DEREGULATION, Vice President Namadi Sambo said, was so critical to the survival of the economy, that there was no alternative to it. These arguments have been on for decades. For its proponents, deregulation means abdication of government’s responsibilities to its people.
Is government concerned about deregulation without considering Section 14 (2b) of the Constitution which states, “The security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government?” Is
deregulation to benefit or behead the people?
Deregulation – in Nigeria – means higher prices of the most essential commodities, more unemployment, more uncertainties, with winners of bids for public companies failing to meet their obligations.
Government’s biggest point for deregulation is the corruption in government business. With friends of government as main beneficiaries of the corruption, government treats the pillaging of our national resources with feeble gloves.
Scandals around the dispersal of billions of Naira to friends of government as fuel subsidy, are enough to have sent some ministers out of government long ago. Government’s attitude to the thievery that went on and its expectations that Nigerians would applaud belated efforts to retrieve mere fractions of the stolen money, all expose the pomposity of government officials and their indifference to wasting of national resources.
She gloats over a forensic audit that uncovered N232 billion subsidy fraud without disclosing cost of hiring forensic examiners and disruptions to the economy.
“We took between 15 and 20 forensic examiners from PriceWaterHouse and Central Bank of Nigeria. Last week, the work was submitted to Mr. President. They have determined N232 billion as claims that were substantiated to be fraudulent. We have fired auditors who were not doing their jobs and we are putting in new ones with very strong letters of reference,” she told the National Economic Summit Group.
If the Ministry of Finance was not hind-sighted, would it not have been able to present the fraud? Is firing auditors that enhanced the fraud adequate punishment for a criminal offence?
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala heads the group that makes impervious arguments for deregulation using the failings of the fuel subsidy regime as a major arsenal. What they fail to admit is that while they are busy posturing, ordinary criminals corner Nigeria’s resources. When they are caught, government hands them minimal punishments, if any, while still lamenting that only deregulation can free resources to run Nigeria.
The basis of the ‘no deregulation, no Nigeria’ argument is flawed because government’s interest is mainly in dodging its responsibilities of making “the security and welfare of the people the primary purpose of government.”
Deregulation pursued with the current manner that n