After one week
of mass protest, the “irreversible and irreducible” federal government has
balked; the voice of the people which was misunderstood but not taken for
granted has impacted the right notes with Mr. President. Arguably, the inept
handling of the subsidy removal made it possible for the president to bear the
brunt of anger in the nation. This is the price of leadership. No sweat.
nations, the Petroleum Ministry with the stealth directives from the presidency
would have been at the forefront of defending such a policy. The president’s
bravado of equating loss of his life with a national policy exposed the man’s
jejunity. Presidents don’t talk that type of language. It is inelegant, so to
politicians, at least in the ruling party should have permeated airwaves,
acreage of newsprint and social media arguing the case for their party. They
could have put across the message for a removal of subsidy in the cities,
villages, conurbations, valleys and hills of our nation. Without engaging the
electorate, it means that policy changes are conducted in the same ineffectual
way, whilst hoping for a different result.
Ours is a
country that is largely operated outside normative economic theories and
judicial obligations. There are too many inconsistencies in exchanges between
government and the governed; citizens and society. Massive unemployment in the
throes of equal proportion of wastage have galvanised both sides to confront
each other in, at least, debating issues affecting lives of masses of people in
The debate, as
expansive as it has been, the inconsistencies that have brought about the
present problems still remain. In spite, resolutions are sought outside normal
practices. Citizens are more resoundingly clear about accountability,
transparency, service-delivery, security of lives and properties and respect
for the rule of law. Government, though wishes to resolve its citizens’
concerns, its actions are disengaging.
The seething and
repressed frustration of both young and old; working and middle classes found
their vent in a government policy announced recklessly in a period that another
policy was overwhelmingly approved and supported by the masses. The federal
government attempt for immediate shutdown of the cesspool of corruption in the
oil industry would have resulted in financial losses for unscrupulous civil
servants and oil marketing companies. Given what we now know, few would have
sympathised with the culprits.
But what of that
“Naija Factor” or “it can only happen in 9ja Factor” which for long is an intuitive
behaviour and an economic currency inappropriate in decent climes? Is the decay now so bad that reaction of the
citizen is replete with inconsistencies; government seemingly, confused? After over
two confused weeks of inaction, investigations into corrupt practices are
announced. Such remissness and inconsistency are wholly unacceptable to the
expectation of the masses. Though, it should also be accepted that corrupt civil
servants and oil marketers are not Martians, they are Nigerians. Some of them
are probably out there protesting with the masses. Are they not always
revolving at through the entrance door to the seat of power?
Amongst them are
both classes of lowly and highly placed citizens. Consider going through
Customs checkpoints at our international airports at the airports: when was it
not inquired – “what did you bring for me”
or at police checkpoints: “Oga, wetin you
get for the boys”. What is the use customs checking of private effects
openly at international airports. It is only in Nigeria that you see a Customs
officer handling passengers’ opposite sex underpants and knickers to extract
money. What is the use of that check in these days of automatic scanners? These
checks are embarrassing; of course, if eliminated, those sharing monies
extracted from passengers stand to lose. The cabal at our international
airports are not different to the ones we now fight. Extrapolate fleecing of
passengers into the cadre of junior civil servants. The corrupt practice is the
same, though, with a lower denomination value.
Government directive to withdraw its subsidy for importation, sale and
distribution of Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol) was inconsistent with the goodwill
of the holiday season; its defence was uncoordinated to the extent that the
policy fast degenerated to a campaign championed by the Mr. President, the
Ministers of Petroleum and Finance and the Governor of Central Bank.
Where was the
rest of the cabinet and collective responsibility which demands that all
ministers should have been at the forefront of persuading fellow Nigerians? The
inconsistency was more of personal preservation. This type of “body-language” served to persuade the nation
that the policy was not in its interest. Aside from that, this point has been
well laboured: approved emoluments of the executive and legislative remain
inconsistent with output or present economic climate in the country. The governed
on whose mandate our democracy flourishes disapproves of 2012 Appropriation
Bill, wherein profligacy seems undeterred. Perhaps, this is an aside.
Within the same
government, a tier, the House of Representatives’ posits an inconsistency to
the other chamber, the senate, a half-way House which agrees with the policy
but not its timing. Now that subsidy remains and a higher price than the old
one is announced, where does that leave the National Assembly in its
inconsistency? Is this not the Naija
factor of sheer incompetence and governance slothfulness?
There are two
grave pointers which further elaborate these inconsistencies: firstly, both
legislative houses are predominantly occupied by members of the ruling party.
Where is party discipline? Where is its three line whip? The ruling party is
rudderless. Its perilous disregard for internal discipline is foreboding for
society. Secondly, members of the two houses are remunerated to represent
citizens’ interests. How many of them went back to their constituencies to
explain the government’s policy? How do they justify the large constituency
representatives of both houses, particularly, the majority in the ruling party
and ministers failed to educate their electorates; the current dialogue has no
specific agenda; it is not about removal of fuel subsidies. The government
seeks to persuade citizens of unsustainable budgetary expenditures. In
response, citizens state that the subsidy is a subterfuge for protestations of
the level of waste and corruption. Government provides more figures and
statistics to persuade the governed; in its inconsistencies, the almost
bankrupt Greek economy, an inappropriate example, was used to frighten listeners.
defending the policy conveniently forgot that the variables in Greece are so much
inconsistent with problems enhanced by the Nigerian factor. More instructively,
though, both government and the governed were arbitrating two interlinked but
separate issues. The result is that the government has yielded ground of what
it perceived as concerns of its electorate. If not debating the same issues,
shifting ground resolves no concerns. So, the electorate remains in the
It is not only
government inconsistencies that are astonishing. The Trade Union Congress (TUC)
and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have inconsistently become a combination for shadow
government because of a lack of credible opposition. They called a national
strike and negotiated with government. Negotiated, on whose behalf – members and
non-members? No one volunteers the percentage of the population in their
memberships. What is the population of employees and retirees in the rolls of
these Congresses in contrast to the total Nigerian population on whose behalf
they negotiated with the Federal government? Generally, industrial relations
collective bargaining stipulates modules for trade unions? Here, in Nigeria,
these are theories inconsistent with the Nigerian Factor.
activities of Labour Congress are, at all, considered galling, emergence and
re-emergence of groups such as “OccupyNigeria” and “Save Nigeria Group (SNG)”
compete with failed politicians who at recent polls could not persuade the
electorate to vote decidedly for them. They lead the same protesters who
rejected them at the polls. Welcome, to Nigeria. What are these politicians
doing in the vanguard of protests? They are seeking relevance, again.
is opportunistic in its inconsistencies. Is the current protest to evolve like
occupation of Wall Street, New York or St Paul’s Cathedral, London? In the
alternate, is Nigerian Spring now due? Neither premise is consistent with what
is happening in Nigeria. So, what is Pastor Bakare preaching that could not
garner votes for him in the South-West of Nigeria? His “Subsidy 101 made Simple” assists the government’s position for
immediate removal of fuel subsidy, even if that was not his intention. There
is, in my view, inconsistent hypocrisy in his attempt.
This man is a
failed politician. He provided his party’s policies to the nation; he was
rejected. In decent societies such politicians wait to present themselves and
their failed policies again, at another election. But, this is Nigeria. Mr.
Bakare has dropped the garb of his political party to re-emerge in his primary
constituency. May be a lesson can be drawn from these protests. It is in a
credible opposition elected members of the House of Assembly that leadership
must come, not these jackboots.
To boot, past
ministers are joining the fray as if corruption in Nigeria started under the
current administration. Their rights, as nationals, guarantee their opinions,
no doubt. What are most unacceptable are personal insults of by these
supposedly respectable members of society, to the person of the president. Such,
is inconsistent with proper conduct. The name calling is indicative of a dearth
of logic. If truth be told, the corruption that is being complained of, and
from earlier disclosed information, existed also in the administration of Mr.
inconsistencies, the incumbent governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji, in
his broadcast, exhibited uncommon chivalry where leaders have failed,
miserably. His call for withdrawal of soldiers from the streets of Lagos informs
that there are still leaders who can abide by proper conduct. Mr. Fashola’s
broadcast shows that the president is not surrounded by good advisers.
In a democracy,
you do not send soldiers to quell protests of unarmed citizens. The governor’s
analogous example of politicians dancing before the electorate to crave votes;
contrasting such to sending military power to quash electorate’s dance when
craving that the government listens, sums up the inconsistencies and
insincerities of leadership in our nation.
A premium of
thirty-two Naira, where a majority exist on less than two dollars a day,
embodies hardship. What immediate actions can assuage the electorate? There is
a need for palliatives that can appear in this month’s pay packets, costs of food
and transportation prices. If government were to subsidise wholesalers and
retailers, with the Nigerian factor, a zero sum policy shall emerge. So, what
can be done? Amidst too many inconsistencies, the protests may not easily
abate. Governance shall all the more become difficult.
Could it be true
that removal of subsidy may well be a stratagem to cover the news of combating
Boko Haram? The ploy is presently effective. Has anyone noticed that in the
last week, little reports are provided as to military engagements in those local
government areas? Is there a news blackout; has the deployment of garrisons of
soldiers on whom a lot of expenses have now resulted in overstated
intelligence? Who can inform us?
No matter how
consistent such military campaign may be to restore peace and order, let Mr.
President, from time to time, ensure that he is properly advised. Keep faith
with leaders of those local government areas to be sure that eradication of
Boko Haram is achieved with as much a mutual objective, as possible.