We are definitely in a season of ‘big grammar’. A few days after Governor Adams Oshiomhole sent out his ‘iconoclastic’ condolence letter, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, dropped his ‘fantastically corrupt’ bombshell. And just as we were dissecting the connotations and denotations of that grammatical construct, Ibe Kachikwu sneaked his ‘modulation’ into the fray.
None of them succeeded in saying exactly what he meant.
However, I must begin today’s serving by appreciating President Muhammadu Buhari. He made me so very proud with his outing at the anti-corruption conference in London last week.
Like many Nigerians, I had expected him to come out with blazing eyes and smoking nostrils over the ‘fantastically corrupt’ slip of the British Prime Minister David Cameron. But PMB chose to teach all of us, including Cameron, a few lessons in maturity, statesmanship and the cheekiest kind of wit you can ever get. His response to the question of whether he would seek to extract an apology from his British counterpart of the undeniable deriding of Nigeria, for me, was straight out of the top-drawer. I’m not going to demand any apology. All I will demand is return of assets. What would I do with apology? I need something tangible, PMB had said. It sounded more like what the proverbial Igbo man (of comedians’ world) would say: “You can insult me, but just give me my money after”.
PMB did not have to make any verbose defence of Nigeria, or remind Cameron that Britain and the West were as corrupt as (if not more corrupt than) Nigeria, by receiving and safekeeping all the monies looted from Nigeria.
Surely, hearing Buhari give that short but loaded answer (seemingly off the cuff) at such an international forum made every Nigerian feel proud.
But then, trust the Nigerian government to ensure we didn’t stay happy for too long. It soon brought us down from the mountaintop of happiness to the valley of despair, as Kachikwu announced a hike in the pump price of petrol from N86.50 to N145, instantly.
Now, I won’t fall into the temptation of comparing the situation on ground today to what transpired in 2012 under Goodluck Jonathan’s watch, except to say that Nigerians have since pitch there tents – some, for the hike, others, against it. And there have been very convincing and confusing arguments from both sides.
My other observation is that the more the proponents of today’s hike try to differentiate it from the aborted hike under Jonathan, the more they bring out the similarities. It’s like that classical saying that the more things change, the more they seem to remain the same.
For me, the facts have remained unchanged. The script and narrative have remained the same. What has probably changed between 2012 and now are the demagogues.
So, I have since come to one conclusion: when people oppose certain policies, its not always because the policy is bad, it could be because the wrong person is advocating the right policy.
Now, after futilely trying to convince us that what we have now is different from what Jonathan proposed, they have now turned round to say that the opposition in 2012 was because Jonathan and his gang could not be trusted not to loot whatever extra accruals may come therefrom. Of course they’re not saying anything about the fact unlike the Jonathan effort, which came along with some palliatives, there are no such palliatives this time around.
This probably explains why some people are now suggesting that we apologise to Jonathan over our actions in 2012. But I won’t subscribe to that. Never! In fact, if we owe any apology at all, it is to Buhari and the APC. We should apologise to them for our setting our expectations too high.
We should apologise to them for our not understanding that their commitment to deregulation as a total abdication of government responsibilities – on power supply, fuel and other infrastructures. We should apologise to them for our thinking that the clarion call flush out Boko Haram and secure the country actually meant transferring terror from the North East to the North Central and the South – and dispatching insurgent ‘herdsmen’ to places where Boko Haram could not reach. Yes, the same herdsmen who are not Nigerians, but who cross the borders in the North East and North West, trek hundreds of kilometres to the South East and South West to go kill farmers, and escape back to their country without been spotted by our security agencies. Yet the security agencies are 100% sure that the ‘herdsmen’ are not Nigerians. Only God knows how we arrived at that conclusion!
We should apologise to Buhari and APC for our naivety in not knowing that there is no way APC can be in power and be hunting down corrupt APC chieftains (except those who challenge the establishment). We should also apologise for our stupidity in not knowing that it is only in PDP we have corrupt politicians.
We have to apologise for not knowing that revamping our economy is not necessarily about diversifying our mono-crop economy, but more about jacking up the price of everything – including those things which should ordinarily be provided for the citizenry at little or no cost, and which form the basis for the existence of any government.
Shouldn’t we also apologize to our new government for not discerning that its promise of total freedom was for ‘hailers’, and not ‘wailers’?
Back to the new fuel price! The talk about modulation and freedom to import products is neither here nor there. These people just take advantage of the fact that we all did not attend Harvard Oxbridge to bamboozle us. What are they modulating? Is it not just smart way to avoid using the words ‘subsidy removal’ and ‘price hike’?
And now that they have modulated it to N115 and N145, have the marketers not since re-modulated the thing to N150 and above? Nonsense! And the Diesel, which Kachikwu did not modulate, have the marketers not taken it upon themselves to modulate diesel to N150 and N160? What are you modulating, when Dollar is high, and set to rise even higher?
If you don’t give the importer forex, or tankers or silos or pay him bridging cost, or procure the products and resell to him at a controlled price, what manner of motorpark economics makes you believe that you can control the price at which he retails the products? Mtcheew!
I suspect Kachikwu and APC just needed to generate a lot of high-sounding nothing to justify the decision of government to abdicate yet another responsibility.
They’re just trashing around to find more believable lies to justify the continuation of the supreme fraud we’ve come to accept as oil business in Nigeria. It is a cunning way of avoiding to take action on the subsidy cabal, even while we continue to blame Jonathan and the PDP for the fraud. We forget that it was the same Jonathan and the PDP (spearheaded by a certain Sen. Bukola Saraki) that first threw the searchlight on the subsidy scam – and actually began its investigation.
By diverting our attention to fuel importation and a new pricing regime, the APC government has cleverly shifted attention away from the refineries and sustained the fallacy that we consume more fuel than our refineries are capable of refining. The lucre of the business of oil seems too tempting for the new government to resist. So, it is now looking for fresh narratives to roll over the profitable iniquities of the past into the present. And then, they rush to court to stop us protesting against this murder.
But this does not, however, mean that I would join (dis)organized labour to occupy anywhere any time soon.
My reason is simple: every honest worker today has to beg to be able to feed, everyday. So, if you occupy anywhere and shut down the country, he would not even be able to get out to go and beg. He and his dependants would starve to death.
The labour leaders are even unaware of the predicament of their members. They, for instance, directed that we go stockpile foodstuffs at home in readiness for a long-drawn strike, without answering the basic questions: How many workers have enough to feed for today, let alone stockpile for several days? So, where will we get the money to stockpile foodstuffs? When last were the workers in Oyo, Osun, Delta, Imo, Benue etc paid their salary?
So, rather than put our hopes in the labour leaders, and obviously partisan rights activists, I think we should just appeal directly to our oppressors – to the conscience of our president and his kitchen cabinet, to have mercy on us. We know we were stupid to have substituted those who chastised us with whips for those who’ll chastise us with scorpions. Have mercy on us for our over-ambitious expectations from government, and we promise not to remember this little misunderstanding in 2019 – no matter how much the PDP tries to make us remember.