|Ibe Kachikwu, MoS for Petroleum
The emotional hues and cries that have greeted the announcement of a new pump price regime for premium motor spirit – Nigerians most crucial component for survival (there are Nigerians who would rather buy fuel instead of food) have shown us again and again that our first official response to any thing – good or bad is to make noise. It is this noise that has overtime drown the few sounds of reason that would have saved us totally from doomsday.
This price ceiling which the federal government through Kachikwu said is due to removal of subsidy and the deregulation of the downstream sector has been widely described as anti-poor policy, which rightly so, many defendants of the removal today, protested against when the last administration proclaimed such. Yours sincerely was part of the ‘protest’ on Twitter from my Obawole, Ogba,Lagos apartment then.
During the electioneering campaign, General Muhammadu Buhari said without no known duress that there is no subsidy but a sham by a set of people which we have all ceremoniously known to be the cabal and ensured that the 2016 budget didn’t take care of such father christmassing again.
Also, many experts – economists, stakeholders have at one time or the other agreed that deregulation –total deregulation of the downstream is the only way to ensure that PMS will always be available for immediate consumption. This is a fact which we can’t discard.
Although the continuous eyi je eyi o je game that policy makers and the people at the helms of affairs of this nation plays is worrisome.
Very unfortunate, they always tell us how the deregulation of diesel has helped and I wonder if there is any correlation between the two. PMS, the fuel which ranks high in the list of Nigerians consumables cannot be compared with diesel which is consumed industrially. Without mincing words, generators that run on PMS have become our primary source of electricity while the exorbitant – non available electric supply from whoever was commissioned to distribute it is only an alternative. Out of every 10 vehicles that plies the Nigerian roads, only one runs on diesel – the rest use PMS.
This alone has ensured that PMS is a must purchase – must use product in Nigeria, regardless of your financial status. I pass my neighbor is no longer a thing of pride for homes in Nigeria.
Interestingly, once upon a time, there used to be an all important part of our collective lives which a former senate president told us is not for everybody – I will never understand how a man with such a mindset is regarded as a leader in this clime (I hope there will be another day to talk about misleaders who have led us the wrong way).
Today, Nigerians now enjoy a new lease of life through the total deregulation of the telecoms sector – a pivotal link for business, governance and personal engagements which has in no small measure contributed to increase in individual and government’s earnings. This was achieved after those Rogers would call innovators went all out to embrace the new technology and its acclaimed financial pain back then. It must be noted vividly that the government tried to play a part in the sector after deregulation and like every other thing – the government failed.
The example of telecoms sector is more tenable than their failed diesel deregulation. This is why we must ask the government to take its filthy hands off price regulation if truly the sector is now liberal.
You might want to ask what had changed since when I supported #OccupyNigeria in 2012 and why I won’t support it now unless the demands are changed, I will tell you a short story.
During the days of Olusegun Agagu of blessed memory as governor of Ondo State, his urban renewal project for the state capital would affect the businesses of the so many people and after pressure from different quarters, he changed his mind. Today, Akure is a beautiful place to behold (not all parts though) and this is because Mimiko ignored the cries of the people and told them of the greater good. It is important that governments at every level takes decision that will benefit people not just in the interim but have a greater impact in their lives even if they don’t see it that way at the time of execution.
With no regards for their lie about the impenetrable darkness that comes before light, I fault without fear the insincerity of this government with regards to the handling of this issue and this has added more sand to the Garri of the government with different defense coming from various offices in the presidency. This administration knew all this while and pretended to Nigerians like all is well and that we will probably have a reduction in the pump price.
The total deregulation of the downstream sector will not really need the government to be the price giver but just to provide policy framework for investors and build an enabling environment.
Also, the Nigerian Labour Congress that we have all known to be a dog which can only bark to get attention (not even to scare away) and can’t bite should backtrack on her proposed nationwide strike, rather, she should go to the table and negotiate a proportionate wage increment for her members. It is in my opinion, the only sane thing the NLC can do. If however, the government refuses to accede to their request, the NLC should trust that Nigerians will support her if she decides to hit the streets to ask for better pay package for civil servants.
As Nigerians – masses at the receiving end of this policy, we must continue to demand accountability and responsibility from this government – not just at the center, at every level for if we remain silent, they will shortchange us at every opportunity.