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Open letter to President Tinubu on State of the Nation (II)

Mr President, I am bringing to your attention the issue of the legal status (or lack of it) of both the IMF and World Bank…

Mr President, I am bringing to your attention the issue of the legal status (or lack of it) of both the IMF and World Bank because following the unilateral alteration/amendment of the 1945 terms of agreement of the two institutions by the government of the United States of America in 1971, our government needed to review our involvement with them and ratify accordingly.

Although Nigeria was under military government then, the ratification should have been done once a democratic civilian administration was in place to give our involvement with these two bodies the necessary legality and legitimacy.

To the best of my knowledge, the ratification was not done during the Shehu Shagari administration which was the last fully constituted civilian administration. And in this present civilian democratic dispensation, no such ratification has been done. Ultimately this renders all involvement with the two institutions from 1971 till date illegal under law and which can be challenged in the courts of law.

Aside from your illegal dealings with the IMF and World Bank, Mr President, let us look at your act of increasing the price of petroleum products which you did without prior consultations with anybody in this 200 million plus population country. You told us airily and with a rather triumphant tone that “fuel subsidy has been removed’’. You hinged your reason for doing that on many factors; it was not provided in the budget of the administration that preceded yours; it was being criminally abused by players who skim off huge monies and did not supply any products; such huge amounts of money if removed will be directed at socially ameliorative programmes and projects like health services, transportation, education and the like. It will result in the long-time desired full deregulation of the operations of the oil and gas sector.

Mr President the facts on the ground show that you sold Nigerians a dummy when you said subsidy had been totally removed on petroleum subsidy. Contrary to what you pronounced on May 29, 2023, subsidy is alive and kicking in the oil and gas sector.

If we are still not producing the products domestically despite the promises and expectations of the coming on stream of the refurbished Port Harcourt and Dangote refineries, then somebody must be importing the products we are using now. And if you factor in the entire value chain of importing the stuff to the point of landing in our ports and distribution all over the country, the price at which we pay for the products in our filling stations now can only be feasible if the importers are being subsidised to procure the products. That subsidy ranges from dollars at favourable exchange rates, cost of tankers and freight, clearance at the ports and distribution to depots and on to filling stations.

If subsidy had been totally removed in the oil and gas sector as you said Mr President, the price of petroleum products should be selling at around N1000 per litre now. The difference in the price we pay at the pumps now, which is between N620 and N680 per litre depending on location, and the approximate price of N1000 we should be paying, is the subsidy being paid to persons unknown who are licensed to import the products. And if we consider the likely dubious uses of the favourable foreign exchange dollars granted such importers the opaque subsidy beneficiaries must be making a mind-boggling killing. 

Mr President as the substantive Petroleum Minister, you will definitely know those who are enjoying the subsidy now because the amount runs to trillions which cannot escape your notice. Are you in cahoots with them or is the proverbial camel going through the eye of the needle in a ministry in which you are its oga pata pata without your knowledge?

Mr President, to be honest, very few in Nigeria now believe that your economic reforms, such as it is, can take the country anywhere but into more hardship. As you have done with your other policies, you announced them clumsily and without an accompanying comprehensive plan of implementation that would benefit the majority of the people of this country.

Your reforms are basically a smart accountant’s plan of using the IMF template to identify where and how to maximise the revenue taken in the system; just like you did in your tenure as governor of Lagos State. That explains why as yet those you appointed to manage the economy are at a loss on how to explain to Nigerians the implications of your economic policies on the country.

Your economic policies are flawed, questionable, contradictory and actionable. They are flawed because they do not include the fundamentals of how to manage an economy. They are questionable because they are mainly directed at securing outcomes that benefit only a few at the expense of the majority and they are actionable because of the legal implications of dealing with international institutions whose status has not been ratified by relevant institutions of Nigeria. 

Mr President, the realistic thing to do under the circumstances is to go back to the drawing board. You started on this journey which is a matter of grave economic, political and social implications with authoritarian hubris. Even military dictators Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha saw it fit to consult and dialogue with Nigerians on their economic plans and presented realistic pathways to cushion their effect on the people.

Now even as Nigeria is on the verge of social revolt, you have refused to see the handwriting on the wall, choosing to inflict more hardship on the people who voted you to power and on whose behalf you are ruling. 

Mr President, you are in a hole now with your economic policies and the best choice for you and us all is to go back where you started. It is now clear that your subsidy removal claim is a hoax and that you meant it to deny the majority of Nigerians that God-given benefits while transferring it to a few who are enjoying it under your watch. It is unjustifiable, economically and morally.

Your call for Nigerians to be patient is not tenable because you neither consulted them before you embarked on the reforms nor have you unfolded plans to cushion their effects. It is either you return the subsidies fully so all Nigerians can enjoy it while you take care of the abusers, or you remove it totally from the system so that we all suffer its consequences.

Thanks for your patience in reading this missive.

Your Compatriot, Iliyasu Gadu (Concluded)

 

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