Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Fuel Subsidy Removal Policy - as I see it

Because I am impacted and some of you may not be, I will express the issues at stake.

I have no problem with removing the subsidy. It is the right thing to do and we should commend the bold and fearless leadership of GEJ in doing this.

However, there are great problems with the way and manner chosen by government to do this -
1. Enough consultation with Civil Society did not take place.

2. The country is at its most fragile situation currently with the rampaging menace of #bokoharam in the north. Common wisdom will expect nothing to be done now to weaken the polity.

3. In that the state of the country's infastructure is deplorable, life, as we know it, is tied to the ability to generate ones power. We all need petrol to generate our own power, run our vehicles, pump water from our wells, run businesses and manage the many okadas that have become the only means of transportation for many. Simply stated, the multiplier effect of the subsidy removal is huge. The poor will no longer afford power, may not have access to portable water etc. As a gesture of goodwill, prior to removing the subsidy, government should have provided some palliatives for the poor - like providing more government subsidised mass transit buses, making transportation free to school children and the aged etc.

4. Finally, a wasteful and corrupt government cannot certainly become prudent just because it has more money to spend. This government is wasteful and need to cut its wastes. The allowances of Senators, the convoy of cars, the corruption in high places. Simply stated, accepting the subsidy removal, seems to many of us, an exercise in giving this government an additional N1.6 trillion for political patronage and money to share amongst their cronies.

Now, my suggestion to get our of this logjam -

1. GEJ should revert the pump price to N65
2. Labor should call off the #occupynigeria strike
3. Government should engage the populace in a performance contract detailing specifically what it will do with the subsidy money. The what, when, where, how. For instance on roads - how many kms, from where to where, how much will it cost, when will it be completed, how will the contract be awarded, who will monitor progress and report to society on performance etc
4. We need to make public and revise the remuneration of our political office holders - ministers, senators, parastatal chairmen etc. These guys get the largest share of the national cake.

..and we all live hapilly ever after.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The IMF Warning for Nigeria...

As the Yoruba will say - "Ewu nbe l'oko longe, longe funrare ewu ni". Simply interpreted, it means there is problem in the horizon. Just this Tuesday, the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde was in Lagos talking to the leaders of industry in a Ministry of Finance/ NESG sponsored Roundtable. I was there, in Eko Hotel amongst many other captains of Industry.

In her informed views, which she termed as collective wisdom, there are great dangers in the horizon and except Nigeria take appropriate measures now, we are not immuned from the happenings in the European Economy which has the ability to be transmitted by such channels of contagion as (a) Trade; (b)Foreign Investment and (c) Remittances.

What should Nigeria do? She advised that Nigeria needs to tighten its budget and plug wasteful spending. Increase the external reserve, that has dwindled from the 2008 levels, especially through the Sovereign Wealth Bond.Nigeria is encouraged to balance its fiscal adjustments with the need to provide growth friendly policies to act as a catalyst for medium to long term sustained growth. All htese should be done in addition to bringing down inflation.

The IMF crystal ball predicts gloom for the global economy and unlike in the previous meltdown, the economic power houses of China, India and Brazil will not be available to act as buffer to the long persistnet resilience that may be witnessed.

For the detailed report, please visit

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nobody changes a society by complaining...Go out and vote

The Lagos State elections into Local Government Councils were conducted today and as has been the case over time, there was general apathy on the part of the elite. The turn out at the polling station was poor and many people chose rather to sleep in the comfort of their homes (aided by the cool weather ushered by the rains) than to go to the polling station to vote.

For the records, again I chose to do otherwise.I defied the rain and was at Ward E of Jakande where I exercise my civic responsibility - to vote. Was I being rational in going out to vote in the light that the majority of Lagosians believed that their votes would not count and that the elections have been worn and lost and the rites at the polling booths are to just give some legitimacy to the schemings that had been consummated before this day? My answer is YES! The majority is just wrong, again and again, in choosing not to partake in the election process. Questions could be asked why this indifference on the part of the majority but the answer is not far fetched. Through experience and observance of the election process from 1999 till date, any rational human will likely come to the conclusion that our votes (we the electorate) do not count. So why did I, despite this apparent problem, defy the rain and voted?

Simply, it is impossible to change a process by standing aloof and being indifferent to the system. Let me say this, in case it was not obvious, to my colleagues and the bugeouise that chose not to be present at the polls today, that election has just sealed the fate of what happens to the roads and services that are the responsibility of the Local Government to provide. By definition, the word Accountability presumes that there must be a prior expectation, agreement or discussion defining the responsibilities of a particular entity or person before one could clearly come and request for a report on how such a person has fared in the discharge of such responsibilities. By not being at the poll, we lost the opportunity of understanding what each contestant has planned to deliver on. We lost the opportunity to ask questions from their agents. More importantly, we lost the opportunity to send a message that we are interested and are watching the political process. Rather, we reaffirmed the belief system of our incompetent set of leaders that they can win elections without making any commitment to the electorate but in settling a few cabals that decide who represents the party. Our staying away from the poll further assures them that their non-performance is of no concern to us. Whether we like it or not, an election took place today and certain elements have been given the constitutional rights to direct the affairs of our local government and development councils for the forseeable future. They have been given the instrument of power to use our taxes and collective resources in anyway they so choose to and our staying away from the poll does nothing to change this. So, what has our staying away from the poll achieved?

An argument that I have heard so often from my fellow citizens (I quiver in using this term for people who failed to exercise their responsibilities) is that they do not have any information to distinguish between the candidates. I am not sure how they wish to fet this information when most of them work far away from their homes where they have registered to vote. I am a witness to at least two (2) campaign rallies of the candidates. More so, the answer to their question can be gotten at the polling booth.

How do we hold our leaders accountable when we don't know them, we don't know what they have promised to do? At the next elections, let us go out and vote. Following the voting, let us make visits to the local government offices and get involved in their programs. We need to refocus our thoughts from just doing what is convenient (sleeping at home on an election day) and do what is right (participate and vote).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Inconvenient TRUTH (TIT)

A simple question, the King in Israel asked
Should we attack OR should we not?
Four hundred prophets, so they gathered
Trembling and fearful
To the Kings, they said
God, to the kings, will hand over the city

The other King, a different spirit had
He of Judah, the true God knows
Isn’t there still a prophet in Israel?
The King in Israel a troubling answer gave
Micaiah, a man can seek the LORD’s will
O, how I despise him!
His prophesy has never been
One of prosperity but of certain doom.

Here he comes, this same Micaiah
Trembling and fearful
Not of the Kings but of the KING of Kings
One message and nothing else he has
That to whatever the Kings will ask
As certainly as the LORD lives,
He will say only what
The LORD has instructed him to say

Micaiah, the prison beckons!
So shouts the loud voice within
Say only to the Kings
That which they want to hear
That which the four hundred prophets
Trembling and fearful, Attested to,
God, to the kings, will hand over the city

Fear the Kings and live
Fear the KING of Kings and go to prison
The choice to Many is obvious and easy
But Micaiah is not as Many
So the narrow path, he chose to tread
As certainly as the LORD lives,
I will say only what
The LORD has instructed me to say

The King in Israel knows
The message was too good to be true
To the King’s question, Micaiah has answered
Attack! You will succeed
They will be handed over to you!

Micaiah you’ve chosen to be comical
The truth, only the truth!
I beseech you to solemnly promise
Should we attack OR should we not?
The inconvenient truth then said Micaiah
“I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains
Like sheep that have no shepherd
They have no master. They should go home in peace”
Attack NOT!
You will not succeed.

Oops, did Micaiah say that much
Is he lacking in tact and wisdom?
Is the King no longer God enthroned?
Micaiah? he deserved what he got
First, it was Zedekiah that hit him on the jaw
And then, it was the King in Israel
O guard, put him in shackles till I am back
A little bread and water, give to him
I will succeed

It is an inconvenient truth to say to the King [2 Chronicles 18] -
“That being the case, hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, with all the heavenly assembly standing on his right and on his left. The LORD said, ‘Who will deceive King Ahab of Israel, so he will attack Ramoth Gilead and die there?’ One said this and another that.Then a spirit 23 stepped forward and stood before the LORD. He said, ‘I will deceive him.’ The LORD asked him, ‘How?’ He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ The LORD 24 said, ‘Deceive and overpower him. 25 Go out and do as you have proposed.’ So now, look, the LORD has placed a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours; but the LORD has decreed disaster for you.”

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Obeying the nation's call

I have always sung the national anthem, both the old and the new, with passion. The passion, then, derived most probably from the beats that went with it. Many of us can remember the school assembly lines of old. Yes, those lines - out in the open, columns of neatly dressed pupils in their well starched and ironed uniforms, singing and marching to the beat of the drums.

As I grow older, I sing the new anthem with a lot more passion, a different kind of passion. A passion that derives more from what the words mean to me and what the words were meant to invoke, in the hearts of my fellow citizens, as the nation calls. It is a very simple call that the nation makes daily to us – to Arise and Serve. In these two words, Arise and Serve, we have the embodiment of the whole national anthem. This call is the message of the first three stanzas of the national anthem.

Each time I have the opportunity to drop my kids at school, or stand at a national event, and I hear the wording of the national anthem, my hopes in the greatness of this nation is rekindled. Rekindled in the sense that I simply know that, out there, just out there, are people of like persuasions as I am that listen to the call and are motivated to obey. I love this call and cease not to think of the many others, who have the same persuasions as I do.

Unfortunately, the nation bleeds and she is dying. As it dies, with all her strength, she keeps calling. The calls, not as strong as they once were but now faintly she cries, as her strength wanes – Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey. The nation is dying, not because she had not cried loud enough for help but because many of us simply did hear but really could not understand her. The few that understood and obeyed took advantage of her. While she called for us to serve, she also dictated the kind of service she needed – one to be done with love and strength and faith. Here lies the crux of the failure, for the majority of the few that obeyed; it was a different kind of service they gave – one without love, without strength and without faith.

As I sojourn through time and places, meet with my countrymen from all walks of life, there is just one question that those who cares keep asking – How do we stop the nation from bleeding to death? As with most manners of breakthroughs, the answer had always been right before us but we knew it not. In this case, the answer lies in simply obeying the call. In doing this, we are called to Arise from our slumber and serve. We are called to serve with love for our people and our nation. We are called to serve with all our strength and with an unyielding faith in the greatness and prosperity of our fatherland. If there is anytime, that it is most important to ACT, the time is now. There are consequences for both our action and our inaction. If we act timely, we can stop the bleeding, wrap up and heal the wounds. If we refuse to act, the wound will become mortal, the nation will die and the blood will be on us and on our generations yet unborn. As we obey the call, it is important that we understand the purpose of the call. Our heroes past had spelt these out in the last stanza of the anthem – To build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

As we heed the call, it is important to realize that the work is not easy and that is why we need strength, great strength, to make right all the wrongs that have occurred. We need also to pray, that the good Lord should guide our leaders right. In our different households, as fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, we are saddled with the responsibility of helping our youths to know the truth and to grow in love and honesty.

The anthem is singing again. Let us listen. Let us obey. Let us Serve, with a different kind of understanding. God bless Nigeria.

Arise, O compatriots,
Nigeria's call obey
To serve our Fatherland
With love and strength and faith.
The labour of our heroes past
Shall never be in vain,
To serve with heart and might
One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.

O God of creation,
Direct our noble cause;
Guide our Leaders right:
Help our Youth the truth to know,
In love and honesty to grow,
And living just and true,
Great lofty heights attain,
To build a nation where peace and justice reign.