By Kunle Oyatomi
We are already a hopelessly â€œderegulatedâ€ society. Everything about us is no longer, by any means, regulated. Government, politicians and economic miracle workers believe that the only way we can enjoy a better life in Nigeria is to be economically socially and politically deregulated.
Look around you and feel; stop a while and think, and you wonâ€™t be far from being correct, if all around you, what you see are the effects and consequence of this magical word called â€œderegulationâ€.
We started this bloody journey down the deregulation way when we removed the regulation cover on our currency.
At that time the naira was so strong, it was some 60-68 kobo to the dollar.
Then some political wizards and economic magicians came on board to say that with a strong currency, we could not progress and compete at the international level. â€˜So if our standard of life and the well-being of our people must improve we needed to bring the value of the naira down a little so we can make progress.â€™
Patriots fought a fierce battle against naira deregulation but lost. The â€œmagiciansâ€, â€œeconomic miracleÂ workersâ€ and the criminals won, and they pulled the naira down.
Today, as consequence of the collectiveâ€ miracle wisdomâ€ of these people we now have to pay 150 times more money to purchase what the underegulated naira could have bought before the naira was â€œkilledâ€.
Not satisfied with this â€œsuccessfulâ€ devaluation of the naira, we set out to deregulate education. And the result is that few Nigerian workers who are not thieves or frauds in one form or the other can afford to send his/her child to a de-regulated school.
They call it private schools, and somewhere in VictoriaÂ Island alone you need as much as N5,000,000 to send a child to secondary school every year, for six years!! That is the â€œbeautyâ€ of their deregulated system of education. A lot of Nigerian children are now fleeing the country, not to pay less but to get out of the rot that has become prevalent in both standard and stability.
When we set out to deregulate the naira and the educational system, those in charge promised a better life for Nigerians. But is that true anywhere in the country? Now take a look at these:
â€” â€œDeregulatedâ€ standard of living in Nigeria has brought poverty to Nigerians in spite of the fact that there is more money than we have ever earned in the good old daysÂ of our strong naira.
â€” We set out to deregulate the power sector only to find out that our good old Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (E.C.N) was a more reliable institution than the spectre of a PHCN and its many â€œderegulatedâ€ parts.
â€” Deregulation went so berserk that we also extended it to the civil service, and the beauty of that today is that daily, the magnitude of looting of the nationâ€™s treasury is so frightening that hardly any value is added to the so-called service which the civil servants are expected to give to Nigeria.
â€” The most stupendously ridiculous deregulation exercise which Nigeria is being forced to implement is in the oil sector. Before deregulation of the naira, fuel was around 12 kobo per litre. Today, since the lie was told that on the long run deregulation will bring down prices, our experience has been devastating.
We are made to enjoy (through deregulation) one of the highest cost of fuel anywhere in the world for an oil producing country. Yet these â€œmagiciansâ€ and â€œeconomic miracle workersâ€ love the country so much they want us to pay twice as much to buy a litre of fuel as is now the price.
And in all honesty, these people tell us that they are doing it in the interest of 21st century best business practices which thinks first about profit not about the welfare of man.
Wait a minute: these smart guys arenâ€™t done with us yet. Now we are made to rent accommodation in the hundreds of thousands of naira or even in the millions because, oh dear, the cement industry has become â€œderegulatedâ€.
When we were not yet victims of deregulation, cement used to costÂ N6 but now the price of cement has been deregulated to N1,650Â per bag. So what!! Isnâ€™t that the first lecture you get from the IMF… â€œDevalue everything and your life will improve, your economy will flourish, your citizens will prosper etc etc.â€…
How true!! All around us is prosperity turned on its head, and Nigerians are dancing naked before a â€œgolden calfâ€, shedding tears of blood because either the economic managers are bad or the leaders are simply looters.
Deregulation has deregulated our live so horribly, we might need divine intervention to re-regulate this country before we can make any sense of it. It is that bad!!
Nigeriaâ€™s Education, one of the worldâ€™s best?
That is the strong opinion of Professor Peter Okebukola who I had a brief, almost explosive encounter with at the Abuja airport last week.
This reporter was trying to feel out the Prof. on what he thought about the UNâ€™s representatives bleak picture of education in the future if the current rot is not corrected.
The Prof will have none of that â€œnonsense.Â â€œNigeriaâ€™s education and the standard here is very high, among the best in the world, I can tell you that with authorityâ€, he said.
According to him, Nigerians are fleeing the system not because standard are in any way low, but because there is instability in the system (the school calendar especially has been rubbished by resulting in strikes).
The only way he thinks this instability would be effectively addressed is for government to deal with individual university on its own merit. â€œCollective bargaining with a central union is not the solution,â€ says the professor. â€œWonâ€™t that amount to â€œdivide and rule?â€ I remonstrated. No answer.