20th December, 2011
Any visitor to Nigeria, observing the raging noisy altercation about the removal of the so-called subsidy on petroleum products would be led to so many faulty assumptions, which the government has brought to bear on the issue. Such a visitor would be led to believe that Nigeria consumes all the refined petroleum products on planet earth. He would be led to believe the country expends all it earns and even borrows to sustain this fraudulent scam. Such a visitor would be led to believe that once petroleum products are priced out of the reach of the common masses, as it is even in the current price regime, all Nigerian problems are solved. Such a visitor would be led to believe that those that rule Nigeria just happened on the concept and believe that once Nigerians are milked dry through subsidy removal, every problem in the land would be solved.
But these are just parts of the grand duplicity that enshroud the concept of subsidy on fuel, which, I insist for the umpteenth time, is just another wellhead through which the prebendal and rapine rulers that have taken time to ride Nigerians want to milk every Nigerian until we drop dead.
The subsidy issue is a farcical creation of the same group of people that have looted our commonwealth, sold our future, cashed our prospects and are merely baying for more cash to appease their unquenchable thirst for the life blood of Nigerians.
More than any other policy that grows from the sadistic bowels of those that have raped and are still raping Nigeria; the fuel subsidy issue is founded, sustained and projected on grand lies, raw mischief, unsubstantiated claims, forged statistics and grandiloquent deceit.
The fuel subsidy argument is effective only to the degree it protects the real parasites, pests and rodents that have collectively sunk Nigeria to an abyss of despair and misery while advocating maximum pains on the masses.
It stands out for the way it glorifies the kind of larceny and incompetence that has now come to characterise governance in Nigeria and how it promulgates mass extermination for the long suffering and enduring Nigerians that seem hapless as purblind and ultra corrupt leadership makes its notorious rounds on us.
Let us take the issue of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company as a case study to demonstrate how Nigerian leaders employ a concept only for the latitude it offers them to grow their corrupt tendencies. NNPC was set up to facilitate the growth of the Nigerian oil industry. Such anticipated growth includes the management of Nigerian crude and refining industry. Today, the NNPC has just become a font for the unleashing of very corrupt propaganda that is precipitated on the total decay of the Nigerian downstream sector and the total dependence of the country on imported petroleum products. It still controls an amazing volume of cash, derived from the sale of crude, while presiding over the complete defenestration of the nationâ€™s refining capacity.
It still retains all its departments but those that will lead to the growth of the countryâ€™s downstream sector merely exist in name. Its primary business today has been reduced to sharing out unearned monies to government cronies in the name of subsidy and financing wild and reckless campaigns on why Nigerians must depend on wholly imported fuel and must pay more, even when they pay the most price for fuel among other oil producing nations on earth.
The situation bedevilling the Nigerian oil industry can make any person imbued with little modicum of decency to weep his eyes out. The country does not know the amount of fuel we consume each day. We do not know what we produce and what we import. We do not have an idea of the indices that rule out oil industry and what is passed as the amount we pay for subsidy are whimsical forgeries of minds that are irrevocably committed to promoting the ethos of corruption and avarice.
This fact was brought into focus recently when, to its shock, the Nigerian Senate found out that the managing director of the NNPC does not know the volume of fuel what remains of our malfunctioning oil sector refines daily, does not know what we import daily and does not even know the consumption capacity of the country. Under such environment of decay and pitch darkness, who would come to believe the statistics those who are deadly committed to the fuel subsidy removal madness now bandy around? Let us get the facts clear, no one is arguing that the government is paying out such huge figures to its cronies, subalterns and lackeys under the guise of fuel subsidy, in furtherance of this enduring policy of growing corruption to the fullest, but who will swear that such huge figures ultimately trickles down as subsidies on the fuel we consume?
There has been much rumble since the latest round of fuel subsidy and the uncommon obduracy of the Jonathan presidency to force this insidious policy through the stout resistance of Nigerians started. The rumble is being provoked by the reality of an imminent revolt the unpopular policy stands to provoke and the death-wish with which the present regime is going about this subsidy issue.
There have been a plethora of enquiry into the activities of the hideous Nigerian oil industry and the putrid entrails emanating from these elementary probes are shocking as they are informing of the mess that the Nigerian oil industry has been reduced to. From chief priests of the oil industry, who know next to nothing about the workings of the industry to hacked figures that have no real attachment to any form of reality, to open cases of oil theft, under declaration of figures, clear cases of misappropriation of oil proceeds to the payment of slush funds to known cronies and hirelings of those in government, the picture that emanates from the probe of the Nigerian oil industry is as scandalous as it is horrific.
The wonder is while all these allegations and proofs of mismanagement and open theft tumble in, government is not showing any concern. It is rather selling such a fraud as subsidy, with all raw gusto it can muster with its wonky justifications and the oft-recycled pledge to wrought the tenth wonder of the modern world with this latest round of subsidy removal.
The Jonathan government is bluffing its way through age old doubt about the sincerity of government to honour the pledges that have often fore ran fuel subsidy removal in the past. The government is playing deaf and dumb to the stark reality that gangsters and buccaneers find the Nigerian oil industry a haven where they plough unhindered and this has been the single factor that has wrecked the industry. It is going on with its argument of the deaf, to retch up tired and worn out reasons that have been recited fruitlessly in the past, vote out stupendous amounts to sell these dowdy reasons through fictitious and none existing organisations such as Campaign Against Waste and preach to a country that have grown weary from governmental duplicity that it is different from its forebears.
This government is falling back to the dubious and hacked statistics that speak of horrendous theft in the oil sector to force its way through a determined wall of angry and bewildered Nigerian. It is showing every signal that it wants to protect and indeed continue patronising the rouges and vandals while seeking to punish the poor. It is growing increasingly defiant and determined to ride the wind in order to ensure that those it occasionally chooses to pillory as crooks but who are the friends and indeed operatives of the government, are given maximum protection and their sources of extortion are preserved from harmâ€™s way.
We are not hearing of the measures to make our refineries work, we are not hearing of plans to build new refineries even when our poor neighbours are building and commissioning new refineries. We are not hearing of measures to sanitise the filthy oil industry from the very obvious scams trailing it. At best, we are seeing a desperate government willing to plead its incompetence and corrupt tendencies as reasons to visit the long suffering masses with more punishment. Sooner, we may be compelled to import fuel from such countries as Niger and Chad and our leaders and their fronts in the oil industry will pad in flattering sums and pay themselves as subsidies and make a case for Nigerians to pay. It is that bad and this depicts the sorry picture Nigeria has been reduced to.
Let us, for the purpose of argument, admit the unreliable and convenient figure this government is basing its claim of fuel subsidy and its alarm that Nigeria will collapse without removing it. The Federal Government claims that it has subsidised fuel in the past five years to the tune of N3.6 trillion. This is the statistics from the Federal Government. Given the benefit of hindsight and the shambolic way the oil industry is being run, this figure is unreliable and could have been finagled to force this hemlock through. These figures have been paid out even when no commensurate services have been delivered. Those that get these windfalls are the friends of the government. But even if we take this figure as true and admit that indeed, Nigeria paid N3.5 trillion in five years to subsidise fuel that we may buy at the highest price in any major oil producing country, that shows that government is paying something in the region of N700 billion every year to make up for its corruption and inefficiency in maintaining the nationâ€™s oil sector for that is what the subsidy ruse is all about.
Pray, is this the figure a nation that rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars every day from the sale of crude can ill afford? Is this the figure for which an oil rich nation that does not have any known incentive for its people will crash if it continues to bear? Is this the figure a nation whose rulers see every opportunity from the prism of how it helps them to defraud and loot cannot pay?
We remember at the dawn of this regime, Nigerians were almost unanimous in advocating for cuts in size of government as well as an appreciable cut in the recurrent cost of governance, a bewildered nation was told by its president that it is constrained in cutting the size and recurrent cost of governance. It went ahead to constitute an unwieldy cabinet where most appointees are idle hands that look to the numerous perks of governance to finance their elephantine greed.
We are still spending a larger chunk of our multi-trillion naira budget to finance the greed, the inanities and vices of the many hands Jonathan packed into governance. Capital projects and basic infrastructures hardly get a look in, decay and rot have visited all national infrastructure and with each passing day, simple tasks have been enlisted in the long and winding list of rocket sciences this government cannot tackle.
This is the government that is now hanging on the lifeline of fraudulent removal of a none existing subsidy. It is instructive that, with the reality of total mass rejection of this present round of mindless extortion, the many idle hands Jonathan packed into his government to drain the economy have constituted themselves into emergency subsidy task forces to persuade themselves to enforce the subsidy fraud. Their sustenance of that of their huge greed depends on this latest round of mass extortion. They must do this to grow maximally their consuming desire to loot and lay waste since the multi-trillion budgets now seem insufficient for their growing desires. It is indeed pathetic!
All said, apart from the prodding of Breton Woods, to which this government is enslaved, having proved to be soulless and malleable, I believe it is greed that is piloting the present suicidal subsidy nonsense and these have combined to prod a weak and hen pecked Jonathan to the very fringes of suicide. Nigerians must help him and any other persons who predicate their survival on driving the masses to the grave to their waterloo.
I donâ€™t think we need to waste much time on this since he is determined to perish with this fraudulent policy. The battle line is drawn and Nigerians should not shy away from this battle for in it, our potency, especially against the pestilence that has consistently troubled us in form of leadership, would be determined.
â€¢Opara writes in from Lagos