JUST IN: Mr President, Vulnerable Nigerians Are Bleeding Profusely, Stop this Wicked, Evil Electricity Tariff Increase, By Sola Olatunji

Like Elisha in the Bible who received double anointing of his master Elijah at the point of ascension, President Bola Tinubu on May 29, 2023 came with Renewed Hope when he received the mantle from ex-President Muhammadu Buhari. He hit the ground running, wasting no time to announce to Nigeria that fuel subsidy was gone....READ FULL ARTICLE

“Fuel subsidy is gone,” Tinubu declared on that historic day. And the echo of those four words reverberated across the length and breadth of Nigeria. It brought unprecedented pains and anguish on the people. Yet the embattled citizens were more than ready to make sacrifices.

Not too long afterwards came the policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria that added salt to the people’s injury. Hunger, gnashing of teeth and hopelessness took over the land. Yet the bleeding was without end.

Yes, the CBN policies have energized the naira against foreign currencies, but the price of noodles, rice, vegetable oil, onion remain on roof top lending credence to the saying that whatever goes up in Nigeria never comes down.

Mr President, Nigerians appreciate your passion and determination to leave an indelible legacy on the social landscape of this country before the expiration of your first four years tenure.

We are also aware that Nigerians are impatiently waiting for the low hanging fruits of renewed hope agenda which was liken to the Marshall Plan of the former US president, Harry Truman in an attempt to reflate the economy of Europe after the devastations caused by the Second World War.

Nigerians are also aware of the enormous problems confronting this country over the years and conscious of the fact that all these problems can’t be solved within a short while.

But we are getting extremely disturbed that the president is putting many irons on the fire at the same time in an attempt to solve our problems. We are saying that removing subsidies from all public utilities is unacceptable.

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In the first instance, petrol subsidy was removed in a military fashion approach. Although no one is quarrelling with this, except that it was done without a prior plan for mitigation. As we speak today, Nigerians are still battling with hyper-inflation thrown up by petrol subsidy removal..

We have just woken up to yet another unfriendly subsidy removal on electricity. I saw the power minister, trying to justify the new tariff. I was ashamed of myself, having a person like that in such an exalted position when we had brilliant Nigerians who could do the job better.

How can anyone in his right frame of mind be comparing petrol or electricity with road? Nigerians are aware that petrol is significant to them just as electricity. It will amount to economic catastrophe if we remove subsidy from petrol and electricity simultaneously.

These two items are very critical in our national life. What will ultimately happen is that we may end up compounding the problems we planned to solve at the end if we deregulate these items simultaneously. Why is Mr. President in a hurry to fix all Nigeria’s problems within his first one year in office without looking at the negative impacts of some of his policies on vulnerable Nigerians? It’s unproductive and unsustainable to be running our economy on palliatives as prescribed by IMF and the World Bank.

Maybe electricity deregulation would have been understandable if it’s coming in two years from now. It’s expected that Nigerians would have been feeling the dividends of democracy as promised by President Tinubu.

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But now, we have increased the cost of domestic gas beyond the reach of the poor, we have removed subsidy from petrol and now deregulating electricity. All these are coming within less than one year of the administration of President Tinubu in a country where workers are being paid 30k.

In one of my articles in the past, I emphasized that there is hardly any country in the world where citizens don’t enjoy subsidy in one item or the other, especially the one they have comparative advantage.

In the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa and other industrialized countries, citizens enjoy different kinds of subsidies from power, food, Health, Agriculture and many more. In these countries, the governments subsidize power in particular to keep their factories running in order to guarantee employment and enhance productivity.

While the US is the home of capitalist economy in the world and has continued to subsidize power, it’s unthinkable that the news flying around now is that Nigeria has increased electricity by 300%, which is about the highest in the world.

We are amused that a country that is not ready to subsidize any public utility is committing a humongous N90 billion subsidy to religious pilgrimage to Mecca and Jerusalem. It’s also happening in a country where the minimum wage is just 30k.

In my view, if this decision is allowed to stay, it will amount to sheer insensitivity and a deliberate attempt to strangulate the lives of vulnerable Nigerians who are already on life support machine with obnoxious policy of the World Bank and IMF.

I also said earlier that vulnerable Nigerians are the ones bearing the brunt of executive recklessness. When Emefiele and other people approved $6.2m cash withdrawal from the CBN, in the face of cashless policy, it was a clear case of executive recklessness.

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When Ways and Means exceeded its mandatory limit of 5% of the national budget, it was best described as executive recklessness. If our executives are approving funds from public treasury, to sponsor certain individuals or groups of people on pilgrimage to Mecca or Jerusalem, it’s an open display of executive recklessness.

We are aware that religion is a private matters and individual should fund their trips to Jerusalem or Mecca if they so desired. A situation where the Federal government is funding pilgrimage to the tune of N90billon is a flagrant abuse of public office.

It’s a great absurdity carried too far in the face of competing public needs that the government is unable to fund but prefers to filter away public resources in the name of religion.

The policy on students’ loans is laudable, but there is palpable fear that the loan will be accessible by real student seeking loan and not some ghosts or masquerades brought forward by the powers and principalities in government as students.

. Mr. President, we thank you for your passion and love for this country, but we are constrained to ask why none of your policies has improved the social wellbeing of citizens, rather Nigerians are slipping deeper into poverty.

In my view, this is when to crash the prices of essential goods that are currently out of the reach of common man through deliberate policy. This idea of targeting high-end individuals, corporations, and manufacturers with the burden of new electricity tariffs will ultimately lead to an increase in prices of food items, which is currently put at 38/39%. Otunba Sola Olatunji, Chairman of Ikale Heritage Development Association, IHDA, writes from Lagos.…READ FULL ARTICLE

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