Sunday, May 15, 2016 1:50 am
By Sikiru Eniola
The press statements on this subsidy stories are too complex for the common man to understand. Government must tell the whole story and garner the will to deal with the culprits. The underlining fact behind the inability of the Private distributors is that the few dollars they were able to access from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were taken to the open market for sales. Thus, all attempts by government to break even were frustrated by the independent marketers.
Secondly, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) tried very hard, admirably, to meet at least 70% of the supplies to Nigerians. Unfortunately, fuel trucks were diverted to neighbouring countries for black marketing. There were even allegations that a Governor somewhere in the south west hijacked NNPC trucks for black marketing. These frustrations and the lack of the will to deal with identified problems and their perpetrators, seemed too much for Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and his team.
Thirdly, private marketers who got subsidized fuel from NNPC almost made the nation ungovernable. This was complicated by the outright failure of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in many states to enforce the normal pump price. Many governors were guilty of watching by while their citizens suffered from the cut throat prices of PMS. Some Governors, including that of Ekiti State, never made any attempt to intervene and check the impunity of the private marketers.
As it were, this sudden increase now is rewarding the private marketers who still have millions of gallons of subsidized petrol from NNPC. In the same manner, it is a monumental punishment for Nigerians who have bore this problem with the optimism that the monopoly of the black marketers will be broken by the Federal Government.
However, all of us are aware that the Muhammadu Buhari administration did not cause any of the problems that brought about this crisis. The failure to build refineries when the oil price was skyrocketing in the world market, the lack of the WILL on the part of the former president and his team to save for the rainy day, according to Iweala and the irresponsible depletion of the nation’s foreign reserves as evidenced in the mindless squandering of our dollars on the eve of the Presidential elections, were all the actions and inactions of yesterday’s men. It is sad that the PMB Govt is operating under severe pressure. PMB must garner the will to deal firmly with problem situations. He should rise above the toga of dictatorship with which he was blackmailed ab initio and take decisive steps to deal with identified problems.
There is a world of difference between opposition politics and collective patriotism to solve national problems affecting all of us. Owing to the deficits of intellectual endowment on the parts of the leadership of some political parties and the incoherence of thoughts, utterances and actions of certain individuals, it has become increasingly difficult to identify the boundary between opposition politics and treasonable acts
There is no way the organized labour and the civil societies will allow this crippling increment to go unchallenged. In other words, government must seize the initiative to enter into immediate truce and dialogue with these representatives of the Nigerian masses. Such a dialogue should focus on cushioning effects and the workability of an immediate increase of the minimum wage. Also, clarifications must be made on the price of fuel at mega stations and the corporate dealers such as Mobil, Total etc. These clarifications must be solidified by massive deployment of NNPC trucks and the companies’ supply trucks to these stations such that citizens won’t have to buy fuel at N 145 per litre every day. If there are regular chances of getting fuel at these stations at 86.50n pet litre, it will be a sort of relief from the private marketers who already adjusted their pumps to N145 even with NNPC fuel in their storage tanks.
Furthermore, there is the need to summon an emergency meeting of the Council of States to talk to governors on the management of funds in their states. We have a governor who started defaulting in salary payments because a neighbouring state is owing its workers many months of salaries. The governors should also mobilize the security agencies in their states to monitor petroleum marketers to avoid hoarding, overpricing and inaccurate volumes of sales.
In conclusion, there are many lies going around in the country. These lies, mostly reflecting the manipulations of ethnic and religious sentiments, have gone viral on all social media platforms. Particularly, many mischief makers are planting inciting stories of a Fulani Agenda, Islamization of Nigeria and other mindless rumours on the grazing bill. The time has come for leaders of thought in religion, politics, civil societies and in the academia to intensify political education in Nigeria.
There is a world of difference between opposition politics and collective patriotism to solve national problems affecting all of us. Owing to the deficits of intellectual endowment on the parts of the leadership of some political parties and the incoherence of thoughts, utterances and actions of certain individuals, it has become increasingly difficult to identify the boundary between opposition politics and treasonable acts. Our leaders must caution themselves at various levels to exhibit maturity and prudence in their actions and utterances.
These are crucial times especially for the organized labour, civil society groups and Nigerian students. The prudent pronouncements and ensuing policies of the FG at this time will go a long way to restore confidence and industrial harmony.
Dr. Sikiru Eniola is an Associate Professor in Ekiti State University