Its a new year folk, I like to wish those who have honored my little blog with their eyes a happy new year. I hope 2012 is great for you all.
For many Nigerians the year 2011 was not that good of a year, one might argue that Nigeria is currently in its darkest of times. The problems the country faces are gargantuan. In 2011, we voted in a president in what was described as a free and fair election. The level of unemployment in the country did not reduce. There was post election violence that claimed plenty of lives. The threat of the terrorist group boko haram grew as the year progressed. The conflict in Jos continued to rage on and off during the year. For the most part, there was no significant reduction in crime and armed robbery. Nigerians were still beset by poverty, bad roads, poor infrastructure and a government that seems not to care for its people. As the year came to a close, wages for government workers were either paid late or not paid at all. The year ended with Academic Staff of Universities embarking on a strike as well as the impending removal of fuel subsidy.
Of course, Nigerians being Nigerians we still thank God for the gift of life and seeing us into the new year. People have managed to pick the positive out of what might not have been the greatest of years but it is to be expected, happiest people on earth and whatnot.
We entered the new year with the removal of fuel subsidy, an increase in the price of fuel which people use for cars and generators in a country that is beset by inconsistent power supply (although during this holiday period, power has been pretty consistent but that is just holiday scam) and a poor transportation network meaning plenty people who can afford to, own and need cars to get around. The key thing is that an increase in the price of fuel has a domino effect on the economy, it will increase the price of transportation which will increase the price of food and will lead to more money being bled from the pockets of the average Nigerian without a commensurate increase in wages.
The most amazing thing about the fuel subsidy issue is that the government has done it despite the pleas of the Nigerian people. It has increased the price of fuel and seemingly dared the Nigerian people to do what they will. I wonder how we will respond. Of course, the government has the argument that the extra money from the removal of fuel subsidy will be used for development and help to prop up the economy. Sounds like an IMF line to me. We have a minister of economy that comes from the World Bank axis. The same dimwits that suggested the SAP (Structural Adjustment Program) of the late 80s which saw the purchasing power of the average Nigerian and their wealth considerably reduced. This is akin to the same kind of shock therapy economics Jeffrey Sachs is known for which failed in many countries. I smell conspiracy.
What will Nigerians do? My educated guess is this, we will bitch about it in the newspapers, TV stations, twitter and we will talk the hell out of it. We will analyze the issue and some of us will even be for the removal of fuel subsidy. We will debate, maybe even protest and walk the streets but in the end I predict that the fuel price wont go back to N65 a liter. Why? We have seen this time and again, the government will either listen to us or ignore us completely and a majority of people will continue to buy the fuel at the new price. If the government listens to the people, they will arrive at a compromise and reduce the price from N140 to maybe N80 or N100 and then the protests will die down. They will wait a year of two and increase the price to N 160. We will protest and argue and they will compromise with us and bring it down to N140. So you see, even if the price does not stay at N140 now, it will eventually get there.
This is not to say that we should not protest. If anything, I believe a complete shut down of the nations economy is in order until the government complies with the people’s wishes. I am talking NLC, civil servants, private workers and teachers and no we are not talking halfhearted protests. We are talking millions and millions of people matching to ASO rock, damning the consequences and blocking the entrance until they are heard and met by the president. In the past, many of the protests have been very civil and gentlemanly. That wont work in this nation. If anything even the uniform officers should join the people in protest. The government has dared the people and it my sincere belief that the people should respond in kind.
2012 has started, will this be the year when the Nigerian activist actually achieves something besides talking with both sides of his/her mouth? Will this be the year that we stop the menace of Boko Haram? (Boko Haram, a topic for later). Only time will tell.
Nigerian Leaders beware, this could happen to you: