By Denrele Animasaun
Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.-Rosa Luxemburg
There is a sketch doing the rounds that depicts carjackers no longer steal cars or money, all they are after is the oil in the tank.
It would be funny, if it were not true. This is a desperate situation that millions of Nigerians faced last month. This debacle occurred when petrol was needed the most; people were preparing to travel over the festive period so that they could spend time with their family. All you saw for miles were vehicles of different descriptions snaking around the road waiting patiently at petrol stations to fill their vehicles with oil. It is not only what was seen on TV but also friends and family gave first-hand accounts of queuing for hours only to be told much later that the pump was dry and empty of oil. It is a scene that was repeated all over the country and it was frustrating that on top of all the other hardships that people are facing, this was a bridge too far.
It is extraordinary that in a country that has oil in abundance; sadly it relies on other nations to refine its oil and then sell it back to Nigeria. Something is fundamentally wrong here, it does not make economic sense and its downright wasteful that this is being allowed to continue for so long and yet, again, Nigerians are suffering as a result.
Of course, whenever there is a crisis of such nature, it is a known fact that some nefarious Nigerians, these evil opportunists, who are always ready to make a tidy sum out of such misery. They artificially hike up the price and create scarcity to create a frenzy and most of the time, Nigerians will just jump on the bandwagon instead of shaming these miscreants, they rush to pay the extortionate rate because they reckon, and they will run short. Time to call time on these people. It is a case of supply and demand, people have to refuse to pay, time to apply price control and those that practice such hyperinflation, should face stiff consequences. Sometimes, measures such as these are necessary as a deterrent to curtail these parasitic economic swindlers. Their actions affect millions of people, this is not a simple case of making a fast buck, and this act is costly in terms of loss of resources and manpower.
President Muhammadu Buhari did make reference in the statement to the nation, that he will he get to the root of the fuel scarcity in the country and he promises that he will prevent those behind it from inflicting hardship on Nigerians again.
About time, these people should face the music as their callousness costs billions of lost in working hours and countless business opportunities. One can only imagine how much lives were lost due to the lack of petrol.
PMB in his New Year address, said, “I am saddened to acknowledge that for many this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy. Instead of showing love, companionship, and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country’.
The selfishness of people who lack moral compass, robbed millions of hard-working Nigerians precious festive period with their loved ones, some had to resort to paying extortionate bus fares and of course, there are the knocks on effects: additional costs on goods, services, including food. This was no victimless crime, this affects everyone.
PMB promises to act decisively; “This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again,” and yes, he said the act tantamount to unpatriotic, and “such unpatriotic will not divert the Administration from the course we have set ourselves’.
This is the time to change our mind set. What affects one of us, really does affect us all.
Beyond the fuel scarcity and into the future
It is easy for many to decry the lack of action or what seems like no progress. They are right. There are no real discernible changes on the ground, the ordinary man or woman or child can only feel the hardship that some people are already wishing for the greedy poli-looters to return as they reasoned that at least, some of their ill-gotten wealth will trickle down. The reality is, tickle down wealth is a fallacy, it makes few offensively rich and far too many languish in grinding poverty.
So why on earth would people prefer to revisit a time of untold corruption and abuse of office? Where have they been? Have they not read or seen the unimaginable amounts of money found by EFCC or offshore accounts? All these recovered loot is more than enough, if utilised properly, to transform the lives of Nigerians and lift many out of poverty.
So why do people want to hack back to the past? This is what is wrong with some people! How on earth can this country be back on track? The hard truth is, without struggle, there cannot be progress. For so long, many are determined to get stupendously rich quick and that is evident in the present dire situation and it did not happen in one day, it has been a cumulative siphoning and erosion of what is decent and morally good about Nigerians. And it is realistically impossible to think the damage done can be undone or repaired in two short years, it is irrational and illogical. It is hard but that is the truth. We have been doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome, it is not going to happen. It is time to change and stick to the roadmap.
No matter, how much it is riding on PMB, it is not going to happen without a collective determination and commitment.
PMB, for his part, has plans to overhaul and develop the nation’s infrastructure: rail transport, power generation, and distribution, investments to carry out all these overdue and underinvested infrastructure. He has promised to prioritise the security concerns of Nigerian lives and properties, now that will be no mean feat!