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.