-The crisis of the fuel subsidy: Time for revolution in Nigeria-
Dear Mr President Sir,
Permit me to address you directly and openly through this medium. The reasons are obviously clear. Considering the frightening protocols and roadblocks around you (which is concrete evidence that things are not right in our country under your governance), getting access to you â€“ who is supposed to be our father becomes almost impossible. When a child cannot get access to his own father, then there is an anomaly. That is the case. As I cannot continue to bottle up these feelings any longer, I chose this medium, hoping that your aides will not shield you from reading it as usual.
Please follow me gradually. The Nigerian masses, especially the poor, even the old women in my village who did not even know you went all out and voted you as their president. They chanted the slogans, and appreciated the deep meaning which surrounds the fact that “he who does not want goodluck automatically will get badluck“. The poor of Nigeria voted you in mass, because they wished, desired, longed for and prayed for goodluck, which is or who is you â€“ as their president. Thus your name, which I am convinced that you as much believe in its deep connotation, won for you that mandate of service and above all, of rescue of the Nigerians from so many forms of woes and the shackles of various forms of corruption and wicked leadership of those before you, that they have endured for so many decades. Of course many were born into these woes which brought them nothing else but suffering. They grew in it, and consequently died in it. Their children longed for a better life; they saw “goodluck“ coming in their own time, and so they happily voted you to become their president. This is the real story behind the scenes of how you won this presidential mandate, my dear President.
However, it is most unfortunate now that that goodluck has undoubtedly turned into badluck for these poor Nigerians, with all the visible signs that testify to it. The push and insistence to remove the fuel subsidy is one and the latest from your administration. This is coming most tragically, at a time, when the ordinary Nigerian thought that time had finally come when every citizen will enjoy the free gift that God blessed this country with, as other oil-producing nations do. At least, even if the cost of living remains high as the consequence of the global economic crisis, Nigerians expected at least to benefit from free medical services; a dividend of the country`s rank as the 8th largest oil producing country in the whole world. This still remains an illusion, as very unfortunately the reverse is the case. Instead, your government and all those who manipulate it through unintelligent policies want to rob-off even the little dividends from individual self-efforts that the suffering masses struggle everyday to acquire under horrible conditions, coupled with the highest level of insecurity all over the land. Your acquisition of foreign security agents to protect yourself in Aso Rock bears testimony to this, and you leave your children unprotected as preys to insecurity. At least, I believe you travel out to other countries, and you can easily compare the Nigerian state of affairs in these countries and in Nigeria.
Why this move to remove the fuel subsidy? You tell Nigerians that it is in a bid to secure dividends and pay just N18, 000 minimum wage that an insignificant population of civil servants demands. This is very insensitive and inhuman of your administration as we have the facts. What is N18, 000 â€“ about $180 monthly for a family man or woman in Nigeria, who has children to carter for daily? This is not even up to an hourly pay for many workers in many other countries today that have no petrol as we do.
How can your administration choose to lie to us about things that are obvious? Do you not know how many billions of naira that are being stolen everyday by members of your government and their cohorts both in the local, state and federal levels in the name of running and maintaining the government? How can more than 70% of the budget be used to pay the honourable members just for doing practically nothing in the National Assembly and in the various ministries? Look at our roads (of course you people hardly travel on these roads except within choice areas), look at electricity in Nigeria, look at water if at all it could be seen anywhere, look at the hospitals and schools; look at millions of jobless graduates and Nigerian illiterates loitering the streets, pushing many of them to take to kidnapping, in a bid to make both ends meet. The litany is indefinite. Or, are you also ignorant of the many more that are stolen and can never be recovered even when the newspapers make them Headlines? I say billions and billions of naira which can be used to make this country the best in Africa, and one of the best in the world. Money that can be used to take care of our basic needs in this country; these are stolen by our governors, ministers and commissioners, honourables and all their accomplices. Does this situation not touch you Mr. President? At least for the sake of those poor masses that voted you as their goodluck? Why are you almost inactive in the face of these urgent life concerns, and allowing yourself to be misled by those who do not mean good for the country? Instead you are choosing to be busy and to make your government be felt negatively by removing the fuel subsidy â€“ an economic rescue package. Of course for someone who steals away billions of naira, ordinary N65.00 for a litre of fuel becomes nothing for him or her. But what of someone, who earns just N18, 000 a month; how can he or she afford even N65.00 to pay for a litre of fuel, amidst other priorities in daily family life? This is a reality that those who deceive you cannot even imagine because they do not live it. You have to be sure that at least 80% of the Nigerian population live even under this average.
May I hereby reveal certain facts to you Mr. President. Nigeria is on the brink of the most violent revolution that the world has not known. This is going to be aimed at all our corrupt leaders. We can see that it is obviously clear that the EFCC is nothing but a fact-finding commission, which cannot even recover our stolen wealth or prevent the theft from the national treasury that happens even as we speak right now. This is not a threat, but it is a reality, a progressive reality that suits us now in order to cleanse Nigeria and “occupy“ Nigeria, instead the bad eggs will continue to occupy Nigerians and suffocate them. No one who is guilty of stealing the Nigerian wealth away will be spared. And you know, the International Community will turn its back on you and back the masses in revolution [Recall the cases of Tunisia and Ben Ali, Egypt and Hosni Mubarak, Libya and Gaddafi, etc â€“ these leaders once dinned like you with the International Community at the UN]; because it is a crime against humanity, any policy that impoverishes and exterminates the life of the poor and the most vulnerable. Be sure that when it begins, US, UK, France, Russia, Germany, China etc. will all abandon you.
Mr. President, the poor masses may be ignorant and calm some and most of the time but not all the time. The worst is that these grievances have been bottled up for so long, in hope that “goodluck“ might dawn one day. That hope foresaw a near-reality with your coming to occupy Aso Rock, but it becomes so frustrating that the so-expected goodluck has turned into badluck for us.
Consider the statistics. Your government is about to push us beyond our limits of endurance. When that happens, we would certainly be faced with two options: fight back fiercely and doggedly, or submit to incremental but sure death. Most coincidentally, the recent revolution around the Arab world boosts a lot of morale that this first option is going to be inevitable, lucrative and most rewarding. If then it is true that self-preservation is the first law of nature, I expect a sustained, single-minded and uncompromising battle in the coming months, because we have to fiercely fight to preserve our lives before your unfounded policies kill us all. The time may have finally come when the faulty-lines of ethnicity and religion that have historically divided Nigerians will no longer matter. This imminent revolution borders on common interest based on humanitarian reasons.
While over 80% of Nigerians live below the breadline, our legislators of both houses of the National Assembly â€“ members of your government â€“ earn more money than any elected official in the whole world including Barack Obama, President of the world`s biggest economy. Our “goodluck“ president and his cohorts pillage the national treasury daily in the name of maintaining the government, and now want to feed on the poor masses so as to continue in that wickedness. We reject this vehemently Mr President. Our ministers (their wives, sons and teenage daughters) â€“ those you employed into your government, are the most expensive public officials in the world. Check the record through secret intelligence.
Now, simply because a numerically insignificant portion of the population that are only “privileged“ to slave for the government in the civil service asked for a miserly N18, 000 a month minimum wage, your government choose to push every Nigerian, who falls outside the orbit of institutionalised stealing to the brink; to the very edge of existence. We cannot accept this! The same government that is complaining of the unbearable burden of “subsidizing“ fuel prizes for the masses of Nigeria has depleted our foreign reserve by $3.5 billion in 2011 alone in order to subsidize the unconsciously lavish opulence of its members. This is incredible!
In all of this, perhaps the biggest scandal is that among oil-producing countries in the world, Nigerians pay about the most for petrol. While Nigerians currently pay about $1.64 for fuel per gallon, Venezuelans pay only 18 cents per gallon, Iranians pay just 37 cents per gallon, the war-ravaged Libyans pay 54 cents, Saudi Arabians pay 48 cents, Qataris pay 72 cents, Bahrainis pay 78 cents, Turkmens pay 72 cents, Kuwaitis pay 87 cents, Omanis pay $1.17, Yemenis pay $1.32 per gallon. And in all these countries the standard of living is of course light-years higher than that in our dear Nigeria. They all have better social safety nets for their poor.
Again, I read that your government wants to raise the fuel price to N141 per litre at the very minimum, which adds up $3.6 per gallon. That would mean that petrol would even be cheaper in America and some European countries that do not export oil than in Nigeria. We also know that Nigerian importers (a situation which should not be even in the first place; another crime of the government against humanity in this country, whereby our refineries are supposed to be giving us all that we need to consume) always import the lowest possible quality of fuel to the country. Yet nobody can take the responsibility to check this crime, instead your officials connive in this criminality.
Remember Mr. President, too, that the federal minimum wage in the US is $7.25 per hour. You can ask yourself then what is N18, 000 per month to an average low grade clerk in a country that is the world`s 8th largest exporter of oil? Where then is the justice Mr. President in the face of these realities? Why the heavens should we have cream on our faces and we are still dry? Do you now see why Nigerian citizens who have been in the bondage of bad governance for decades have been over patient? Do you now see the justification of any violent revolution on the streets of the country against our corrupt and selfish leaders since the last 30 years at least; who occupy the best houses all over the country and drive in the most expensive cars? Recall that it was a revolution like this that sanitised countries like America, France, Russia, even our neighbouring Ghana, etc.
My passionate advice to you is this, you have to use your executive power and cleanse Nigeria of corrupt leaders at all levels. You, Mr President Goodluck Jonathan have a choice to make now; it is either you listen to the cries of the poor masses, who gave you this mandate, and bring them the basic dividends of good governance, or you be ready to bear the consequence of the inevitable revolution in the months to come. Nigeria`s wealth is being wasted frivolously by these bad leaders. How can a 25 year old son of a state governor (who is just passing out from the national youth service program in 2011) owe a 2-storey building in one of the choicest areas of Abuja? Nobody dares ask how he made this money, instead the government officials collect bribe from him and issues him the Certificate of Occupancy for the property. This is a property that a professor in any Nigerian University cannot even dream of or afford today in all his sweats for many years, except if they go on countless strike actions in a bid for their salary to be increased. There are many of such instances all over the country with the highest level of flagrancy.
Mr. President, know that the Nigerian poor masses are aggrieved to an exploding point. Unlike countries that revolt against personalised regimes of so many years (Tunisia, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, etc.), Nigerians are going to revolt against corrupt leaders and the political class that have kept them in bondage and damaged the fortunes of this country consistently for so many decades. Be ready to bury corpses in mass graves all over the country, unless you take the bull by the horn and act fast. It is urgent, and the clock ticks!
Chimaobi Clement EMEFU,
Imo state, Nigeria.