29th June, 2011
To understand these ceaseless threats of removal of oil subsidy our rulers have found rather very pleasant to harass us, strife torn Nigerians, with, we must ask why things simply have refused to work in Nigeria. For us to understand why those in government feel this constant threat that ups the temperature of the nation, remains the only panacea to whatever their dreams are, we must understand why our refineries are irreparable. If we ever do a little research as to why removal of fuel subsidy or whatever it is called has become such a tragic attractant to those in government in Nigeria, we will come to discover such feeling is predicated on certain variables. One is that nothing ever gets to change in Nigeria. Two is that Nigerian refineries are gone for good and there is no hope of establishing new ones and Nigeria as a country would remain a net importer of refined petroleum products.
We must remind ourselves of the following paradoxes that spew from this fuel subsidy mantra: Nigeria is the only major oil producing country that imports refined petroleum products and among the major oil producers, Nigerians pay the highest price for refined petroleum products.
Again, let us note that the quaint term of subsidy is just a dubious coinage to explain the costs we pay for the inefficiency and slothfulness of the Nigerian system. It is the cost ordinary, weather beaten Nigerians pay for the gargantuan corruption complex that has hobbled almost all facets of governance in Nigeria. Simply put, it is the difference between the international price of oil and the local price of refined petroleum product and this goes to pay for the gluttony of our rulers. So in essence, if Nigeria has the capacity to refine oil to the meet the needs of the local economy, we would not be talking of subsidy, which is a periodic predatory weapon to chastise Nigerians. If Nigerian refineries are working, the quota that is used locally, which is only a small fraction of our daily OPEC output would be processed here and sold at reduced price. Knowing that the argument supporting subsidy will not endure if Nigerian refineries are fixed, our so-called rulers have grown trenchantly adamant and impervious to the need to fix our refineries or build new ones and for the subsidy argument to serve its main purpose as an exploitative mantra for those in government, this will remain the situation for a very long time to come unless something radical is done to re-direct governance in this country.
Ever wondered why we are stuck with this annoying politics of fuel subsidy removal? If anything, this monotonous song advertises the failings of our nation. It says why we are not creative enough to think beyond extracted oil. It says a lot why an oil rich nation deigns the construction and maintenance of refineries as rocket science, which is beyond the capacity of government. It shows our limitations as a nation. The limitations of the government and the creative rustiness of those that have taken it upon themselves to periodically rape us in the name of governance has forced this poisoned chalice on us and it is like a death sentence to a terminally ill patient, it canâ€™t just go away. Nigerians are doomed and condemned to this fatal fate and there seems to be no end in sight to the deadly blackmail that sustains this subsidy argument.
Is it surprising that the same unrealised promises that were retched up to canvass the fuel subsidy removal nonsense are still the same promises that are being peddled today as our clueless leaders recite the weather beaten arguments for removal of the so-called fuel subsidy? We are being told to expect immaculate roads, world class health facilities, superb educational facilities, surplus jobs, unbeatable security, uninterrupted power, etc. Funny enough, and perhaps without knowing or because they are so brain dead, they do not realise that Nigerians know these reasons as they know the back of their palms. They may not know but the more our leaders recite these lists of promises to sustain the wonky reasoning of unceasing fuel subsidy removal, the more they annoy ordinary Nigerians who are being led to believe that our rulers are known scammers that will not care a hoot drilling the blood of Nigerians who are at their very nightmarish worst, to satisfy their bloated greed.
That the present demand for fuel subsidy removal is coming from the governors does not fool us as to where exactly they are coming from. It originated from the presidency and the governors are being likely blackmailed to key in or else lose their battle for more allocations to deal with the minimum wage time bomb. I know some governors who will not touch this hemlock because they know its incendiary nature and the prospect it harbours to spew anger and dread on the streets but I wonder why the governors are fighting shy of the time-honoured imperative to divest the federal tier of government of a fraction of the hefty 52 per cent it collects from the federation account with little or nothing to do but to grow a huge corruption complex. For the states to survive in such a predatory country as ours, the federal government must free up to 20 per cent of the huge allocations it appropriates now to the states, which has shown a greater sense of responsibility to the needs of the people than the federal tier in recent times. Any wise head will appreciate that Nigeria, as a polity presently, is a combustible entity that is just waiting for the right needling to implode. With youth unemployment that is reaching a crisis point, untamed corruption that is a real threat to progress, a completely broken down security situation, and disillusioned and purloined citizens that have almost completely lost hope that the ruling class will ever reverse the seemingly irreversible fate that threatens it by the day, Nigeria is hovering on the very brink of social crisis and I see the fuel subsidy issue as capable of igniting the tinder box.
It is apparent that the latest campaign for the removal of oil subsidy-or whatever it is called- is being prodded by the raw greed of our rulers otherwise with the mass privation and untamed want in Nigeria at present, it will take only a person with an incurable sadistic bent to provoke annoying arguments on fuel subsidy at a time Nigerians are undergoing their most harrowing economic experiences, even in the midst of tremendous oil boom. Is it not curious to Nigerians that at a time all reasonable minds have counselled lean and compact government of competent professionals, President Jonathan is front loading a team of 44 mostly party men for his cabinet? If anything that this is coming at a time a debate is being provoked for another round of mass extortion in the name of fuel subsidy removal, Nigerians are doomed to pay for the illicit gluttony of its rulers and with the way things are going, this will endure for a long time to come.
I think Nigerians must take the present needless argument of fuel subsidy removal as the last battle they must fight for their survival and approach it with all the seriousness it demands. The consequences of acquiescing to yet another effort to milk their dried blood is that Nigerians should get ready for extinction for that is what this fuel subsidy removal nonsense is meant to be.
â€¢Claver Oparah writes in from Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]