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Cosmetic surgery won’t do Dr PBAT

Some days ago, a post by one Christian Ejiofor, quoting the News Agency of Nigeria, had claimed that the federal government will be taking over…

Some days ago, a post by one Christian Ejiofor, quoting the News Agency of Nigeria, had claimed that the federal government will be taking over the payment of salaries from state governments, and that all Nigerian workers will soon be renamed Nigerian Civil Servants. 

I didn’t know whether to smile or scream after reading it. Is that really all the president is thinking about, when the very crucial matter of inflation and hunger are eating out the hearts of his compatriots?

I felt that the concern with who pays state salaries and renaming of government workers, at this point in our national life, is like taking a patient with broken limbs to cosmetic surgery theatre rather than an orthopaedic one. 

As we all know, what Nigerians need an immediate relief from is the hardship caused by rising cost of living, which is a direct result of this government’s decision to remove subsidy on petroleum products.

Whatever informed this infamous and apparently inhumane decision, on their part, the result is an unprecedented pain and suffering in the lives of ordinary Nigerians. 

And after saying this and protesting it in the many ways we can, what we expected from the federal government is nothing less than a reversal of the subsidy removal policy.

The fact that it isn’t working is very obvious. Even when they said they had channelled the subsidy removed back to state governors, through their monthly FAAC allocations, the impact couldn’t be felt. 

All state governors pocketed the extra dough without a word. Some had enough human compassion to allow it to trickle down to their people through one measure or another. The majority did not change their style one bit, considering the extra money as manna from heaven, to spend as they wished. 

Then the Kaduna State governor, Malam Uba Sani, blew the whistle by saying that he had been getting more than his first month in office, due to the ‘subsidy addition’ to his monthly allocation. 

Others reluctantly admitted to getting more but few of them could say how that extra was used to develop the state or alleviate the suffering of their people.

Even this is enough reason to make President Tinubu apply the reverse gear on his subsidy removal. I mean if the aim was to send the subsidy back through the governors so it can trickle back to the people but it isn’t working why not return to status quo ante, as Atiku Abubakar would say, in order to drop the rising cost of goods and ease our pains? 

But no, apparently the government has the all-important matter of renaming civil servants and relocating their cheque points to worry about the main source of their woes.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the rumoured removal of subsidy on electricity has become a reality. The removal has tripled the cost of this all-important ingredient of modern life and once again we are expected to absorb the shock and move on. 

All kinds of excuses were used by proponents of oil subsidy removal when all they wanted was to get the governors to do it. One famous one was that our petroleum products end up in neighbouring countries because they were the cheapest in the region. 

So does the same excuse apply to our electricity? Is it the cheapest in the region and even if it is, do we have enough of it to say we must remove subsidy to make its supply more effective?

All over the world, and especially the developed world, governments subsidise critical sectors of their economy to make life easier for the people. 

Agriculture, manufacturing, power sector and education are all subsidised by governments to strengthen private sector participation, ensure food security and keep the ordinary man happy and content. 

Here we have a government which inherited a messy economic and security situation but decided to worsen it, for all intents and purposes, rather than address the twin monsters by rolling out measures to ease the situation.

Everyone can see that what has been achieved in the last 11 months of PBAT’s administration has not benefited the ordinary Nigerian in the least.

When floating the naira led to skyrocketing prices of imported goods, even locally made goods continued to rise because the manufacturers and farmers insist the cost of fuel is their undoing. 

And they’ve been proved right, because the fact that our naira is now strengthening against the dollar has not affected inflation at all. 

The price of goods and services, particularly food items, is still high and getting higher.  

Almost 20 years ago, a survey conducted by an international agency said that Nigerians were the happiest people in the world. Another conducted the same year said we were the most religious people in the world, because we had the highest percentage of mosque and church-goers than any other nation. 

I now say that any new survey will definitely show that we are also the most patient people in the world, as far as reacting to government’s inhumane policies is concerned. 

A government that’s put us through so much in less than a year, has decided to add to our woes by removing subsidy on electricity and further sending the price of everything around us to the roofs. 

But maybe not all of us are that patient. Did you notice that bandits and kidnappers are still as active as ever? 

Yes the military routinely reports the killing of kingpins and bandit leaders but so do our news outlets continue to report daily raids and killings in our rural areas and kidnappings in our towns and cities. 

Maybe this is the way the people hit back at the government, for all the insensitive policies around us. 

Maybe the fact that our president would rather address the cosmetic concerns of some people rather than the root cause of our problems is the reason insecurity and hunger will persist. And there won’t be a need to take to the streets in protests when these bandits and kidnappers have made sure we are too scared to be out there demonstrating. 

Yes, these subsidy removals are definitely the one-way ticket to breeding more criminals all over the country. 

There won’t be any gain any way you look at it. Only pain!

 

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