By Emma Aziken
Hours after the Muhammadu Buhari administration decided to pass the buck on the removal of the so called subsidy on imported fuel into the country to the next administration, the incoming governor of Anambra State triggered hope of a renaissance in governance in the country.
Soludo has not taken office yet, but the hopes that Nigeria would one day come out of the tunnel were evident in the first actions of the Anambra State governor-elect.
Indeed, in the midst of the pessimism in the land if one is able to see hope one may as well hold fast to it.
Speaking during an interaction with members of his transition committee, Soludo said that he would make Innoson Motors his official vehicle. That is as much a bold statement in lifting hope that Nigeria’s elected officials are not all given to wantonness.
More than that, he said that he has for some period been wearing clothes made out of the locally made fabric, Akwette.
The nuances of Professor Soludo make sense against the background of the fact that billions of dollars are taken away from the country through importation of finished vehicles and other products that have alternative local options.
If private individuals are so involved in optimizing foreign brands of vehicles, it is sickening that elected public officials do the same.
That is why the House of Representatives would for a long time continue to seek atonement for the foolery of voting billions of naira to import foreign brands of vehicles in 2020 at a time countries everywhere were seeking how to protect local jobs at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soludo’s efforts have been paralleled by his bold decision in assembling the best technocrats from across the country into his transition committee. That loaded committee has the redoubtable Dr. Oby Ezekwesili as chairman.
There is no gainsaying that by patronizing Innoson vehicles, Soludo would be helping to retain more money in Anambra, boost the domestic economy through more jobs and also taxes coming to the state.
Remarkably, that same Wednesday that Prof Soludo made his declaration was when the Federal Executive Council, FEC in Abuja resolved to pass the buck on the issue of the alleged fuel subsidy to the next administration.
Remarkably, President Muhammadu Buhari had initially doubted the existence of fuel subsidy during his campaign for the 2015 presidential election.
During the Goodluck Jonathan administration when pump price was N87 per litre, the subsidy payment was put in the hundreds of billions.
However, even after the pump price has now been more than doubled, the government is projecting payments on subsidy at N3 trillion per year.
With fuel selling at the pumps for more than double that figure, the administration still claims to be paying subsidy bringing to question the matter of transparency in the administration of the fuel subsidy regime.
The opaque system that has led to the ballooning of the subsidy programme has been left unexplained and left room for much imagination as concerning the famed integrity of the president.
Nigerians are puzzled that a government that came with the mantra of change has rather than changed the subsidy scam contributed to deepen it.
With the government unable to put the refineries to use after seven years, it is laughable that Mr. Babatunde Fashola could come out to say that the government has performed better in terms of infrastructure than the United States Government.
Some would ask if this was not the same Fashola that was widely quoted as saying that any government that cannot provide electricity in six months is not worthy to be in office? The minister has now been again quoted as denying the claim.
Whether Fashola truly made that claim or not may not be an issue. But one would ask him whether a government which cannot repair refineries in seven years is worthy to remain in office.
It is depressing that all these years that the government has maintained refineries and staff without pumping out petroleum products from them.
It is against this depressing lethargy at the federal level that the declarations from Soludo bring hope that one day someone would repair the rot in the country.
If the people of Anambra can find hope in Soludo, the rest of Nigeria will sooner than later find hope in a real change agent who will clean the Augean stable.
Soludo’s solution to governance which he has also expressed will come in the minimization of government expenditure is what Nigeria needs not just in Abuja, but in all the states of the country.
We must pray for Professor Soludo to succeed.