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FG-The Father, NNPCL-The Mother, MASSES-The Children.

"Subsidy, Sub-sidy, Subsidies, Sub-si-dies as a term, has been on the lips of Nigerians for a while but it has generated more intense debates and scrutiny in the last one or two weeks." Kilanko.

Following the cowboyish declaration of Mr President within the hour of his swearing in as the President of the Federal by Republic of Nigeria that, “Fuel Subsidy Is Gone,” the country has been thrown into a state of confusion because, the expectations of Nigerians were at variance with the May 29 2023 dagger targeted at the chest of the masses of this great nation.

Subsidy, Sub-sidy, Subsidies, Sub-si-dies as a term, has been on the lips of Nigerians for a while but it has generated more intense debates and scrutiny in the last one or two weeks.

From those who believe in its non-existence, to those who think it exists but fraught with fraud, and to those who are convinced it is a complete scam; subsidy has become a political calculus in our social-political discourse because of different interpretations, meanings and understandings it connotes in the minds of Nigerians.

For those and some of us who believe in the nonexistence of subsidy, going by the statement by the GMD of NNPC just last week during an interview that NNPC made 687 trillion naira in the fiscal year 2021, begs the question why the removal of subsidiy that is a myth. And even at that, let us assume without conceding that it is a real scheme, why the rush?

One would have thought that Mr Tinubu would have had mercy on the masses of this country coming to power and, having come this far, it was quite shocking the approach he adopted.

Why the rush? RAMFAC just alleged the NNPC is yet to remit about 8 trillion naira into federation account while the NNPC was impatient in changing the price template the next day following President Tinubu’s subsidy announcement. NNPC only claimed, allegedly that the FG is owing only about 3 trillion in subsidy.

Is it not mind boggling and heart wrenching to have our Daddy the FG and our Mummy NNPC treat us the Children; the Masses in this manner?

Daddy claims he is broke meanwhile Mummy is making a killing in the business Daddy established for her (687 trillion profit in fiscal year 2021), Daddy couldn’t plead for a little time on behalf of his children to Mummy (NNPC) to sort out things. 

Daddy (FG) declared he couldn’t afford feeding, school fees for his many children; teenagers, girls and boys.

Daddy (FG) is acting irresponsibly not mindful of the fact that his children are at a stage where they are the most vulnerable, girls needing toiletries supplies and boys out of school living in distress, feeding poorly and can easily be lured away with a token by predators out there.

Mummy (NNPC) does not give a hoot about the welfare state of her children. She is only concerned about the acquisition of wealth and huge profits and deposits in her coffers. She has recommended the girls should fend for themselves hawking on the streets and the boys find construction work picking and moving buckets on site.

We have seen some veteran journalists and experts so to say, come out in support and defense of the removal of subsidy calling it bold and courageous on the part of President Tinubu; a daring move against the cabal as if the so-called imaginary cabal has anything to lose other than heaping the economic burden on the majority of poor Nigerians. 

Many of these journalists and analysts never demand for a cut in the perks and emoluments of the Presidency and the National Assembly or even a reduction of waste in terms of cut in cost of governance.

It remains to be seen how the economy is going to withstand the impact of the removal of subsidy which is to be followed by unification and floating of naira raising the official rate and subsequently the price of PMS to between N750-N850.

Why the rush? If the plan to cushion the effect of the removal had been prioritized, the FG could have hit a home run with 45k to 60k offer to labor as the new minimum wage, with agreement of increments over subsequent years with Labour Union. I was thinking with the current reality on the ground, Labour would start with a request of 120k. 

It is interesting and at the same time concerning to see Labour start their demand at 200k. The survival of the private sector in the country where workers are hired on contract basis, owed salaries just like the state governments and the fact that talks about wages would not extend to them meaning their workers would be subjected to realities of the subsidy removal with no shield or safety net for private workers, only suggest the economic suffering people would face in the coming months.

Why in a hurry? As we enter the next phase in the subsidy removal era, the government would be realizing some unintended consequences of their actions. 

There is a need to source for forex by marketers, dollars in order to restock PMS, manufacturers are already complaining about losing about 50 percent capacity.

The complications and bumps on the way as they rear their ugly heads is a sign that we might be heading towards recession.

It makes no sense for this government to start with an avoidable economic downturn. It is still possible to reverse this decision of subsidy removal but unify and float the naira so as to breathe life into the economy in a way.

For those who are prodding President Tinubu saying he has done something special no one has ever done in the history of the country; taking a tough decision, that was the same way they were praising PMB to high heavens for many of the bad decisions he took which adversely, impacted the economy only for them to start condemning him as the steps backfired.

Journalists who are supposed to know better are the ones justifying bad deals and talking about the country servicing debt with 119 percent of our revenue, describing the situation at every opportunity as unsustainable. I could recall this was their position in PMB days. If care is not taken, 238 percent is what would be used to service debt with the present economic trajectory of this government.

When you ground your economy with this type of move, how would you pay for salaries and infrastructural developments when you are starting with a crawling economy.

We have heard enough of it is going to get bad before it gets better. This was the message when PMB got onboard and it didn’t get any better when PMB was exiting. Nigerians have suffered so much from leaders taking uninformed decisions all in a fashion that is just mere superficial reactions, a cosmetic semblance to fighting corruption.

For a leader who dreams and thinks about masses first, it would be difficult to just announce removal of subsidy just like that. This is a decision that would affect millions of people, young, old, women. Therefore, one would have expected to see efforts and energy geared towards alleviating the suffering of the poor.

A scenario where Daddy (FG) is so weak to plead on behalf of the Children (Masses) to Mummy (NNPC) that rakes in N687 trillion in 2021 alone yet to transfer 8 trillion belonging to Daddy (FG) to the federation account but very impatient in complaining and demanding 2.3 trillion or thereabout subsidy payments for the last months.

Daddy (FG) having sent Children (Masses) out of the home to fend for themselves, rent, feeding,school fees and the rest with tacit approval of flamboyant Mummy (NNPCL) that only enjoys for instance endless (T.A.M) wasteful spending with the dictates and advice from boyfriends fill in the gap I-F and W- to remove subsidy on PMS.

It then begs the question as to what good is the existence of NNPCL? To what end is its' accumulation of trillions of naira when FG is grumbling that it is broke and NNPCL appears not to be of help. Who owns NNPCL? How much is FG’s stake in NNPCL? Who are the other stakeholders in NNPCL?

Daddy (FG) was at a point, due to plea and pressure from Children (MASSES) as to why they should be abandoned in this manner was forced to do something about the plight of the children and was offered a sort of help by Mummy’s (NNPCL) boyfriends, I-F and W-, the $800 million to cushion the effect of subsidy removal.

It is quite funny and, at the same rate scary and unfortunate how desperate, committed and deliberate Mummy’s (NNPCL) boyfriends (I-F and W-) are at tele-guiding the affairs of the Children (Masses).

There is a tremendous pressure on Daddy (FG) that the loan about to be approved could only be spent on junk food, Cheese and Doritos or Popcorn and Groundnut (Cash Transfer). Why they never want the children to feed well is still baffling as all they want to see are children with stunted growth due to malnutrition.

The collective spirit of Nigerians would not forgive and let Daddy (FG) rest if this fund is spent on (Cash Transfers) because it is a fraud as it sounds. You know the substance an administration is made of by the quality of decision made at critical juncture in the life of an administration, should the 800m dollar be used for Cash Transfer, then it could be predicted with all certainty that this government would end up as what we can describe as junk.

There are quite a number of beautiful and laudable proposals out there on how to go about the palliative program. CNG conversion for buses, procurement of a number of buses per local government (774 LGs) with employment of drivers to go with it and work for the administrators. 

Road infrastructure development in agricultural areas in each of the regions to facilitate easy and affordable transportation of produce so as to bring about a drop in price of goods and services in general. Working closely with Dangote so as to ensure the capability and capacity of its refinery in refining crude and power generation capacity of 435MW of electricity come onboard with no delay at the appropriate time scheduled.

These are packages that could be easily integrated into the economy which at the end would add value to it not the hollow and shallow Cash Transfer scheme that leaks cash as intended by its designers.

Some of us are very elated to learn that the news about the opening of borders was fake. I pray it should remain fake because the only cover the local economy has is the closure. 

A contemplation of opening the border is a complication by way of contamination of our markets with the exposure to the floodgates of cheap finished goods by opportunistic importers and merchants to the detriment of our local manufacturers and producers risking all to sustain the economy.

This will only spell a death knell on the economy as it is. Opening of the border is a no-go area at this point and in the foreseeable future because the first time PMB’s government recorded a 4-6 percent GDP growth was after the closure of the borders some years back.

Lastly, for the journalists having erection in defending the shabby way this removal is being handled, joining the bandwagon of former Governor Fashola in claiming the subsidy was removed by the previous administration of President Buhari. 

It is the most condescending, the most ridiculous defense I have heard in recent times.The question is; if it is true that the subsidy was removed by PMB’s government, how come PMS was selling between N185-N230 per liter up to the point PMB handed over, until PBAT made his own announcement about subsidy removal? How come the price was not N530 per liter by NNPCL?

How come NNPCL didn’t roll out the present template of PMS price per state then?

Nigerians are already missing PMB if you wouldn’t stop defending the indefensible because Nigerians would prefer PMB’s fuel subsidy removal which maintains the old price of N195 rather than PBAT’s regime claiming it did not remove the subsidy but prices shot higher to N530 per liter. 

Fashola's way is the street where lawyering of issues (spin doctor operations) take place like tailoring as in patching of torn dresses.

Mr. Adedeji O Kilanko Writes From Elekuro, Ibadan.

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