By Jide Ajani
Haram! That is the word to use in describing the sudden removal of the subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS. No doubt, Nigeria is wobbling and the prognoses are such that a shock therapy is needed or else, the centre would cease to hold again.
True, the consequences of the long years of economic and political mismanagement of Nigeria are beginning to stare everyone in the face.
True, President Goodluck Jonathan can not be blamed for the economic malaise that is bedeviling the Nigerian nation today.
True, past leaders, including, of course, the highly combustible once-upon-a-time maximum leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the major domo in this Republic, former President Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, stockpiled wood for what is turning out to be today’s possible bonfire.
True, some crooks in high places continue to collude with importers of petroleum products to defraud the Federal Government of Nigeria, FGN, through subsidy on PMS.
But it is also true that the self-same FGN has pleaded helplessness and utter incompetence in dealing with such crooks.
It is also true that whereas the FGN needs all the funds it can muster to engage in developmental projects; it is nonetheless truer that there is a seeming disconnect between what ought to be government’s priorities and what it has chosen to be its priorities Yet, the only country in the world where everybody in a position to do something but refuses to do anythin is Nigeria!
Take, for instance, the monitoring of what eventually constitutes subsidy!
According to a source who should know (mind you he is a legislator), “officials of government from the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, who are supposed to vet the quantity and volume of PMS brought into the country are compromised such that figures are inflated; staff of auditing firms that are required to look closer, probe the books and records with a fine tooth comb are compromised.
“Some individuals who are supposed to serve as a buffer at the Petroleum Products’ Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, are compromised (at least, the mind boggling issue of how construction companies got licensees to import petroleum products remains haunting); officials of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, are yet to clearly satisfy the Senate Committee on Petroleum, Downstream, on how a loan of over $3billion was incurred and how approval was gotten; then there is the government that continues to claim that it is helpless in arresting the corruption that it has acknowledged exists.
All these point in one single direction: That we are Nigerians, confronting a uniquely Nigerian problem, with expectedly Nigerian solution that may not solve the problem because the solution itself has become the problem.
The general strike that the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has called for tomorrow would not solve the problem either! So, call off the strike? Perish that thought!
Worse, the pig-headed insistence of the FGN that there is no alternative to this repetitive solution it is proffering, subsidy removal, as against a total deregulation of the downstream sector would only end up as a fool’s errand.
Still, it is in the nature of government to engage a delusional approach to solving a problem that requires courage and will.
Finally, it was Abraham Lincoln who said over two centuries ago that integrity is the only moral force for persuasion. Therefore, labour and Nigerians, sensing that there is a massive discount of integrity in the process that has led to the subsidy regime are baying for blood (See Deals at Atlas Cove)