Monday, January 16, 2012

Statement from Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke in regards of Nigeria’s fuel subsidy removal

Please find here the release by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke on the actions she has taken following the widespread protests that followed the fuel subsidy removal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bridging The Chasm Between The Government and The Governed

Many brilliant essays have been written on the matter of Goodluck Jonathan’s abilities as President and the removal of the fuel subsidy; so many that all this while I have deemed it unnecessary to contribute ‘another’ one to the fray. However, for a number of reasons – one of which is posterity – I have decided to craft this.
The Nigerian State is presently plagued by a number of evils – all of which seek immediate attention. From terrorist attacks by Boko Haram to ethnic cleansings in parts of the North; from a long brewing secessionist movement to the fear of reprisal killings in the South, and from a nationwide distrust of government to the ongoing #OccupyNigeria protests and general strike – the very existence of the Nigerian State has not been more threatened in my lifetime.
A variety of opinions exist that seek to provide explanations for these happenings. One could fill many books with academic descriptions of the widespread differences in tongue and thought between Nigeria’s various ethnic groups – and show how they fuel ‘native vs. settler’ ethnic battles – never mind that we are ALL settlers on this planet. Over the past few weeks, compelling economic arguments have been presented by the ‘government side’ – telling a single, unemotional story of the oil subsidy and how it will eventually land us in debt – never mind that the majority of the populace is already grossly indebted.
I think it odd that in this age and time, we still find innovative ways to pass the buck rather than find proactive solutions to these evils. In the past few days, I have watched sadly as the Nigerian President – one of the most powerful in the world by constitutional definition – has helplessly attributed corruption in the ‘subsidy regime’ to a cabal. Even more sadly, he only recently ‘confirmed’ the infiltration of the executive arm of his government by members of the Boko Haram sect – an arm of government that he put together by himself!
While I do not seek to belittle the enormous challenges that confront the Nigerian President and indeed our leaders at various levels in the discharge of their duties – I find that all of ‘these’ may still be ascribed to a lack of political will, a failure of leadership across levels.
There exists a great disconnect between the governed and the government, a result of the failure of the ‘social contract’ that ordinarily exists between a government and her citizenry. The Nigerian government, largely relying on monies sourced from fuel exports to run itself – has little need for individual taxes and the likes – hence its running as an entity separate from the people. The citizenry, apathetic in her outlook until recent, has largely proceeded to ‘govern’ herself – tarring her own roads, providing her own electricity, water supply, and even security – making a life despite the government.
Such issues as the ill-timed removal of the fuel subsidy without attendant moves to cut government waste and police brutality on unarmed protesters are as a result of this ‘disconnect’.
Rather than impose any more hardship on an already impoverished populace, the Nigerian government must be made to lead by example – to start by pruning down the cost of governance itself. Our leaders must learn to live as ‘public servants’, and not as exalted demigods earning obscene allowances. Family heads and tribal leaders must help their people to see beyond the superficial differences that exist between various ethnic groups. Visionary leaders, men who by their very presence inspire hope for the future must arise and build an enabling economic environment and strong democratic institutions.
It remains to be seen whether the Nigerian citizenry will remain resolute in her drive to reclaim the polity from the many cabals who dot her political landscape.
We can do this!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Of Christians, The Kingdom Economy, and Oil Subsidy Removal

In many ways, this article flouts the motley collection of rules that usually guide my style of writing.

It is unusual that I start a post from the middle, write the beginning, and then proceed to the end. However, I intend to do just that in this post. After all, writing is in art – which in my world translates to a field without clearly defined guiding principles.

I start with the class of people on my facebook and twitter timelines who deeply believe the mantra that ‘this world is not my home’. I have seen posts stating that: as lions ‘we’ will not eat grass no matter the economy of the jungle; that no matter the economy of the country, ‘we’ cannot suffer because we run the economy of heaven; that Jehovah Jireh will subsidize us if the Federal Government removes oil subsidy etc. Many of the time, these posts end with the statement “it is not pride, it is just who I am”.

I have also heard clergymen take prayers entreating God to raise the income of their church members to levels where they can conveniently afford the widespread increase in prices occasioned as a result of the removal of the fuel subsidy.

I wonder what ideology gives raise to such posts and prayers, but I get ahead of myself.

I believe in everyone’s right to their own opinion – no matter how much such opinions are at variance with mine, and like I have stated severally – I never try to force my values on others. I do not write this in a bid to convert anyone to my school of thought; I write to posit my own opinion – peradventure something in here might cause someone out there to thoroughly evaluate their perspective and re-consider their stand.

When I speak to Christian gatherings on such matters as these, I often try to draw a parallel between the ideal perspective of a Christian and the Bible’s injunction to Israelite exiles in Babylon as contained in Jeremiah 29: 7. "Make yourselves at home there and work for the country's welfare. Pray for Babylon's well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you”.

My understanding of Christianity involves a great deal of social relevance, of being a shining light in the darkness of a confused world, of speaking out for the less-privileged, and of taking a strong stand against oppression.

That stated, I am of the opinion that prayers such as described above – relevant though they may be – are an abrogation of the church’s social responsibility. In fact, it may be argued that they are attempts to transfer the responsibility for the removal of the oil subsidy as a result of human corruption to God.

In my perspective, such thoughts and prayers try to isolate the success of the ‘believer’ from the economic environment of the nation they live in – an act that is clearly impossible. The Bible states unequivocally, “if things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you”.

In a later post, I will state my stand on the removal of the oil subsidy – and explain why I stand where I do.

If you have thoughts at variance with those I have expressed here, please feel free to drop a comment. We could get a nice discussion going.

Friday, January 06, 2012

#OccupyNigeria in #Ife : Photonews

The move to #occupyNigeria in Ile- #Ife started with a mass movement from the Modakeke market.

Plans were initially to block the Ife-Ibadan expressway, and it was briefly considered to block the Ibadan-Akure expressway that leads on to Abuja so that the movement would have a widely noticeable effect.

In the long run, it was decided to postpone plans to lockdown the expressway to next week while we went around sensitizing people in Ile-Ife town today...

Below are some pictures from the #occupyNigeria movement in #Ife today.

I would like to see the Industrial Court stop market women, bus drivers, and angry students - everyday people - from getting on the streets and demanding their rights from an insensitive government!

Market women

 Market women

 Dr. Ife Adewunmi - Chairman of ASUU addressing the crowd
  Dr. Ife Adewunmi - Chairman of ASUU addressing the crowd

 Myself and Professor Ogbimi, author of the book 'Solution to Mass Unemployment in Nigeria'

  Dr. Ife Adewunmi - Chairman of ASUU addressing the crowd