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Fuel Price Hike: Not now, please, Mr President, By Chris Nwaokobia Jnr

By News Express on 18/05/2016

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I do not understand the economics of deregulation at this material time, I know the impact. I do not understand the arithmetic of FOREX availability, I know the huge wound that the removal of subsidy will hand our goodwill. I know that a cabal has bled us dry no thanks to a bogus subsidy regime BUT governance is beyond the propriety of an action, it is about the timing, the effect and the collateral quid pro quo of every governmental action.

I know that you mean well, my Dear President, but even more important is how governance impacts the masses, the time is not right for this awesome policy, not now, Sir.

Two things can be done and quickly too, the first is to sustain the subsidy regime until the profound policies of government begin to impact the economy. Let the Lagos-Calabar and the Lagos-Kano Railway projects begin, let the funding of Federal Projects begin now that the budget has been signed into Law, let the injection of the 350billion mouthed by the Minister of Finance stimulate the economy, and when there is liquidity you can implement the total deregulation policy. To do so now is to ask a shoeless people to buckle their shoes.

The second is even easier, since the EFCC says it has recovered over 3.2 billion Dollars, the government can ply the FOREX into fuel importation using some credible importers and flood the Nation with PMS (fuel), after all the recovered monies belong to government.

The reality is that the workers we expect to appreciate the deregulation policy are being owed salaries in 27 of our 36 states. The students ready and waiting to be mobilised by Labour to resist the new price regime are victims of decades of want, they voted CHANGE believing that the end to their pain is here, we can do better than this Sir. God bless you.

I bother about the conundrum of the fuel price hike, the no subsidy tale, the dearth of FOREX, the acceptance of the new price regime by NUPENG & PENGASSAN, its rejection by organized Labour (NLC & TUC) and the threat to shut down the economy through an indefinite industrial action (strike) from the 18th of May if the price is not reversed.

I have read just about every article available on the pros and cons of the deregulation policy, and unavailability of FOREX. I read the piece by my Dear Vice President, thank God he acknowledged like I do that you are not a fan of the subsidy removal argument. I read the write ups of the great Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, my Egbon Femi Gbajabiamila and several others to convince us that the time for total deregulation is now, but I disagree.

My Dear President what determines the right time for an action in governance are a plethora of variables, it is not like private business or personal trust where the time is always right to do right, it is about the sum not the units. I have read arguments saying that if we do not do it now we may never find the right time to do it, and I wonder if the CHANGE we promised is the presence of a superman who will inflict all the pain for tomorrow’s gain without showing the people tangible variables for which to have faith and hope.

As an unassailable Buharist and a CHANGE Ambassador I implore you Mr President to invalidate the price hike, and in the short run ply the 3.2b Dollars recovered by the EFCC and other returned loots as FOREX for fuel importation. That the NASS should pass the PIB into Law as it takes just 10-16 months to build a 100,000 barrels per day Modular Refinery. What happened to the 1 billion Dollars Kachikwu told us in April he saves from subsidy removal? Sir, we should not tell a belt-less people to tighten their belt. God bless you.

The sense of ‘this will fix it’ that pro deregulation writers and commentators hold is at best unresearched and somewhat hallucinatory. It is some deja vu that shall melt in the crucible of logic. The fire of research and the flames of patriotism shall burn out this chicanery that threatens your goodwill my Dear President.

The fuel price hike will not only worsen the trauma that defines the daily life of the common man but leave us with a failed budget and scores of abandoned projects.

Let’s think together, this time outside the box.

1. Dr Ibe Kachikwu told the Vice President and a select audience of our Leaders, Representatives and Labour that if we continue to use half of our Oil earnings as FOREX to import fuel that in 2months we may not have any money left, that we shall run totally broke, and that there may not be monies for the States to share. Does that imply that we shall cease to sell Crude Oil? Does that mean that the imported products will not be sold and the monies turned around? Does that mean that the Customs, the Federal Board of Inland Revenue and other Agencies of Government shall cease to generate income? We must be careful what we believe and share.

2. What happened to the 1 Billion Dollars he said he saves every month from the removal of subsidy since March?

3. Since the argument has changed from the removal of subsidy to the dearth of FOREX, does the NNPC JV Partners/Oil Majors and their Marketing Units not have access to huge FOREX? Why are they not importing since they do not need the black market for Dollar? And since we know that if they import they can sell at N86.50 without subsidy and still make profit, why the price increase? Or is government being manipulated by corrupt Oil Marketers? Are we replacing the Subsidy Cabal with a FOREX/Independent Marketers Cabal?

4. Those who regale us with comparative analysis of fuel price regimes and rating across the world, have forgotten that amongst the Countries bandied Nigeria has the least minimum wage, do we therefore want the Nigerian worker and the masses to perish before we make real the promises of CHANGE?

5. Chiefly the fuel price hike comes with a surge in the price of goods and services, inflation and poverty soars, crime and villainy doubles, and the peace needed for national growth is threatened, the nation loses.

6. Inflation without an upward review of the contracts already being funded by government shall lead to the non-performance of the budget, non-execution of the contracts and the abandonment of projects, and corruption will fester.

7. Those who have been on social media and on terrestrial news platforms with details of contracts being funded fail to see the morrow, with the fuel price hike comes a future replete with abandoned projects and failed contracts.

8. It is obvious that Dr Ibe Kachikwu’s tales do not jell, even more worrisome is the fact that Government’s Policy analysts and economists delude the nation on the quid pro quo of this absolutely ill-timed deregulation.

9. Fuelling and celebrating the split within the ranks of organised Labour only reminds one of the great divides that attended the last election, my Dear President we should be uniting and unifying the masses of our people and indeed the unions, for in unity and in oneness is strength, it should not matter whether TUC & NLC are opposed to the new price regime and NUPENG & PENGASSAN in support of it, what is wrong is wrong.

10. The most benumbing and dizzying is the news that 1 million poor Nigerians shall soon be paid 5,000 naira each as palliative, Mr President, nothing can be so unfair to your watch. I suspect a conspiracy within to embarrass your government, not only will that worsen a bad inflationary trend it will open a cesspool of corruption. Where is the data? Who will compile it? And at what cost? If we can spend 500billion as pay out to the poor why can't we source FOREX with it and save the country from this messy conundrum.

Sir, the price hike will endanger the BUDGET OF CHANGE through a cocktail of variables, chief is inflation, rise in cost of Labour, low citizen moral, a deep in the credibility and goodwill of leadership, and a surge in villainy, these are a million times costlier and more expensive than the reversal of fuel pump price. You can do it my Dear President, yes you can.

We must think again, may we for the good of Country think outside the box. And may we elevate our thought beyond the margins of the ‘broom’ and the ‘umbrella’ and make NIGERIA the summum bonum. For me it will always be COUNTRY FIRST.

God Bless Nigeria.

Christopher Mustapha Nwaokobia Jnr (shown in photo) is DG, Change Ambassadors of Nigeria, CAN).

Source News Express

Posted 18/05/2016 3:28:55 PM


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