My Vote For Subsidy Removal By Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe
Columnist: 
Okey Ndibe

Last Saturday, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan addressed Nigerians for the second time in as many weeks. This time, he attempted a multi-pronged defense of his decision to remove fuel subsidy. It was a woeful failure.

Mr. Jonathan’s defense reeked of platitudes that rang false and rhetoric that came across as cheap and unfelt. Did the president expect Nigerians to buy his statement that he “feel[s] the pain that you all feel,” and that he “personally [felt] pained to see the sharp increase in transport fares and the prices of goods and services”? Did even his speechwriter believe that the president shares “the anguish of all persons who had traveled out of their stations, who had to pay more on the return leg of their journeys”?
 
Jonathan is far removed from the pain and anguish of the vast majority of Nigerians. In fact, he might as well inhabit a different planet from the rest of us. Even if the price of fuel rose to N10,000 a liter, the Nigerian president won’t feel a pinch of it. We, the people of Nigeria, buy all the fuel he uses – and his wife’s to booth.
 
Ensconced in the island of luxury that is Aso Rock, the man has no real access to the grim desperation that defines the lives of millions of Nigerians. It must be abstract for him. If his powers of empathy were engaged, Mr. Jonathan would not have been in such callous haste to remove fuel subsidies – without touching his own (and his coterie’s) perks and privileges.
 
Even if there were an excellent case for removing subsidy, what kind of statecraft justified raising fuel prices on the first day of the year? And, with the country still reeling from the Christmas Day bombings that killed and wounded many and shot the nerves of millions, how come Jonathan couldn’t wait for a week or two – even if the case for removing subsidy was unassailable?
 
The president and his economic team have never made a strong case for the removal of fuel subsidy. What they’ve done, however, is to brilliantly articulate the necessity to commence a fierce – as opposed to feigned – fight against the monster of corruption and the culture of official waste.
 
Jonathan’s current unpopularity owes to two reasons. One is his unwillingness to declare a war against those he and his team have identified as the enemies of Nigeria – a cabal that’s been sucking Nigerians’ blood for their self-aggrandizement. The other reason is that, in a bizarre twist, he chose to declare the equivalent of an economic war against hapless Nigerians.
 
Jonathan and his aides have called the small gang of fuel importers all the terrible names in the dictionary. The presidency has stated that most of these importers have criminally defrauded the rest of us. Nigerians, decimated by these vampires, have no doubt that the cabal steals from them, takes food from their mouths.
 
But then, curiosity of curiosities, Nigerians also know that many of these same leech-importers are friends, allies or associates of the president – and of his aides. Last Saturday, Mr. Jonathan told Nigerians “tough choices have to be made to safeguard the economy and our collective survival as a nation.”
 
A president bent on making tough choices might have started by arresting and prosecuting those who stole billions of naira of Nigeria’s resources. That’s a test of toughness. A tough president would have ordered the Inspector-General of Police and the director general of the State Security Service (SSS) to unmask rogue importers who engaged in “round-tripping” and other scams, and asked prosecutors to put them in the dock. A tough president would have had corrupt officials of the NNPC fired, arraigned and stripped of their loot. There are government officials who collude with fuel importers to falsify import records – thereby facilitating the exploitations of Nigerians. A tough-minded president would have seen to it that these unscrupulous officials were booked, shamed, and forced to disgorge their illicit hauls.
 
If a president who commands all the sectors of the armed forces, the police, and secret agency cannot figure out how to deal with a small band of profiteers, how does he expect Nigerians to trust him with husbanding the savings from subsidy removal?
 
In fact, to remove subsidy on fuel is actually evidence of presidential softness, of a leader unwilling or afraid to make tough choices. Nigerian leaders always find it attractive and easy to take it out on the so-called “ordinary” Nigerian.
 
In a sense, the Nigerians protesting Jonathan’s policy on fuel subsidy are asking him to give the poor a break – for once! They are demanding that the government go after the enemy – the profiteering parasites – rather than piling more misery on the heads of already pauperized Nigerians. They are pleading with Jonathan to, for once, focus on the subsidies that need cutting – those enjoyed by the likes of the president, governors, ministers, local government councilors, and commissioners.
 
Last week, Jonathan announced: “The interest of the ordinary people of this country will always remain topmost in my priorities as a leader. I remain passionately committed to achieving significant and enduring improvements in our economy that will lead to sustained improvement in the lives of our people.”
 
There’s a singsong quality to that promise, and Nigerians have heard that many, many times before. They have heard variations of that pledge from their various governments since 1960. Six times, former President Olusegun Obasanjo reduced fuel subsidies. Each time, the argument was that the savings would be invested in projects that would improve the lives of Nigerians. Where, Nigerians ask, are those projects? If the Nigerian president cannot point to evidence that Mr. Obasanjo kept his word, how does he expect us to have faith in him?
 
Mr. Jonathan’s answer was to slash the salaries of his ministers by 25 percent. But that’s a token gesture, at best. In last Saturday’s speech, Jonathan declared his determination “to leave behind a better Nigeria…” Then he contended that this would entail striving “to have the resources and the means to grow our economy to be resilient, and to sustain improved livelihood for our people.” Then this: “We must act in the public interest, no matter how tough, for the pains of today cannot be compared to the benefits of tomorrow.”
 
Determined to take him at his word, I hereby propose that he support the removal of more objectionable subsidies that are not only indefensible but also injurious to his goal of creating “a better Nigeria.”
 
First, he should immediately withdraw his budget proposal to feed his family and the vice president’s with close to one billion naira. A billion naira is – wait for it – more than six million dollars! The American president is paid $400,000 a year, and he must pay for his family’s meals from his pocket. The Nigerian president should not only offer to buy his own food, he should also nudge governors to do the same.
 
Mr. Jonathan should also champion the removal of obscenely corrupt subsidies called security vote (for himself and governors) and constituency allowance (for Nigerian legislators). On average, each Nigerian governor collects N300 million each month as security vote. That sum is enough to pay the minimum wage of N18,000 to more than 16,000 Nigerians! The so-called security vote should be used to train and equip the police, the military and other security agencies, not handed to public officials – who then route the cash to their bank accounts.
 
Even if Nigeria were awash with wealth, it would still be offensive to splash sums of $1.4 million (for members of the House) and $1.7 million (for senators) each quarter in the name of constituency allowance. If anything, given the size of the National and state legislatures, a cost-conscious Jonathan should advocate having lawmakers work part time. There’s no compelling reason to maintain thirty-seven full time legislatures in Nigeria.
 
I’d like to see President Jonathan push to sell off all the airplanes in the presidential fleet. If the British Prime Minister doesn’t own a jet, nor does a relatively rich Singapore, then there’s no excuse for the president (and other officials) of a country as economically wretched as Nigeria to have several planes.
 
Finally, Jonathan should demonstrate his tough-guy image – and his commitment to a better Nigeria – by empowering Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies to go after the country’s corrupt elements, including the profiteering cabal gorging on fuel subsidy. And he should show that he wouldn’t shield his corrupt friends or associates from prosecution.
 
Endnote: Nigerians should be disturbed by Jonathan’s recent public statement that Boko Haram has infiltrated every sector of Nigeria – among them, the legislature, judiciary and, even, the president’s circles. Is there any worse indication of a country that has collapsed unalterably? Even if Jonathan’s claim were true, should a president give his imprimatur to such damning, grim disclosure? Can one imagine the Pakistani or Afghani president telling the world that Al Qaeda had entrenched itself within official machineries of the state? Having confessed to Boko Haram’s deep entrenchment, Mr. Jonathan might as well have signed the instrument of surrender!     

Please follow me on twitter @ OkeyNdibe

(okeyndibe@gmail.com)

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Can u verrify that wikil

Can u verrify that wikil leaks says he has transferred millions or billions of dollars...??? l;et them publish it.

subsidy is not sustainable in the long run

no time is the best time to eliminate this waste called subsidy.it should go now that we have a president with the will to do the needful.

in the long run, the country cannot sustain this constraint to growth, as we have seen from the senate report that the numbers of interested importers grew with each passing year. a time would have come when virtually the entire budget would have been devoted to sustaining it.

sacking officials:the gains to be made outweighs the consequences of been caught.as many times as you replace them as many time would the mindless thief grow in sophistication. the incentive is just too tempting.

even all this black market activist will only temporize but ultimately will team up with the cartel, so called,against us. bola ige,with all his activism, as the boss of nepa under obj had controversy about cash lodgement against him at the national assembly before he was brutally murdered.

let the subsidy go. it is the best bet against the ravens.

If you know Nigerian history

If you know Nigerian history you will not call south eastern Nigerians saboteurs. The Yorubas are the architect of the present day Nigeria. The south easterners should and must stay on the sideline until the Yorubas fight their first war. Demonstrations don't cut it.

OIL SUBSIDY REMOVAL DEBATE

In reality no responsible government should sustain importation of a product which lands @ N145 per liter only to sell @ N65, considering demand of 40 million liters per day. Definitely the subsidy is outrageous. However, the issue is why should Nigeria be importing PMS? A country producing 2.5mbl/d of crude,with 4 refineries allocated 445,000bl/d to refine, and remember the new PH refinery was designated an export refinery! This is the dilemma that should be addressed, but if the government decides to import PMS from the moon, it isn't the citizenry that should bear the brunt of that irresponsibility. Excuses of cabals,porous borders and costs comparison do not hold water as they all point to weakness in governance. Fix refineries and allocate crude @ locally justifiable price and Nigerians will buy products at reasonable prices without government subsidy. Period.

Fuel subsidy or wealth creation?

You see, we Nigerians are not saying NO to deregulation, but I believed we are telling our leaders ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Check d history of all their singing is dsame tune, issue of power, how many times huge amount of money is budgeted 4 same purpose, instead of moving 4ward but backward is d case. Most after winning or manupulating electing we say 'IS ALLAH THAT GIVE POWER/POSITION 2 WHOM HE WISH', but we 4ged dat 1 day WE will all return 2 HIM & explain all we deed, Not dat HE did not know. 1day a drunk thief entered a compound n steal, as he sence movement 2wards him, he then bend down thinking nobody can see him. Leaders should rethink n do what they are there 4 as our slaves.

GEJ - Nigeria's misfortune!

Will someone be extra kind enough to sponsor and pay for the translation of this Okey Ndibe's appropriate commentary to Ijaw language or dialect for the exclusive benefit of and clear understanding and appreciation of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. This should enable him to realise the extent of his deliberate falsehood on the matter of oil subsidy, his incompetence and disqualification for the job he assumed on May 29, 2011. He was never born a leader but had that role thrusted on him by some strange misfortune that befell Nigeria!

@Okey Ndibe..., Having

@Okey Ndibe..., Having confessed to Boko Haram’s deep entrenchment, Mr. Jonathan might as well have signed the instrument of surrender! Case closed!

GEJ Lacks the Ability to Lead Nigeria

GEJ hasn't really disappointed the few of us in the South of Nigeria who never voted for him in the last Presidential election.I believed,and still believe,that Mr Jonathan lacks the requisite competence to address 1/6 of the problems of Nigeria.A serious country is never ruled on basis of 'luck'.Mr GEJ has no agenda,but depends on ideas foisted on him by textbook experts like Okonjo-Iweala,Barth Nnaji and propagandist like Peter Obi.

@ Deri - A question for Deri!

With reference to your post about DANGOTE. Are you sure you are referring to the same DANGOTE that President Jonathan eulogised and spoke eloquently about before AWARDING HIM THE SECOND HIGHEST NATIONAL HONOUR, usually reserved for IMMINENT PERSONS and Vice Presidents? I don't think so! The President must have been referring to his twin or another DANGOTE!

i think its in bad taste for

i think its in bad taste for you to try & make this an ethnic thing, ur statement is too sweeping & inciting. Its on record that its in the south-east states that markets & vehicular movement have continued since monday. Should we now say that Ibos are in support of subsidy removal? No, many prominent Ibos & not so prominent are in the fore-front of this struggle.
Be more mature in ur thinking & analysis especially in such a period as we are in now

Why does everything in this

Why does everything in this country is seen by my Igbo brothers as victimisation? By brother grow up. The fight for subsidy removal is for all NIGERIANS.
We in the west (Yorubas) never support the govt of Obasanjo, what did your brothers do at that time, they join his govt enmasse? pls go search your record.

For any govt that comes in, we the yorubas are almost on the opposition; keeping the govt in check.

What does you the igbo brothers do? right now , there are no cases of strike in the east. So how do you explain this. sabboteurs.

Are we ready to fight corruption

Even the Occupy crowd in Lagos are not ready to fight corruption honestly. When Femi Kuti was addressing the crowd and mentioned Tinubu as one of the Corrupt Nigerians who should be dealt with for Nigeria to move forward, he was shouted down. Does this show people who are honestly protesting against corruption. The occupy thing is being sponsored by corrupt Nigerians who stand to gain by weakening the government.

GEJ feels the pain

"..Jonathan is far removed from the pain and anguish of the vast majority of Nigerians"(Okay Ndibe Sahara Rporters 10-01-12).If someone can stay in the comfort of another nation and feel the pain of the common man in Nigeria and contributes positivly tru writtings.what makes you think a "rich" or a "government official" in Nigeria cant still feel the pain on a common Nigeria.Comfort and compassionate mind is a common factor here.GEJ feels the pain

can u imagine the minister of

can u imagine the minister of labour and productivity emeka wogu....saying 80% of vehicles in Nigeria are running on diesel....i guess he must be retarded...

really!!!?

Wikileaks advices that Nigerians should get informed and stand for their human right or bow down to the dictatorship of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

Wikileaks admits of having in their possession secret/classified documents of bank transaction of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan transferring 23billion dollars from Nigeria excess crude oil account and 80billion dollars from Nigeria foreign reserves account to his private account, that the removal of the country's fuel subsidy is a way of covering his tracks.

Wikileaks advices that to triple the price of fuel in the Nigeria, an under developing country of a population of 150million citizens, will increase inflations by 120% and devalue the country's currency by 50%, I.e citizens will have to pay double the price for a commodity(goods and services)

www.pastebin.com/5CLk0fZe

HAS ANYBODY SEEN LABARAN MAKU ON ALJAZEERA?

IT IS A PATHETIC SHOW OF SHAME. HE EXPOSED HIMSELF TO RIDICULE WHEN FACED WITH SERIOUS QUESTIONS FROM SERIOUS JOURNALISTS. NO WONDER GEJ AND HIS GOVERNMENT IS CLUELESS. THIS IS A MUST SEE FOR ALL NIGERIANS!

@OBI MOORE:I HATE CORRUPTION.

I will never in any way support corruption,I know and I have written severally about the corruption and the spendtrift attitude of the Jonathan administration when the masses are suffering.However the northerners and the yoruba only demonstrate when it affects them,they have been sharing power with each other over the years excluding the SS and SE.OBJ administration stole Nigeria blind,the Hausa-Fulani dictators stole and killed in cold blood.I do not justify corruption because of what we have gone through in our recent past,but nobody should even think about removing or assasinating Jonathan,I will personally turn into a militant if that is attempted,he was elected and we have a constitution.meanwhile the massacre of Ndigbo is normal and does not deserve any attention from the stupid protesters.

YORUBA MONSTERS AGAINST PRES. JONATHAN

Why are the Yoruba people the only region in the South of Nigeria opposed to the removal of oil Subsidy?? They collude with the Hausa/Fulani Oppressors; who reap where they did not sow to defraud the rest of Nigerians. The Oil Subsidy removal is the best policy that President Goodluck Jonathan has ever embarked upon to redress Imbalance in our welfare system so truncated by those against fairness and equity. More Yoruba millionaires emerged during the Inhumane Obasanjo govt. Hausa/Fulani also made their millionaires through oil not flowing from kano or Sokoto.

odoo!

LET THE ARMY STRIKE IS ALL I CARE!WE NEED A NEW PAGE.ALL CORRUPT LEADERS AND THIER FAMILIES SHOULD BE KILLED.THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING

Re: THIS IS THE ONE THING THAT BAFFLES ME, OKEY

You, sir, are a very wise man.

And just to add to your point: I wonder how the ordinary man on the street is supposed to feel when the man that controls the whole security apparatus is crying out for our pity. He's hobnobbing with IMF and the world bank and that most racist and evil of humans called Sarkozy and making a mess of a nation he met as one entity... can he be any more clueless so? What a moron for president.

@osita DIOKA, I disagree with

@osita DIOKA, I disagree with you on this one, I supported Jonathan same as you, but in this issue of Fuel Subsidy Removal, the President is wrong. The policy is actually meant to undo him; let us reason with our head, those Governors urging him to remove fuel subsidy in order for them to have more federal allocation were actually the same people who coarsed him to share the funds in the excess crude acount during his time as Acting President. Most of the Governors that got that allocation cleverly move it to foreign countries, the likes of ex-rogue Governor of Imo State moved Imo State allocation to South Africa where he bought a five-Star Hotel and other properties. Some of the current Governor's today are urging Jonathan to disregard Nigerians, it is either they want to crash his Government or simply motivated by their greed to have more money to loot away.

@Deri,i'm from oil producing state too ok,the only difference is

 

A'm from the oil producing state too if you want to know,  the difference between me and you is that my eyes are well open than your ogogoro eye ok, either you are my people or not if you do wrong am not afraid of pointing a finger at you unlike a villager like you that always play tribal games, all the thiefs that we call leaders in our region is people like you that made them get away because of your ignorance thats why i hate your comments infact everytime i read your comment i see you as waste to the region.

THIS IS THE ONE THING THAT BAFFLES ME, OKEY

"Endnote: Nigerians should be disturbed by Jonathan’s recent public statement that Boko Haram has infiltrated every sector of Nigeria – among them, the legislature, judiciary and, even, the president’s circles."

WHERE IS OUR INTELLECTUALS THAT THE PRESIDENT WILL MAKE SUCH A STATEMENT AND NOBODY IS WRITING ABOUT IT? THANK YOU OKEY YOU HAVE SHOWN THAT NIGERIANS THINK. LET ME EXPLAIN THE UNFORTUNATE STATEMENT FROM A NORTHERN POINT OF VIEW. HE MADE THE CLAIM IN A CHRISTIAN GATHERING. AND ACCORDING TO THE STATEMENT THE B/H MEMBERS MUST NECESSARILY BE MUSLIMS FROM THE FAR NORTH. SINCE THEY ARE EVERYWHERE HE MUST REFERRING TO THE CORE NORTH! SUCH A DIVISIVE FIGURE WITH THAT LEVEL OF PARANOIA SHOULD not BE PRESIDENT. WHAT HAPPEN TO THE CORE NORTH VOTES THAT HE GAINED?

Re; one-nija

@Deri, is that you? what did you drink today? Subsidy removal is meant to punish the masses than the purported fuel Cabal, it is the masses that will experience 200 percent rise in transport fare. it is the same masses who will pay for high cost of food stuffs, the same masses will pay for Landlords Rent increase. Nigeria does not have low cost housing for her citizens like other countries in the world. Everyone is on his own. But removing subsidy will simply means government abandoning the people to their fate. Nigerians say they do not want you to remove it, what different does it make for Government to abandon subsidy and allocate one Trillion for Security. What better way to secure the people than making life bearable for them. Extreme Hardship as being proposed by President Jonathan is an open invitation to anarchy.

What other option?

It seems that we do not have any other alternative than a military putsch. The reason(s) is not far-fetched. For one, Jonathan and the legislators are not ready to reduce their monthly income or benefits. Two, the governors will not part with their security votes. Third, the president is unable to stop the corrupt oil cabal. Fourth, the civil service is embeeded in corruption and there are no checks and balances. Who then can change this?

You have spoken well.

With that, if all are done, my vote is also for subsidy removal.

time to say good bye--to each other

@Yom Yom, you like most 9jas from non oil producing enclaves, often resent with a great sense of injustice and unfair play any efforts to redress the interplay between oil and gas exploitation and ecological degradation which often necessitates the need foir the injection of funds for the rehabilitation, management and sustainable transformation of the endangered Niger Delta region. You have become so daft, you are not even aware that, 9ja is only nation where rents and royalties from oil and gas exploitations, are paid to the central purse in a purported federal system, instead of the oil bearing communities. See, where the struggle to unseat GEJ lies. Sadly for us, some foolishly back the idea, thinking such an act will pave way for them to recolonise us again in the south south-its just a pipe dream-abiola and ken were killed and nothing happened. So Gej can also be killed by Buhari-nothing will happen--I cry for 9ja my kont3!mLet them try it as bakare ordered them to do biko.

kill Gej as ordered by bakare-use d army if u can-animals

@Yom Yom, you like most 9jas from non oil producing enclaves, often resent with a great sense of injustice and unfair play any efforts to redress the interplay between oil and gas exploitation and ecological degradation which often necessitates the need foir the injection of funds for the rehabilitation, management and sustainable transformation of the endangered Niger Delta region. You have become so daft, you are not even aware that, 9ja is only nation where rents and royalties from oil and gas exploitations, are paid to the central purse in a purported federal system, instead of the oil bearing communities. See, where the struggle to unseat GEJ lies. Sadly for us, some foolishly back the idea, thinking such an act will pave way for them to recolonise us again in the south south-its just a pipe dream-abiola and ken were killed and nothing happened. So Gej can also be killed by Buhari-nothing will happen--I cry for 9ja my kont3!mLet them try it as bakare ordered them to do biko.

The issue is for us to talk and go our separate ways-biko

Most of you are so criminally minded you can change day into night with yr lies. The person who raised the alarm over fuel importers purchasing petrol from our refineries and often allege that it was imported from Venezuela, and paid in hard currency, was OBJ. He asserted that he had evidence of all those involved in the said deal. He even went as far as mentioning Dangote among others. Why did OBj not send Ribadu after dangote and tinubu before he handed over to late Yara Adua? He OBJ advised us to end the importation of fuel. But did not have the courage to implement the plans. After all the fuel importation deal has been going on for over 30yrs. So, why blame GEJ? @Yom Yom, when was Bayelsa state created u fool. The first capital of 9ja was Calabar. Lagos state attracted special funds for development which late Ribadu used in transofrming Lagos in 60s. Before the Britsh left they urged the powers that be to declare Niger Delta an area for focused development not abuja.

@Deri

Man, you dey try o. You're a pan-Africanist one moment when it suits you, the very next you're a tribalist... but it's very clear that what you truly really are is just an ethnic scum-sac!

Anyway, what you're saying about resource control would have made some sense to a lot of people had you not been the most terrible, sadistic, ethnic bigot this forum will ever know. And here's what I think of it:

it will make the other sections of the country go back to the basic and diversify their economies. Unfortunately, it may also lead to you all in the ND continuing the fight and killing off one another because "your oyl". Abi no be the same ND Henry Orka and Alhaji Dokubo come from?

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