"My subsidy removal is better than yours"

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Photo Credits: www.dailypostng.com

 I saw the headlines yesterday: “NLC suspends strike”.

(Who knew there was a strike?)

I believe deep down, somewhere in the recesses of their minds, the Nigerian Labour Congress executives knew the 'strike' against the recent increase in fuel price was doomed from the start.

It fell flat.

Like the wall of Jericho.

They knew they did not have the united blessings of the Nigerian populace. That type of blessing they were showered with in 2012, which featured one of the most successful civil protests Nigeria has ever witnessed.

That type of blessing is a once-in-a-decade blessing.

We are still mid-decade.

If you were anything like me in 2012, you marched the streets of your state in righteous indignation at the removal of the one thing that symbolized the Nigerian government actually doing something for its people: subsidizing the cost of petrol.

If you were like me, you were probably among the first to join in the protests, braved the police formation while yet unsure of how successful the strike would turn out, even officially taking days off work to perform your civic obligations and 'save' your country.

Perhaps, you joined in when the strike had picked momentum; joining the flood of humans to occupy the streets, chanting "bring back the subsidy!"

Or you probably were among the ones who took ingenuity further, and brought out their house furnishings to literally occupy their areas of abode.

Everyone, contributing their own quota to the joyous revolution.

Like the animals in Animal Farm.

If you are anything like me now, on hearing the planned strike, you probably wished it away, continued with your plans for the week, and embarked on mono-brainstorming, in order to devise ways for more streams of income to survive the fuel hike.

What changed?

The easily identifiable cause of lack of interest by the Nigerian populace in last week's 'strike' (inaction) may be that the previous strike, though successful, had ended in the most abrupt and unceremonious manner, leaving not quite a few people forever disillusioned, and the masses without closure.

The NLC struck a deal that was not just theirs to strike. Their key members were subsequently catapulted into exalted positions.

(Fool me once...fool me twice..??)

Economic 'pundits' have attempted to sell brilliant arguments on why this fuel hike was inevitable and thus ‘successful’: “dollar is scarce”, they say. Importers now have to source their own dollars to import fuel; 

My only take-away from this justification is that we are not yet paying for subsidy removal; we are paying for the scarcity of dollars to trade with. So technically, subsidy has not yet been removed.

(I almost fear for what the future holds)

Die-hard faithfuls of this government have also submitted that the disinterest by the Nigerian populace in protesting the hike is owing to the perceptible 'sincerity' of this government, so that the citizens know their collective wealth is secured. After all, this government can only mean well for the people.

They argue that the people understand that this government differs from the last government, which robbed us stark naked, in living daylight and crystal moonlight.

I doubt that this is the case. That the people are quiet because they absolutely believe in the sainthood of the present leaders.
The same old faces who have contributed their quota by action or omission over the decades to the (seeming) unending rot we as a country have continued to endure are the same 'new' faces in power.
The cost of government is still high. Senators are still being paid their jumbo jackpots at our expense. Our 'servants' are still living the high-and-mighty life, unreachable by the common man, oblivious to the realities of regular hardship in this tough country.
The (non)reaction of the masses to the hike in fuel price via protests has nothing to do with the (unproven) sincerity of the present administration.

It has nothing to do with their understanding the economic mechanics of the foreign exchange market.

(We are laymen. We do not care for dollars. We just want food on our tables; clothes on our backs)

I dare say it is not even entirely about the prior betrayal of the NLC. Nigerians are used to being swindled; that was not the first.

The inaction by the Nigerian people against the fuel hike is summarized in three words:

Nigerians are tired.

They have seen, heard, felt the worst. And when they think have reached breaking point, the absolute worst gets worse.

This vicious cycle has been ongoing since the ’50, the ’60s, the ’70s….till date. Government in, government out. Each administration which its own sob story.

Nigerians are finally coming to terms with the fact that the new-age Messiah they seek lies in each Nigerian. Whatever energy left is to preserve one’s self against whatever madness in the guise of economic hardship that is yet to come.

This tiredness/lethargy/inaction however symbolizes something far deeper: a growing disinterest and nonchalance in the affairs of the present administration.

It is only a fool who would take this ‘silence’ lightly.

For while Nigerians may be too tired to protest the extra hardship they face now, this state of inaction may be quickly converted into a fiery fire, burning through the next polls.

It is fundamental for this government to prove to the people well before then that the hardship they experience now was worth the trouble.

For now, stop the immodest gloating; that this subsidy removal – ‘your’ subsidy removal - is better and more successful than the last one. That it has been marked with a silent stamp of approval by the Nigerian people.

This subsidy removal may have attracted less resistance than the last one. This does not signify it was successful…or accepted.

It is only time that will tell.



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  1. True... the inaction of the Nigerian populace should not be taken as a seal of approval by the present administration. The NLC as a body has lost the confidence of the Nigerian people, we do not believe they fight for our cause but for their pockets. Look at the current political standings of the past Leaders of the NLC and TUC and u'ld understand. Only time will surely tell if this current hardship the masses have to endure as a result of all the many changes was worth it.

  2. Only time will tell my sister