Fuel Subsidy In A Collapsing Economy? By Moses Okpogode

Moses Okpogode 2
Moses Okpogode

If I have to borrow from Senator Ben Murray-Bruce’s tweet from last night, he wrote: ‘As I tweet, $1 sells for over ₦250. The economy is no respecter of All Progressive Congress party or People’s Democratic Party, therefore let’s put aside differences and face this economy’. But these would seem his personal business and opinion because Nigerians are yet to wake up from the political divide created in the wake of epic victory that not just upstage the PDP but also President Goodluck Jonathan. The most traumatized, ridiculed, demonized, judged, but yet to be crucified President and now also labelled the most inexperienced to have ruled this country.’
On the train to Aso Rock, professionals, especially the media and its practitioners, were torn against each other in a coliseum of gladiators built, developed and controlled by them. They pitched tents and picked holes in the policies of the Jonathan administration, convincing the electorates that there is no hope but on the hurricane that is bringing change to Nigeria. What they didn’t picture in all their analysis and conclusions was the structures that make up government, governance and the defect that exists in the Nigerian federation.
Of note is the policy on subsidies on refined petroleum products, most of which is imported. The previous administration received a lot of bashings and was castigated but still, the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari has persisted with the same fuel subsidies despite dwindling resources due to the about 60 percent fall in the price of oil in the past year and the accompanying strain on public finance.
The most ridiculous of these issues is the over N413 billion paid by this administration in six months in dressing up the leprous drenches of subsidies quietly as it watches the countenance of Nigerians on the way to go so as not to incur their wrath, having rode with the APC into Aso Rock through both promises to, sympathies and hopes from the people in reducing the hardship brought about by the umbrella party who ruled the country for 16 years.
This I feel is atrocious as it beclouds the fate of the nation’s economy that is pitched in incalculable social infrastructural deficits and economic deficiencies. Media houses have long sunk into their shells and the great ‘Lugulas’ who held sway on social media and the civil societies are now mouths without tongues because they mortgaged their morals to emotions. Now that their morality is required to save the masses their faces are wrinkled in shame. Still reeling in revulsion over the roles they played at the time they should have supported the removal of subsidy but didn’t and instead insisted on a subsidy must stay campaign. Posterity didn’t wait long to judge us for our conscious or unconscious recruitment into the political battle that began in 2012 at the Ojota shrine where the ‘Occupy Nigeria’ dance silenced subsidy, emanating with the support of yesterday’s oppositions but today’s ruling party.

In all, the Lagos controlled mainstream media is the most culpable and has suffered serious knocks from which it is yet to awaken in the aftermath of the charade that has unfortunately glued its feet to the ground like the man suffering elephantiasis; weighing the options of standing on the fence or disagreeing on the subsidy subject.
Should we then continue on this path of continued subsidies that is draining our commonwealth in the face of dwindling resources because we are turned or tilted to angles of argument on the way forward for the country? Capital No! Elections have long been won and lost. There is a president, those who are being prosecuted over one allegation or the other are facing the music alas the economy must not be allowed to collapse as it does not have a boundary line for the two major political parties and their supporters. A crumbling economy has the signature of every Nigerian on it, a reason no Nigerian citizen here or in diaspora has the right to remain aloof while the naira turns to paper money or even pretend that the country will remain a force to be reckon with in the comity of nations or pride as important within the West African sub-region.
We must put a stop to the divestments that is ongoing over fear of the unknown by major investors in the country. We can’t pretend that Aliko Dangote is finding ease at investing in Zambia, Cameroun and other African nations against his own Nigeria over higher returns, dividends or the fun of it but for the lack of policy direction on the economy that has set in. It is a bad signal for everyone including foreign investors that are willing to berth in our ports, unto our lands. Even the World Bank, though often misunderstood by lay men like us, is begging Nigeria to remove subsidy especially in the absence of refineries that won’t be turned around just tomorrow.
Before my birth the Chinese have started hanging their corrupt officials and are yet to stop doing so but corruption still thrives in China at any loop created to sustain such inordinate practices. All that Nigerians need is an increasing supply of the human essentials against demand and the reductions of restrains in obtaining services to ease the burden of pains from arrows struck at government and its officials who are today’s magicians to the masses.
A reason I am in support of the removal of fuel subsidy so that the same books President Buhari once revealed can be easily manipulated by Nigerians should no longer be the case as he has also started paying subsidy claims. A call on the President to also act in the full insignia of his office and cabinet, telling Nigerians on where he stands at the time of its trials including that of fuel subsidy or its removal and not the fever with which National Planning and Budget Minister Udoma Udo Udoma and his colleagues announced to journalists last Monday that the Federal Executive Council is still considering its position on the matter amidst uncertainties in the operation of petroleum marketers and biting fuel shortages.
I also call on everyone saddled with responsibilities of making things right in the country to take their duties seriously to ensure we do not retrogress but surpass our previous attainments as a nation. Not even a room at remaining stagnant on pretenses of an overwhelming cesspool of corruption despite foreseen impressions and indications before the ruling party’s ascension to power will be accepted.

Moses Okpogode, resides in Abuja

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