22nd December, 2011
Earlier in the week, the federal government released a document on how it intends to invest the proceeds from the removal of fuel subsidy, though we all know how it had been in the past after such an exercise. The document was full of lofty promises, which, if truly implemented, would help greatly improve the economy as the problems of electricity, roads, railway and security, among others would be addressed.
But the planned removal is not really the solution. The solution stares us all in the face but we seem not to see it. We believe that our culture of waste should be curtailed, right from the local councillor to the president and his ministers.
The stupendous amount that Nigerians pay public officers, if spent, for instance, on the provision of electricity, can jump-start the economy and Nigeria would be back on the track to prosperity.
If the president, governors, local government chairmen, ministers and commissioners, including heads of parastatals reduce the number of aides and allow their salaries and allowances to be reduced to the civil service level, then we would begin to get it right.
A situation in which a Nigerian lawmaker earns more than the president of the United States of America is ridiculous, to say the very least. Politics is about service, not improper enrichment through salaries and allowances one does not really work for. Very few Nigerians are happy that their elected officers smile home every month with millions of naira while the average Nigerian struggles to make ends meet.
At every opportunity, President Goodluck Jonathan reminds Nigerians that he feels their pain but that there was no going back on the removal of fuel subsidy, because it was in the overall interest of the country and not a deliberate move to inflict pains on the people, but very few Nigerians believe this.
In the United States on which democracy ours in based, elected public officers are not paid such unbelievable amounts of money as salaries and allowances. Unlike elected public officers in the United States, government officials enjoy free meals, vehicles and transportation including fueling, first class flight tickets, medical treatment abroad, free electricity, free housing among many other profligate spending.
We believe if government addresses all of the above plus the waste called security vote, billions of naira would be saved, which can be used to subsidise fuel, if at all it is being subsidised like the government claims.
The number of aides that a minister has should be reduced while the office of wives of serving public officers should be scrapped, after all, Nigerians did not elect them.
Just like the supporters of the fuel subsidy removal are trying to ram down Nigerianâ€™s throats, the president and his aides should find other ways out of the problem, if there is one. Nigerians are tired of indirectly subsidising elected public officer, their families and cronies.
The Federal Government should also look deeper into the can of worms called NNPC and its allies. Billions of naira, which could be put into better use for Nigerians, end up in private pockets, enriching few to the detriment of the majority.
Removing fuel subsidy should not be the only solution, the Federal Government should look inwards and not attempt to put the burden on ordinary Nigerians.