August 24, 2023

FG’s removal of fuel subsidy not strategic — Eleniyan, defense strategist

FG’s removal of fuel subsidy not strategic — Eleniyan, defense strategist

…Says for economic prosperity, govts should stop anti-people policies, embezzlement

By Rita Okoye

Prominent businessman and expert in defense and strategy, Gbemileke Eleniyan, has warned that if there would be economic growth and national prosperity which cuts across all strata of the Nigerian society, then governments at all levels must ensure that embezzlement of public funds and anti-people policies must be stopped.

The defense expert made this known while responding to questions from journalists during a media parley held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

“I doubt if we now have leaders in this country. At best we can say that we have political rulers who have benefited from the goodwill that the country used to offer and enjoyed such as Awolowo’s free education, free health care, and a descent life after graduation from higher institutions. Sadly, instead of reciprocating and repaying the country in a positive light, they are involved in embezzlement as well as oppressive and anti-masses’ policies that will keep impoverishing the masses.

“My recommendation will be that leaders across all sectors must work to reduce unemployment, income disparity, improve per capita income and ensure social justice. All these can only be possible when we have free, fair, and credible elections and our judicial system is allowed to function effectively,” he said.

Speaking further, he told the gathering that “APC administration met the dollar at about 180 naira and it is now about 950 naira in the black-market and about 800 naira at the official Import and Export window. Since we are import dependent, the value of our currency determines both our cost of living and our standard of living.

“The price of food items have skyrocketed. A bag of rice is now over forty thousand naira and in 2015 it used to be about eight thousand naira. Food inflation has set in and the average cost of food item is more than the minimum wage.

“On the issue of subsidy removal, Tinubu’s government is starting wrongly with false assumptions that we are one of the few countries still subsidizing fuel. No, there are over thirty-nine countries with various forms of fuel subsidies. You cannot remove subsidy when you still do not refine the crude locally. If I had the same chance that Tinubu has, I will follow this sequence within twelve months and I will roll out a four-year gradual plan to eliminate subsidy with good palliatives. Send EFCC after fraudulent oil marketers and recover billions of naira; eliminate smuggling of PMS and other crude products; ensure proper tracking of imported PMS with correct data; eliminate stealing of crude oil by installing pipeline intrusion detectors system across the country and aerial surveillance; when all refineries are working optimally, we can then embark on four years subsidy removal plans and each aspect will have equal palliatives.

“Tinubu’s hasty removal of subsidy is not strategic and it shows lack of critical thinking on the part of the government.”

On philanthropy, Eleniyan revealed that he would continue to pursue his passion in helping to reduce criminality, teenage pregnancy and unemployment. According to him, “I understand that philanthropy is a serious venture and the impact is long term but surely enduring. Learning from great philanthropists across the globe, it is important one is known for few but impactful ventures and I think I will love to be known for girl-child education and youth employment. By providing education for indigent girls, I feel a sense of fulfillment and I am sure we have succeeded in reducing teenage pregnancies, criminality, and prostitution in our local communities.

“I have a passion for child education. I believe the educated child already has leverage in life. More importantly, I have a stronger passion for girl-child education. This was what influenced me to create a scholarship that we sponsor yearly at Vinespring International Model Academy, Moniya- the girl child education. We sponsor twenty girls from less-advantaged families yearly. This was one of the things we presented to Meta in securing Covid-19 grant in 2021. We have however decided to extend it to boys too because we understand that an uneducated boy-child is a threat to the educated girl-child.”