Is This the #Change for Which I Prayed and Voted?

Is This the #Change for Which I Prayed and Voted?

Your APC government has increased the official pump price of fuel from N86 to N145.

No. You can’t be serious. That was one of the illegal, fuel scarcity prices.

Image: Pixabay.com
Image: Pixabay.com

Oh yes, I am dead serious. Look here, they have issued a Press Release.

I saw the Press Release myself yesterday. They said the new price will be NO MORE THAN N145. That means it can be less.

Really? You still believe Ibe Kachikwu when he promises something? Were you not in this country when he promised that fuel queues would be over in a week? And when that failed, he set another date. Don’t we still have fuel queues? Were you not here when he promised that we would begin buying fuel at a price below N85per liter? Have you ever bought fuel that low since then? I think the Petroleum Minister should just resign because it appears he is not able to solve this problem

But the Petroleum Minister is Buhari himself.

Oh my God! You are right! What kind of mess have we gotten ourselves into in this country?

Ah! Now you see what I was telling you when you were shouting “#Change! – #Change!” I told you to be careful what you were praying for because you actually might get it. Weren’t you the one who said if corruption was the only thing Buhari could fix for four years, you were okay with it? Was this the #Change for which you were praying?

Yes, it was. This was exactly the #Change for which I was praying – a President with steel in his spine who can look oil subsidy scammers in the eye and tell them to go to hell. I didn’t want the kind of President we had in 2012 who so easily caved in to the subsidy cabal-sponsored #OccupyNigeria protest.

My friend, that protest was spontaneous. I even participated in it. And I am sure nobody sponsored me.

Well, take a closer look at it: we had companies supplying phantom oil and pocketing billions of dollars in subsidies. We had companies whose ships purportedly berthed at our ports, discharging imported fuel at the same time the same ships were in China and other parts of the world. Don’t you know that anybody making that kind of money would sponsor protests to prevent removal of subsidies? Open your eyes, my friend. Not all those who look can actually see.

But crude oil prices at the international markets have fallen drastically; I don’t get why we should be paying more than Ghana for fuel when Ghana does not have a single refinery.

Stop comparing us to Ghana, please. How many vehicles does Ghana have on its very few roads? Don’t you know that the entire population of Ghana is just about that of Lagos State alone?

It doesn’t matter. They are paying less than we are now going to be paying and they do not have to queue up endlessly.

That’s the goal of President Buhari too. With this deregulation of the downstream sector…

Abeg, spare me those highfalutin, bombastic, economics jargons…Deregulation…Downstream…how the heck does that reduce my cost of fuel? This your government, ehn! Only last week, they announced that several ships had landed on the shores with refined fuel and scarcity would soon be a thing of the past. Weeks before then, they announced that oil had been discovered in Maiduguri. And weeks before that, they announced that our refineries were nearing full capacity of production – all of which raised our hopes that they knew what they were doing. Does this look to you as if they know what they are doing? On top of this new fuel hike, I have to pull my children out of school because my wife and I have not been paid our salaries since December! If my cousin in America had not been sending me some money, I would have sent my wife and kids back to the village and moved in with you.

Well, at least you get a lot more naira for the dollars that your cousin has been sending. I hear it is around N315 to a dollar these days. If he sends you about $3000, you are an instant millionaire!

I will punch you in the throat if you think this is the right time to joke. I just don’t get why this Buhari man is so insensitive and deaf to the cries of the people. He cut off access to foreign exchange on the excuse that he was preserving it. That shot up the rates and caused prices of foods to soar. Go to Shoprite today and see what the price of corn flakes is saying. We have stopped going there now o. But even at Orita-Merin, Agbeni and Bodija markets, prices of foodstuff are such that would give you a heart attack. We now travel to Omi Adio village to buy food because it is closer to the farms.

Ehn! That’s what Buhari wanted you to do; to stop buying imported foods. Now, if you calm down a bit, maybe I can try to explain to you what Buhari has just done with this downstream sector deregulation. Listen, it is very simple: In that Press Release that you claimed to have read, the government now says anybody…I mean ANYBODY…including you and I, could now go and import finished petroleum products and charge whatever we want for it. And you know what that means – more importers and more fuel in the country. It could even get to a situation where we start experiencing petrol and diesel glut in the country. Look at it this way: oil prices in the international markets dropped from well over $120 to barely $40 per barrel because the market was flooded with oil. If we flood Nigeria with fuel, the price will fall. It is simple supply and demand theory. But you said you didn’t want to hear any bombastic economics theories. Demand and Supply is taught in SS1.

But how does the government make sure that these same independent marketers do not hold the country to ransom by engaging in price-fixing?

Thank you for that brilliant question. As you have probably heard, the Vice President of the Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Abubakar Maigandi, has hailed the government for the removal of subsidy. That’s Greek gift that Buhari will watch very carefully. Since when have IPMAN members become as patriotic as to willfully and easily forego their source of free money? Buhari is calculating that with the ongoing repairs at our oil refineries, coupled with government’s direct importation of refined oil, there will be a lot of competition with which members of IPMAN will have to contend. And by opening up the importation to everybody, the cabal in IPMAN is effectively broken. Now, what the government also plans to do is look at strengthening the anti-price-fixing laws that already exist.

You appear to be making some sense. But why aren’t your people – I mean the Buhari government and the APC – not breaking it down like this to everybody?

I tell you, I don’t know what happens to people once they get in that Aso Rock. My Facebook page has exploded with everybody saying they’d rather bring back Jonathan (whom one uncharitable guy called “JonaDaft” and I chastised him for it) along with all his corrupt ways if we are indeed going to be paying N145 for fuel. For something that is this important – the equivalent of declaring war on another country – government should have embarked on a huge public enlightenment campaign; get on the radio and TV in as many vernaculars as possible; make spokespersons available to media organizations to break these issues down for ordinary folks weekly, if not daily. But it seems like once they get in that Aso Rock, they become ensconced in a cocoon of pseudo political comfort; the kind that saw Jonathan on the streets of Britain and America begging for awards.

You are right. People are now saying this was the same way government increased electricity tariffs, promising improved electricity and all we get are even darker nights and more power-less days; that we are being swindled through the backdoor by Buhari as opposed to Jonathan’s front door, brazen robbery. I am so confused I don’t know who to believe anymore.

I think it is corruption that is fighting back and is now starting to win the feckless hearts of many of us. Those who ran the country aground for the past 16 years before Buhari came still want to return to power and continue the graft. They know that Nigerians cannot endure pain for too long. And they forgive and forget so easily those who have screwed them roughly. The anti #Change forces remember how Nigerians practically invited Babangida to overthrow this same Buhari in 1985 because they could no longer endure the hardship that was required to right the course of our then rudderless ship. Had Nigerians left Buhari alone (the only man we knew was not a thief and would have only made mistakes of the head and not of the heart), Nigeria would not have been in this mess today. And here is Buhari, again trying to right the course of our nation’s ship and these same corrupt people have started sowing the seeds of discord, despair and despondence through their culpable friends in the media and are now crying #BringbackJonathan. I don’t know what to make of our people anymore.

Speaking about corruption; when are we going to get some convictions? It has been a year now and nobody has been sent to jail yet. Didn’t Candidate Buhari promise a reform of the judiciary? How hard can that be especially when the Vice President is a SAN?

The President has said he is more interested in the return of stolen money. I agree with you that people should see some long jail times in order to serve as deterrence to anybody else thinking about stealing in the future. I don’t imagine a situation where some of those “fantastically” egregious cases we have heard would not lead to somebody going to jail. I think we should give government more time to effect the promised reform of the judiciary.

I just hope that things improve before 2019; otherwise we would be toast. I don’t think you would have the kind of zeal you had last year to go and ask people to vote for more darkness and higher electricity tariffs, more fuel queues and higher fuel costs, more salary delays, more Presidential junkets, more motion but no movement on corruption, more seemingly intractable herdsmen crises, the return of successful oil pipeline sabotaging, terrible roads, under-manned and under-equipped medical facilities, sky-rocketing costs of tertiary education, unemployment and under-employment…

Oh shut up! I thought we were discussing Nigeria’s issues in a non-partisan manner. You are now sounding like a PDP member which you are! Don’t get too excited and join the bandwagon of those canvassing for throwing away the baby with the bath water. Remember that this time last year, Boko Haram was hoisting its flags on territories inside Nigeria; today, it is on the run. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were going off all over the north; today, they are far in-between. Schools are now re-opening in places where Boko Haram used to hold sway. We may not have had a single corruption-related conviction yet, but previously untouchable, corrupt, senior military officers and politicians are in detention and regurgitating their loot. Rather than the continued hemorrhaging of government funds, we have applied a tourniquet and stopped the bleeding.  This government is on the march and we all must support it. I understand that we belong in different political parties; but the overarching interests of Nigeria must override our selfish political interests. Let’s join hands in helping this government to succeed. This was the #Change for which I voted.

I agree with you. The consequences of failure are better imagined than experienced.

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