have ‘taken God from the classrooms’, and feigning evolutionism before the kids! They say they came from animals and so are now behaving like animals, with even lifestyles strange to the jungles passing for human rights.
They may have led the rest of us at the beginning of this civilization in all that is enthralling. But they should check all indices of development today and see how they are fast walking down all ladders since Sodomy gained steam; attack on godly virtues and divine standard became the rule; promotion of witchcraft and elite cultism webbed many world leaders of all categories; all that is vile and nauseating turning men and women (spoilers of societies and destroyers of values) into celebrities, models and heroes. The West has lost the meaning of values. And that’s just the beginning. As long as ‘human rights movement’ drops steeply from its original rights’ pursuits that were value based and enthralling to civilization; as long as it tumbles dangerously from rights indeed, ‘terrible’ is what serious minds see awaiting them in this sweeping ungodliness. Check through history. God indeed raises and brings down nations. God rules in the affairs of men.
So, the West may have gone wild. We can both sympathize with it and call it to retreat. Else, too bad having a dark continent in our hands in the twenty first century! No, Africa will stay civilized. It will not join in this West’s writhing walk into the woods. Rather, Africa must govern itself well, stand tall above insults and then salvage the West from the firm grip of folly.

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  1. Guest focus | Jewelryfundrai - March 15, 2012

    […] Desert Herald | Guest FocusGuest Focus. A vote for removing (Political) Subsidies. It seems fairly settled that the Goodluck Jonathan administration and his cohorts – in the business as well … […]

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