There is no noise as loud as the silence which is a product of injustice- Creative mind… The masses are silent but their heart mourns.
The 1st of January, 2013 marks a year of the removal of fuel subsidy by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A brief reflection on the past revealed how the policy was brought by the government in the midst of insecurity, poverty, health challenges, economic instability and the immeasurable challenges of nation building. In my opinion, there were three groups that took different view-points on the removal of fuel subsidy: the government and the controller of the nation’s power house, the long suffering Nigeria (masses) and the group that believes in acting on results and consequences.
The first group includes those that are determined to make the nation progress by “force”. they are the political prophets because they see what they claim the masses can never see, I remember vividly how their arguments were coming from areas the masses could not even imagine, how they foretold the future of a nation which will be great if the fuel subsidy removal policy is actualized not minding the wails and cries of the masses who knew next to “nothing” and how in their psychoanalysis, a load meant for an elephant will be carried by a mouse. The second group is the collection of the masses, they were never in support of the policy, and they do not want their problems complicated by a policy which will certainly hurt them today to probably heal them tomorrow if they do not get crushed on the way. The third consisted of observers, they knew the fuel subsidy removal idea was a great one, they are aware of how it helped Ghana, and they also knew what the government of Ghana did for his people before fuel subsidy was removed. The last group was the one I belonged to.
In honour of all patient Nigerians, it is essential for a rational, articulate and unprejudiced analyst to review what Nigerians have witnessed since the government did us the favour of removing fuel subsidy. I know no thought through and outspoken man will tell us to wait for a million years before we can conclude. At least, a book half-read can be evaluated. Nigerians are no longer drawlers whose words should be taken with flippancy nor are they naïve babies who cannot distinguish good from bad. This is an opportunity for Nigerians to pause for a moment and reflect on what happened 7 years ago. The subsidy that was removed on diesel and kerosene all in the name of nation building has not made any difference, the prices of these commodities still remain as high as ever and there is no indication they will drop. Yet, nothing came out of it, security, education, standard of living, nation building are all in a state of contemptible dismay and emotionally lacerating.
A moment to pause and consider some of the arguments of the political prophets: It was argued by the government that only few Nigerian benefits from the subsidy and that these people share it as a national cake. Also the government argued that the policy will expose the corrupt ones and fight corruption. Without sentiment, the argument is intellectually stimulating but it becomes misleading when some of these cabals were caught and nothing happened. Do I need to remind Nigeria of the $620,000 bribery scandal that has now turned into a political draught game? How the sacred cows have turned Nigerians to a mere comedy audience with their calculated methods of evading the punishments they well-deserve. It was also the argument of the government that N479 billion will be saved from subsidizing fuel and that it will be used to build infrastructures for the people, the begging question is doesn’t the government squander more than this every month? What is the assurance that the same thing that happened to the mind blowing dollars won’t happen to this? Some money stashed away by the late military head of states was recovered few months back, how many infrastructure has the government built with it? What happened to the billions recovered from Tafa Balogun, Joshua Dariye, Alamieyesegha, Bode George, Cecilia Ibru and the endless list of power-drunk official robbers and celebrated money-launderers? Nothing! Rather, they were paraded for looting, tried in luxury, convicted in their comforts and celebrated for going scot-free.
As for me, the removal of fuel subsidy at that material time is faulty and questionable. Leadership extends beyond travelling far and wide all over the world all in the name of the nation’s love; it extends beyond claiming a certain percent of office is held by women. Nigerians do not care even if goats are in office; our ultimate concern is positive and reasonable results. In my little illustration, a leader is like a tall man who is to embark on a journey with a short man (follower), for the journey to be fruitful; the leader must always be ready to bend to the level of his followers and understand them or perform the sacrifice of lifting the short man up to his level for them to reach a convincing and not a coercing or confusing conclusion. This, undoubtedly, the government of Nigeria has failed to do with impunity. Nigerians are suffering day and night; the United Nations Human Development Index puts Nigeria at 159 out of 177 countries, with 70.8 percent of the population living on less than $1 a day. Yet, the government was bent on making life more horrible. Nowhere is safe in Nigeria, schools are targets of bombers, houses are burn down while places of worship has been turned into the house of death where the certainty that one will come out alive is not sure.
If people found guilty of corruption can still go unpunished after the government argued that the removal of fuel subsidy will expose and punish corrupt leaders, if news of bombings has become a daily expectation in Nigeria after the government promised the fuel subsidy removal will help in securing lives and properties, if robbery and other crimes are growing at a very high speed despite the pain the masses are suffering, who will come to benefit from the tomorrow that may never come? It is not just impossible but also ridiculous to assure people of a better tomorrow by killing their today.
I am a young and passionate Nigerian who can never be told to shut up on issues that affects my motherland. At least, I have witnessed the thick and thin despite my age: the military, the democratic, the honest leaders’ regime, and the looters’ reign which is villainous for punishing the poor. Boss, I promise I shall tell your tale to generations unborn. When it comes to leadership, God forbid any one from making you a role model.
Mr. President, I do not know what tomorrow will bring and I was about to give you the benefit of doubt to see if there is any light at the end of this channel you are leading us but I know what tomorrow should bring and hence, I disagree to agree with these policies of yours because whatever one sow, he shall reap. Now that you have sown poverty, pain, insecurity in our nation, it is only a celebrated nonentity that will tell us tomorrow will grow wealth, relieve and security.
To the special advisers of the cabinet whose river of good advice is no longer flowing, why not just resign instead of brandishing your pen at the masses that got you there? People only resort to abuse when they run out of logic. Are the members of the President’s cabinet short of reason? You call people pessimist and short-sighted who does not know Mr. President. What else are we to know about him? Call us pessimist and I will call you myopic patriots with sinister motives who only use sight without foresight.
The political prophecy of President Jonathan, the economic analysis of Okonjo Iweala, the monetary policy of Sanusi Lamido, the activism of Comrade Oshiomole and the sole opinion of Madueke are not just what the government should consider but the pleas of the masses, the fate of the dying, the feelings of the hungry, the present situations of Nigerians and the future of our nation because there can never be a tomorrow without today. Tomorrow starts today.
By Ogundipe David Oluwasegun