SUBSIDY REMOVAL BROUHAHA; LET US THINK By Kassim Afegbua
In the last few days, infact, since President Tinubu made his inauguration pronouncement about subsidy, tongues have been wagging as to the propriety of this declaration. Let us first establish a few basic facts that are eternally unassailable. One, all the major contenders for the number one position, promised to remove subsidy during their campaigns: Peter Obi, Atiku Abubakar, Musa Kwankwaso and Bola Tinubu. So, whatever President Tinubu has said and done presently is in fulfilment of his campaign promises. Two, how he goes about it is a matter of style, choice and approach; what is sacrosanct is the fact that he said he would do it. Peter Obi called fuel subsidy “organised crime”, Atiku called it the cankerworm that has held us down for years, and promised to privatise the NNPC, and Tinubu saw it as anti-growth and anti-development. What I can say at this time, is that President Tinubu’s approach to dealing with it by declaring subsidy “gone, ” the very minute he took over the reins of power, is an inkling of how this would be a strong leadership. It looks to me like he decided to face the hardest of choices and decisions from day one. Strong and strategic leadership come with taking bold and firm decisions, once the real gains are known. Strong political will gets the job done by constructive and bold decisions that are no respecter of persons. It is surely expected that those economic predators called marketers would also invest heavily in the media to blackmail government and raise public angst against the decision; corruption is said to always fight back. Albeit, a government that knows its destination would keep its eyes on the ball, without dithering, in order to get to her final destination soonest.
The present Labour leaders are traditional opposition leaders and voices as we all know. Ajaero, the NLC President is a supporter of Labour Party and Peter Obi, their presidential candidate. I hope he hasn’t forgotten Obi’s position on subsidy when he campaigned. Ajaero should realize that we have since moved away from partisan solidarity to national patriotism, and we need to collectively guard our loins to get our desired results for the overriding good of us all. Now that subsidy has been removed, we need to think deeper and wider, to generate ideas that will help cushion the impact. The government is already thinking about ways to mitigate the ramifications of her decision, knowing full well that those predatory marketers would stop at nothing to disrupt the process, in order to control the public perception and have their way. We have spent trillions of naira on subsidy claims, resulting in our infrastructural and developmental decay. Marketers take our imported fuel to neighbouring countries to sell, and come back home to enjoy another round of profits in the name of subsidy. It has been a two way traffic of economic wastages, and plundering of our resources. We need to invest in infrastructure and welfare: rail, education, roads, health, housing security and the economy. Only a couple of days ago, the newly sworn-in Governor of Zamfara state reportedly declared a total of N9trn naira as the value of his assets before taking office. Questions should be asked as to where and how a 55 year old man acquired such a humongous asset value. He may very well be one of the unseen hands in our subsidy claims debacle.
A leadership that is ready to fix Nigeria must be prepared to step on sore toes. It cannot happen along side business as usual. Our figures are just not adding up. Deliberate steps must be taken to arrest the drift in our national income and revenue to keep the country afloat. The realities are not cheering news. Our debt to revenue ratio including GDP has become alarming, declining at a nerve racking rate, with no end in sight. Our total debt portfolio has become a disincentive for all rational thinking investors. We all must now support our new President to get things right. We must join hands together, and with his to achieve the desirable results for our collective good. Nigeria must work!!!! Making it work optimally is our collective responsibility. The President alone, cannot do it. It requires our effort and support to sustain the momentum. Please let us not continue to politicize our growth and development. We should know when to put aside politics and look at the bigger picture in the interest of our nation. Subsidy is a crime that has eluded the grip of previous governments in the last thirty years. Now that we have a new president who has the courage to remove the “organised crime, “ we must encourage him to pursue it to a logical and most beneficial conclusion. If you love Nigeria, support this initiative and let’s relaunch our country on the path of growth, development and prosperity. The pains will be short lived, and the gains will last for aeons in our collective national history. God bless Nigeria, her president, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and all Nigerians.