By Bayo Fasunwon
As one advances in age, the significance of experiences come to fore. Back in time when yours truly was a secondary school student, we noticed a trend in the health center. Man students in the boarding houses had sores on their big toes. It became so rampant that limping became a normal way of walking. Investigations into the cause of these sores revealed a hilarious explanation that proved that animals were also scientific in their approach to living. It was discovered that rats caused the sores. Rats? How? Well, it was the elderly Matrons, who discovered the secret. While the students slept, rats would tiptoe to their toes and start eating the big toe. Well, if you are being bitten by rats, one should wake up. However, the students never woke up. Seemed they were under sedatives. Sedatives? Yes, but prepared by the rats. The science of their sedatives was that while the rats feasted on the toes, they also blew air on the sores, soothing their victims. Therefore, the temporary breeze produced sweet sensations that made the students sleep while their limp is being endowed.
The present Nigeria government is a rat. Before the 201 elections, Nigerians were tire of the situations of the country, and earnestly desired a change. A change from corruption, impunity, gregariousness, brutality, and seemingly weak Presidency. Nigerians were made to believe in the propaganda that the regime in power then was the worst thing that had ever happened to the people and nation. Manageable living conditions were hyped and described as ‘living hell’, and promises of a better life was promised to all and sundry. Alas, the ring was removed from the finger of the ‘clueless’ government and inserted into the fingers of revolutionary ‘Change evangelists’, and the wait began. Like the expectations for the return of the Messiah, the eyes of Nigerians are growing weary for the change that never came but ushered in the ‘Next Level’ deprivations. In the first four years of administration, government blamed its failures on past administrations, disguising its incompetence under the misleading cloak of pity.
Under the ‘Change revivalists’, the greatest cause of poverty, rising costs of living, and inflation had been the incessant increases in the price of Petroleum and related products. This administration had taken the goodwill enjoyed by the citizens to the level of impunity and regulated impoverishment of the citizens. Various policies of deregulations inherited or developed by this administration have not in any way produced competition and service delivery, but hardship and pain in the end. Now, government had proposed to eradicate fuel subsidy to save funds for greater developmental projects and ideas in the country. To me, it is another tales by moonlight. Yours truly has observed the politics of fuel subsidy and recorded a trend. Fuel subsidy in all intents and purposes is a programme that enriches the Sherlock merchants who ‘supply’ refined crude oil products, and government in power who hide under the programme to legalise their corrupt activities. The truth therefore remains that accurate data on this clandestine policy can never be seen. If it a policy that enriches the elites, increase the price of PMS to #1000 per litre, government would still inform the impoverished masses that ‘subsidy, despite government’s efforts is still been paid, though at a reduced cost’. With subsidy removal, purchasing power is reduced, allocations to State would surprisingly dwindle, and salaries would remain unpaid. Fuel subsidy removal and consequent deterioration of living conditions is a political tool of impoverishing Nigerians before elections are held so that votes and conscience buying becomes easy.
Government as Rats over the years promised programmes of alleviations to ‘reduce the impact of subsidy removal’. In the voice of the President, ‘school feeding programmes, trader money, and welfare packages to the vulnerable’ which cost more than fuel subsidies have been ‘ratted’ out to cushion the initial effects but increased the limp of Nigerians. Up until today, there is no verifiable data, despite the Freedom of Information Act, that reveals the beneficiaries and amounts expended. Possibly the ‘looted’ hidden COVID handouts justifies government’s intended largess to the people. In the past, when fuel subsidies were being removed, ‘Workers Buses’ were to be provided. The question is ‘where are they now?’ Even the so-called minimum wage of paltry #30,000 (which many have not received) is now far less than the former minimum wages in the country. Now with the ‘transport subsidy’, to unknown and handpicked Nigerians, another conduit pipe is being created.
A sincere government would have over the years ensured that at least one of the refineries is made productive. The various modular refineries that could also ease the burden of fuel imports have remained paper Tigers, while many ‘illegal but productive’ refineries have been destroyed across the Niger-Delta. In the same way importations were banned without making preparations for substitution, subsidy is also to be removed without a concrete, tested and workable programme to ensure that removed subsidy would not resurrect again as government’s ‘indispensable’ programme.
Salary increases, transport subsidies, welfare monies and other untraceable incentives of government to Nigerians are just the breath of Rats on cannibalized Nigerians. If these programs are started, yours truly can predict that they would be short lived and would not in any way alleviate the sufferings of the people. rather than depending on imports, and construction of relics with borrowed funds, government could at least channel some of her borrowed funds into building refineries that would solve the issues of subsidies forever and also generate funds for the present and future Nigerians. Enough of government making the poor innocent Nigerians pay for the corruption of the ruling elites. If government is sincere about loving the people, let us see the annihilation of corruption, and repatriation of stolen wealth that ensures we do not import fuel again. It is time we as Nigerians wake up from slumber, reject the soothing palliatives of the consuming rats, and stop these deliberate infestations and induced limping of loyal citizens.