By Kate Henshaw
A new year dawned on us with the announcement of increase in pump prices of petrol (PMS) from sixty five Naira(N65) to between N140 and N200! Wow! I was not the only one who wondered and said “wait a minute, were we not told April?”
What happened to the talks that were ongoing to debate whether Nigerian masses wanted it or not? What about exhausting all channels and levels of dialogue before the implementation? It seemed that was a decoy meant to keep all attention on it while the government had already taken a decision on the matter.
Blackberry broadcast messages started flying around about the insensitivity, cruelty and devious nature of our leaders/government whom we voted in to serve us and lead us right. Calculations were being made about whether really there was ever a subsidy in the first place and also why the government did not feel the need to reduce its own expenditure seeing that the cost of running government was at all times high.
After listening to the Minister of Labour on television the other day, it was clear he did not think he was a Nigerian as he kept on referring to the impending strike proposed by NLC and TUC as bringing more hardship on “them” rather than us while referring to us, the average Nigerian.
It saddens my heart that the government of this country think they lead dullards who cannot rationalise and think for themselves. That we agreed to be led by the nose for so long was so that we would give each successive government the benefit of doubt as to their ability to roll out policies that will benefit the populace as opposed to a select few. As things stand now, we have nowhere else to go but to push back. As I have mentioned before, the world around us is changing.
Amidst all the tension within the populace and increasing unrest, we then received messages about impending black out on Blackberry. Instant messaging services by government who had prevailed on the NCC to do so in a bid to stop Nigerians communicating with themselves on the situation but it turned out to be untrue as a leading telecommunications network, MTN sent out messages denying it.
A lot of rumours are flying around, accusations and counter accusations; it seems there is no end in sight with the strike kicking off on Monday, January 9. The burden is on the government to show that their intentions towards us are honourable and sincere but they have burnt that bridge already by springing this jack in the box on us.
We are told that fuel subsidy must go so that our future will be secured and also guarantee that our children will enjoy our beloved country. We are told that the money saved from the subsidy will be channelled to areas of greater need in our society and that a committee has been set up to monitor the savings.
We are equally told that the Federal Government has ordered 1,600 buses from abroad as palliatives for the harsh condition the removal of subsidy has brought. Hello…? The buses are meant for how many Nigerians? Do we park our cars at home since we cannot fuel them and all pile into the buses with our children to our different destinations?
Do we then eat the buses? Pay the childrens’ school fees with them? Settle our hospital bills with them? Always we put the cart before the horse. We borrow western ideas,we do not carry out a proper feasibility study on how it would thrive here and then… hoping it would still produce the same result, case in point the Lekki toll.
Still there is no explanation on why our refineries cannot function. Why we keep wasting money to export our crude oil for refining and later they sell product to us. It is mind-boggling. I would liken it to a farmer who plants yams, harvests it and sends it to a restaurant to be prepared as pounded yam for his meal!
Different theories abound about some masterminds living up to their threat of making the nation ungovernable for the President, what with the Christmas day bombings and the never ending killings in some parts of the north.
The much talked about petrol cabal is also being blamed for this uprising and using the ill-gotten gains from subsidy to fight the government on its removal. How about transparency on the part of the government? Compassion for the multitude rather than an I don’t care attitude, do -your -worst… .
Yet to be implemented is the minimum wage salary which is now like a drop in the ocean considering the hike being experienced in the country. It is now totally impossible for that amount to do anything worthwhile. Unless we as a people begin to make these electoral positions unattractive in terms of monetary rewards, the right people will never get in there.
There is no need to say “Happy New year” any more because we all know that except for the fact that those of us reading this article are still alive, we are far from happy.