It isn’t easy for me to find something to post about. There are several reasons for this but it is mostly due to laziness and to a lesser extent – finding blogging inspiration at times/places I am unable to write/type. I have to do better though. I have too much opinion on too many things to not blog. Laziness should not be an obstacle anymore – I am a father now and fatherhood is anti-laziness.
Right, what to blog about today? It has to be about Nigeria. A lot has happened in that country this year – most of it disappointing, depressing and disheartening. So disheartening I have stopped following Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Omojuwa, OccupyNigeria, Xeenarh and many other Nigerian news sharing twitter profiles. I had to do this to retain some sort of sanity as news coming out of Nigeria on a daily basis depressed me. It’s been almost a month now since I unfollowed these people and I think I’ve regained some sanity and I’m now able to put a few of my thoughts and opinions down.
Firstly, I must say I am proud of the #occupynigeria movement and protest that kicked off as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy by the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan led Federal Government. Nigerians have been suffering and smiling for far too long and it is high time they rediscovered their passion for their country and self-wellbeing. Whilst the protest that followed the announcement initially focussed on reversing the subsidy removal, it very quickly metamorphosed into being about social justice as Nigerians through social media wildfire connected en masse as the more discerning part of the populace dissected and exposed the waste in the budgets sent by the federal and state governments to their respective law-making arms for approval. Just like most Nigerian’s, I have also been complacent in scrutinising the spending made by the various levels of government and was equally as shocked to discover the amount of wastage and thievery being perpetrated by the FG most especially. Most staggering was the budgeted cN1billion for 2012, –that’s a staggering cN3m per day – for feeding by the presidential family along with that of the vice president’s. To put it in context, it’s an equivalent of c£12,000 daily. What exactly are they planning on eating? Angels? Even the Queen of England wouldn’t spend that much on food for the whole palace – staff inclusive. There are several more thievery and wastage within the budget – most of which have been very kindly highlighted by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai (you can view these on his website http://el-rufai.org/ ).
What I’ve found particularly disturbing is that Ngozi Okwonjo-Iweala (NOI), Coordinating Minister of the Nigerian economy and Minister of Finance ratified this wasteful budget ahead of its presentation to the National Assembly for passage. For someone held in such a high regard and stature, how come she did not voice her disapproval of the wastage and vehemently too? At first, I purred at her target plan – earlier announced – of reducing the total revenue expenditure of the Federal Government’s budget from a humongous 74% to 70% over four years. The reduction of 4% is presumably to be recycled to capital expenditure but will in no way make any in-roads into the gross under-funding of critical infrastructure and much needed economic development. Of course, seeing the kind of budget she must have assented to at the Federal Executive Council meeting that ratified the 2012 Budget puts her meagre target plan in perspective. It is under this pretext that I find the FG’s decision to remove subsidy on fuel unpalatable. Technically, I agree with the removal, but morally and socially I don’t. It doesn’t make sense to me to remove the subsidy without first addressing systemic issues that will negate the impact of any savings from the said subsidy removal. Without resolving these systemic issues – such as government accountability, probity etc, any savings made from the removal of fuel subsidy will simply fall into the same black hole that all previous government expenditures have fallen into. For example, the FG has been paying for a Hawker 4000XP aircraft to be added to the Presidential fleet, initially budgeted for in 2007 and delivered in 2010 but the FG would have paid another $122m – 2012 inclusive since delivery of the aircraft! Does the plane fly to the moon?
Nigeria and Nigerians are being let down by the very people she is looking up to, to rescue her. Sometimes I wonder if there is any hope for the country if one considers the level of decadence in public accountability, responsibility and probity. It really is a deeply desperate situation. Regardless of how desperate the situation is, one must just simply focus on asking the right questions thereby proffering the right solution. So I am going to write a few posts on attempting, what in my own humble opinion, is the solution(s) to the Nigerian problem.