According to a story published in The PUNCH of Thursday, December 18, 2014, the landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit popularly known as petrol was N82.57/litre. That is a lot of difference from numbers like N134 and even N141 at certain times this year. The argument for government’s claims of paying subsidies on the product stemmed from the claims that, government bore a sizable cost of the total cost. With the price of oil taking a plunge, citizens of countries where corruption is not stronger than their governments are now benefiting from low petrol prices.
The defenders of corruption in Nigeria claim that the country’s downstream sector is not fully deregulated so cannot enjoy the benefits of a deregulated market. That almost sounds sensible until you realise that those who import PMS into Nigeria buy from deregulated markets, hence the reduced landing cost. So, are we saying that because our downstream sector is not a deregulated market, government should continue paying N141 or so to fuel marketers who get to land each litre of petrol for N82.57? Does the absence of deregulation also exclude the presence of common sense? Of course, it doesn’t. Except dealing with its cronies, no government will overpay for a product under any guise. As of today and since the plunge of the price of oil, Nigerians have been the ones subsidising the government and of course its cronies. If you have been wondering why it was easy for a group of people to raise N21bn for President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign war chest, wonder less, just look at the rationality behind rub-my-back-I-rub-yours. Well, Nigerians are getting robbed on a daily basis, this is just another addition to the styles in the ways we are getting rammed by our government.
Forget the price of petrol. The corruption in that sector will need a super-mad Nigerian president to clean up. Talking about presidents, who will you be voting for in 2015? Before you mention Goodluck Jonathan or Muhammadu Buhari or one of those I-am-also-a-presidential-candidate sort of perennial candidates, here is what you must consider: The 2015 elections are beyond personalities, they are about the realities around the personalities. Before you assume I am just wasting grammar because it does not fall under luxury goods so it won’t be taxed, the realities should determine what you do.
The reality around President Jonathan is simple and direct. As the incumbent, he is no longer in a position to run for the elections under the umbrella of promises, he’d have to run based on what he believes or assumes he has been able to do since May 2010. To his credit, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos looks better than it was in 2010. At what cost? Ask Madam Stella Oduah but that is not the issue here.
The lights may not come on as you expect, but the megawatts have increased according to most news reports. Never mind that the deregulated power sector has already enjoyed billions of naira in bailout and as a sector was very generous into donating a lot of that money to the President’s campaign. One good bailout deserves a campaign donation.
The Information Communications Technology end has seen some successes with our increased internet penetration and development of an enabling environment for Nigerians to unlock the benefits of technology. The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources has been telling many success stories. Credit must also go to the YOUWIN enterprise, with the first phase affecting some 1,200 awardees who were expected to employ some 14,000 other people. You cannot afford to place these numbers against the 67 million or so Nigerian youths out there. Let us be grateful to President Jonathan, at least he has tried. Seriously. I am sure the President has done well in some other areas. Some day, when the likes of Doyin Okupe and Olisa Metuh are ready to wake up from abusing those who dare to disagree with them with respect to the divinity and the “jesusinity” of President Jonathan, we will hear more about what the President has been getting right.
On the other side, in terms of job creation, the administration has failed. It claims to have created 1.5 million jobs this year. Maybe, those jobs were created on a computer file in Abuja named “1.5 Million Jobs.” All you need to create that is select “create file” and you have “1.5 Million Jobs” created. In terms of security of lives, the government has failed woefully. Gone are the days Boko Haram attacks were shocking, not anymore. They are now part of the norm in the northeast. For many residents, it is not a question of whether their communities will be attacked; it is a question of how and when. The government currently rules over a lesser territory than it inherited in May 2010. And no, we didn’t lose it at The Hague; we lost our territories to terrorists the President referred to as “riff raffs” at a time he was being warned about the danger they posed.
What then is the reality around the candidacy of Buhari? Whatever he says or does, his candidacy will run on nothing but promises, his character and that of his revered running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN). The thing with promises, anyone can give them. For instance, a certain President promised to fix power by the end of his first term, also saying he’d have no business in office if he didn’t do the same. That president recently raised N21bn to run again, even though the venue where the event happened must have been powered by alternative generators other than the megawatts from the national grid. So no matter what strength Buhari’s supporters think he brings to the table, we will never know until he gets power. Remember Barack Obama in 2008? Integrity is one thing, meeting an economy whose woes are worse than you imagined before you became president is another. Whoever leads Nigeria afresh next year has his work cut out.
The choice before Nigerians is simple enough; should we continue with today’s realities that have seen Nigeria reduced to the synonym “Boko Haram” in International circles? Should we continue with the status quo that has elevated corruption, deified it and placed it in the corridors of power excused for it’s not-all-that-bad-value by none other than the President himself; “stealing” and “corruption” taking on different seats in the annals of our national impunity? Should we continue with the status quo that allows for veteran warlords to buy war ships and run their own governments even inside the seat of power? Should we continue to run a five-president government which, according to a new book, has the de jure president as anything but the de facto leader?
Or should we risk a new government that may continue with the status quo or make things better? There is really no option of making things worse by whatever government that succeeds this because really and truly, no matter how much anyone wants one to believe, politicians are one and the same, no set of politicians is capable of running Nigeria aground as much as this current gang has. The realities in short; should we continue with today’s realities or choose a reality that could continue with today’s realities or make things better? I would assume the choice is a no-brainer but I have never been a fan of assumptions when it comes to matters involving rationality in Nigeria.
This was first published in Punch. Views expressed are solely the author’s