ARTICLE: This is worse than subsidy removal by Niyi ADEBAYO
When the Buhari Government signed PIB into law, it looked like a much expected divorce paper from the various shady deals in the Nigerian Oil sector.
With sufficient explanations from the government and the agitations of several people in and outside Nigeria, I also believed fuel subsidy was a cancer that had stayed in our system for too long and had to go. So, when His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced that ‘subsidy is gone,’ it didn’t look like something unexpected. I still commend my president for that boldness.
Of course, so much money is being saved and the governments at state and federal levels have more funds to share. The pain of fuel subsidy removal is deep and excruciating on Nigerians but we consider it a necessary price for a better and more developed Nigeria. Interestingly, almost all major presidential candidates promised to put removal of subsidy on the front burner if elected.
More painful than the concomitant effects of fuel subsidy removal is the waste of the gains of fuel subsidy. Distribution of food items, especially in the Southern and Western Nigeria is, IN MY OPINION, a wanton waste of resources… Management of the yields of the subsidy removal requires more intelligent administration than what we have seen in some parts of Nigeria…
Sharing some bowls of imported rice and all that on the streets is not a brilliant response to our pain, if we must be factual. WE WERE READY TO REMOVE SUBSIDY BUT OUR GOVERNMENT IS NOT PREPARED ENOUGH AS TO HOW TO MANAGE THE GAINS…
It’s a show of shame and absurdity to engage musicians to sing around and sharing food on the streets like some political rallies or community carnival. Definitely, that’s not for the poor but for those who can fight their way through. Some old women who attempted to collect the package were rough-handled by the area boys who were on the loose untamed!!!
We need a saner approach to this matter, else this palliative thing may be worse and more offensive to the psychology of the poor than the subsidy thing itself. Why take the headache and leaving us with a migraine??? Where is dignity? Where is self esteem? Why is every government intervention supposedly targeted at the poor ends up enriching the rich and the greedy instead?
What I think we should do
1. Create an objective and truthful data collation and analysis to know who and how to reach the poor. Such data don’t exist in reality… That is the metaphor of our sorry state as a country at war with itself! Nigeria is blessed with enough brilliant minds who can organize our data systems.
2. Pending the outcome of that first exercise, let a substantial fraction of the subsidy gains go back to the health sector. Let the poor pregnant women, children, aged, physically challenged and unemployed people have access to absolutely FREE or massively subsidized medicare… Let’s improve the conditions of our public hospitals. This will touch on every poor home.
3. Reduce drastically the cost of electricity in lesser cities and rural areas. This will touch the poor…
4. Fund primary, elementary education and technical schools such that notebooks and textbooks would be almost free in rural areas and lesser cities.
5. Let part of the fund be available for young entrepreneurs, artisans, private school operators etc as revolving loans managed/supervised directly by the CBN with clear sanctions on agent local banks that divert the funds. Let the interest stay at a single digit.
6. Improve the conditions of our tertiary institutions and fund more expedient researches without hiking their fees frivolously.
7. Adopt most beneficial deplorable roads in each LG Area and fund their reconstructions massively. That touches on the poor and the rich.
8. Let the prices of fertilizer and other things needed to boost agriculture drop. This will encourage local productions. Let tractors and other mechanized farming implement be made available for farmers to hire at low cost. IT’S SHAMEFUL TO KEEP SHARING IMPORTED RICE AND CLAIM WE WANT TO DISCOURAGE IMPORTATION. Let our rice meals be supported, not just on the television but in reality… Stop meeting farmers in Abuja; meet them on their farm settlements. Revive or reload FADAMA, OYSADEP and more…
9. The rich may not be able to manage the poor with absolute sincerity. The poor people don’t trust the rich because some of them are the reasons the poor are getting poorer.
Let’s have people from the grassroots on the teams that are out to reach the poor… Identify some selfless and forthright people in each LG, clerics inclusive and let them be parts of the scouts. Not everyone in the society is driven by greed.
Some private citizens who haven’t gotten close to public funds in their lifetime run some more efficient welfare interventions for widows, orphans, physically challenged, destitutes and other people with social and economic challenges MORE PRODUCTIVELY THAN WHAT PAST AND PRESENT GOVERNMENTS ARE PUTTING UP. Let’s not witness the type of school feeding charades that never fed any serious number of hungry school children in the past administration…
10. I don’t know how to reach the government. If you find one or two things in this write up useful and you share with others, it may get to them one day. That may be a ‘palliative’ from your end…
Conclusion: The intentions of our governments may be good but, I’m too sure their strategies require some holistic reviews. We should not spoil a good case with a bad approach.
Adebayo is founde and pastor of True Worshippers Church (TWC), Amazing Grace Garden, Oke-Anu, Ogbomoso, Oyo state.