Your Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu,President and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Dear Mr President,
I hope this message of mine meets you in fine fettle.
I believe since being sworn into office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2023 you probably had not enjoyed a finer week than the last one.
The Presidential elections Petitions Tribunal and the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the case instituted by your opponents at the February 23 presidential elections Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party respectively and your victory in that election as the president of Nigeria was reaffirmed.
From far away India where you were attending the G20 summit by special invitation and while keeping a keen eye on proceedings back home in Nigeria, you were able to attract pledges of about 14 billion dollars’ worth of investment for the country.
By all considerations scoring two massive back to back hits within the space of a couple of days is certainly a cause for celebration.
But if you sensed that Nigerians did not pour out in their millions onto the streets to celebrate these momentous achievements, it is simply because majority of your compatriots are physically and psychologically knackered by the prevailing conditions in the country.
Nigerians have been so beaten to a state of near stupor by the debilitating socio-economic conditions in the country they now hardly can differentiate between what is worth celebrating and what is not.
As I write this article, millions of Nigerians are hungry and may not have eaten a decent meal today. Things are so dire that the lucky households are the ones that can afford to eat one meal a day. Why is this so in a country that boasts of vast arable land for agricultural cultivation it may be asked?
The direct reason for this is the sudden removal of subsidies on petroleum products which you announced in your inaugural speech on May 29 this year. Because every other thing in this country is tied to the price of petroleum products, prices of items literarily hit the roof from the moment you made the announcement. It was so much so that the price at which one bought an item a minute before the announcement, more than doubled immediately after.
It is not as if Nigerians have not experienced price hikes in petroleum products before. During periodic scarcities of the products there are times and places in the country where prices go even higher than what currently obtain at the filling stations. Because Nigerians perceive such periodic scarcities as temporary the effects are generally tolerable and manageable.
But this particular price hike was not as a result of the usual temporary scarcity of the product which usually pushes up the prices. This hike is a state policy of total deregulation of the oil sector as demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. And it has come to stay with us.
This policy comes right on the heels of a currency change exercise which negatively affected the fortunes and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians, some forever.
For those who managed to emerge from the debilitating currency change policy and were trying to rebuild what was left of their livelihoods, the announced withdrawal of the subsidy on petroleum products was like a final death blow, the shock from which they may never recover.
For sure Mr President, your young administration cannot be blamed entirely for this. It must be admitted and said that you inherited a country that has been badly managed by previous administrations who merely pledged but did not follow up the implementation of necessary reforms that would help the country face up to the expected headwinds of this endeavour. In this regard some are saying that your courage in taking this unprecedented but necessary step should be commended. They complement this by saying that the pains being experienced currently by majority of Nigerians arising from withdrawal of fuel subsidies will eventually give way to national economic development and growth for the all- round benefit of Nigerians. Those who make this argument also say that removing the structural defects of our economy can only be done through shock treatments like the ones you are now doing which had past administrations taken we would not be where we are today.
But compelling as this argument is, it merely provides theoretical assumptions that do not mirror the real situation in the country. In real and practical terms however Nigerians are quite frankly not enamoured on enduring further pains with equanimity in anticipation of better days in either the medium or long term.
In the midst of the excruciating pains Nigerians are currently experiencing exhortations to endure more pains for a ‘’better future’’ hardly make any meaning to their objective reality. Indeed many Nigerians have now come to regard such exhortations as outworn shibboleths. As far as memory can take us every regime or administration in the past had asked this of Nigerians preliminary to introducing harsh socio-economic policies which in the end yields nothing but more hardship.
Mr President it is unfortunate that your administration is coming at a time when Nigerians are literally at the end of their patience with repeated hardships being heaped on them and admonitions to bear them for a mythically ‘’better future’’.
Mr President kindly permit me at this stage to make a comparison with you in this regard. After repeated sacrifices in the political arena where at some point your life was at stake, you were compelled to say ‘’Emi lo kan’’ in clear exasperation at political shenanigans directed at you during the presidential campaigns.
By the same token too Nigerians having become weary and near hopeless in enduring to make sacrifices over the years as demanded of them by successive governments, are now entitled to say ‘’Awa lo kan’’.
The ungarnished truth is that from the rising price of food, transport fares, health care and general cost of living, leading to plummeting standards of living making the most basic items unaffordable, Nigerians are on edge, Mr President.
Mr President the present dire socio-economic situation is ominous and carries with it a nagging and disturbing sense of foreboding. With all due respect, I invite you most humbly to read the tea leaves and smell the coffee. Just as you displayed uncommon courage in tackling the fuel subsidy issue I urge you most respectfully to do something comprehensively about the suffering in the land before it is too late.
Thanks very much sir for your patience in reading my humble submission.