Two key topics competed for attention today. The first was “Judiciary as co-conspirator.” The crux would have been their conspiratorial participation in the ruination of the country. The Judiciary moved developments elsewhere but our experience simply appears to be a different ballgame all together. They take two progressive steps forward and then nine retrogressive ones. Currently they are helping to muddle things. It could be worse. 

   The other is the one you are reading right now. It is not an entirely new topic we must say, in fact this page has been on it for about three weeks running, from different perspectives and angles. Last week we had to pause and wonder if our leaders know the degree of harm they push into the system, when they out of desperation, narrow interest and poor judgment, they go all out to subvert well laid out due processes. Our conclusion last week was that they don›t know what they do. If truly they had the ability to to comprehend the negative fallouts of their unreasonable actions, they would as well have had far better capacity to think out and visualize far greater options that would make for progressive development than we see them do.

   The consequences of their limited knowledge and the aberrations that flow from it have become too costly to the point it should begin to deserve close attention all the time, deep scrutiny and an elaborate treatment on every public space available. This is the exact reason you are having to read the topic you today. Before we roll it is important to bring this point out: three issues which would be mentioned shortly have combined to make our lives difficult to live. 

   Those matters are fuel scarcity, epileptic electricity supply and  naira redesign policy of the incumbent federal government. The position of the federal government on these areas of very essential needs leaves much to be desire. It has been a case of no clear idea on what to do. In other instances staggering from one policy inconsistency to outright surrender to helplessness. The Muhammadu Buhari administration rode into power with the promise, among others, to end once for all the controversy surrounding the supply of petrol, especially as it relates to frequent fluctuations in the pricing. They pledged to build refineries to stop fuel importation and by so doing have a handle on pricing. We picked two things from them regular petrol supply and cheap product pricing. 

    In nearly eight years, all evils surrounding the products have not abated, the problem has rather grown worse. Refineries that were hitherto operating at very low levels have now closed shop regrettably, after our government had parted with huge sums of public funds. Now, we can›t have our money and the refineries have become unfunctional. The administration finds it very difficult to speak to the people on the matter. See what should matter really is that petroleum products are still being imported at extreme high cost and sold in virtually everywhere across the country on international prices. Buhari called subsidy paid on petroleum a fraud, yet his government has expended far more on the subject matter than all the previous governments did. The amusing thing should be that subsidy on petrol procurement has gone very high yet the product is still very difficult to come by. The people are groaning. 

    As it is today not many can afford the cost for the purchase. I believe know what this means in terms of huge economic dislocations and its effect on the running of small of scale businesses. Where these enterprises manage to stay afloat, they do so on account of job losses and low returns talking about profit margins. The indignity attached to getting petrol when it is available is a story that shouldn›t be told in high places. It is an account of inhumanity which a government brings to bear on the lives of her people. It is a story not what telling but it is a story we must tell if things must change for good. 

   If you have a vehicle you have to pack and go looking for the fuel attendant with the POS machine. A long queue is the first thing that welcomes you. Next would be the very poor job attitude of the attendant. There is the blood of tyrannism in every Nigerian, what most haven’t had is opportunity. Most buyers get frustrated at this point. It is either the machines suddenly trip off or the digital platforms are non-functional. Even when one gets through this huddle it is no guarantee you will buy the product on time. The whole scene is often chaotic. This is where we are now.

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    The electricity issue is a different matter on its own. Erratic power supply has not only continued, it has gotten worst. It has gone from once in a while supply to a state of uncertainty. The heat generated from this is raging, yet the government has no word for the people. It is very wicked to increase electricity tariffs without notice to consumers as is the vogue currently. Government ambivalence on such an important matter has added to the people’s woes. On a scale of good public policy current government programs on power whatever it is won’t score high at all if it gets to have scores at all. The question of privatization of the sector is a matter for another day.

    The currency redesign program has turned full circle. Nothing brings out the misstep like the policy summersaults that have come from the federal government on the matter. They set a process not thoroughly and fully implemented; they turnaround leaving with it more hardship. It is a good policy no doubt but was introduced at a very wrong time. Whoever advised the President to take the issue on close to a national election didn’t do him any good at all.

      What is more, the operational method is cruel. Some of us in the critical audience have made this point before, it is worth restating again and again because it is so vital to proper development of our space. It is pure witchcraft for a government to enunciate a programme and then pursue execution in a manner that leads to increased hardship on the citizens and residents. The currency redesign programme hasn’t been efficiently implemented. It has been carried out in way that hurts rather ease pains. We have been told the exercise is part of the Federal Government’s anti-corruption war.

    Fine, but the big question would then be why not produce and release enough new notes so that scarcity does not happen, as it has added to the misery in the land. Each day the response from the banks remain same they have no new or old notes to give out even with conflicting directives from government and the Central Bank to the banks to pay out money to the public. A good government policy is the one that is backed with power of immediate and right response from implementing agencies. The Central Bank and the banks have been bad agencies. 

   If government meant business as observed earlier, the new notes would be printed in enough quantities. The bank Automated Teller Machines (ATM) would be frequently packed with money to meet the daily needs of bank customers. The digital platforms won›t offer epileptic SERVICES that we experience currently. Isn›t it ironic that the government and its officials desire a digital banking age but banks internet services barely work and nobody finds reason to explain why.

    On the surface it would seem things are normal but deep down they are not. People are dying from hunger and starvation. Illnesses are taking away lives so easily because sick people can›t see money when they need them to pay for emergency services. They can›t pick the cash when they need them neither can they effect electronic transactions with  ease and get confirmations immediately, yet government is busy ramming down the throat of citizens an ill conceived national policy on electronic transactions. The Supreme Court has given a position many consider very right in the circumstance but the federal government attitude points to a resolve to keep punishing the people. 

      People are suffocating and dying across the country, this is nothing but the truth. Life and living in most families is in disarray. So citizens are wallowing under excruciating psychological trauma, a state of disoriention is growing. The other day in a part of one of our cities three young persons  all male and an elderly lady paid unscheduled visits to different families to beg for food. They said they couldn’t lay hands on cash not that some of them hadn’t money, they had but couldn’t part with any as commission often demanded by shylocks money exchangers . Life has indeed become very nasty and brutish. The grand appeal is: President Buhari loose us and set us free.