The street is not smiling

Lekan Sote

It’s not too apparent that Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is aware that “igboro o r’erin” – the street is not smiling. That is how the “s’oro s’oke” generation, who conducted the highly successful #EndSARS protest of October 2020 and its equally successful one year anniversary in October 2021, will put it.

Aides, like Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, who described the, albeit unofficially, released report of the Justice Doris Okuwobi-led Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu into the October 2020 shootings at Lekki Tollgate, in disparaging terms, are probably responsible for separating the president from reality.

The following are the inelegant words Mohammed used in describing the panel’s report: “Errors, inconsistencies, discrepancies, innuendos, omissions and conclusions that are not supported by evidence,” fake news and tales by moonlight.

The body language of President Buhari appears to be that of a leader who is neither aware nor cares that the electorate, who voted him as their president, are suffering under the weight of his presidency.

He seems to intervene only when his ministers and aides squabble over issues such as how juicy contracts on ship tracking are awarded among themselves, their relatives and friends, to the utter neglect of the duties they were appointed to discharge.

To describe the president’s aloofness, his nemesis, Reno Omokri, a former Special Assistant on Social Media to former President Goodluck Jonathan, says: “They live on Mars and think N5,000 (the red herring transportation grant) can solve all the problems.”

This was after the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, hinted that the Federal Government had approved NNPC’s intention to raise the price of petrol by more than 100 per cent, from N165.50 to a whopping N340 per litre.

Omokri had argued that “when the pump price of petrol rises to N340 (per litre), salaries or wages will be worthless, landlords will increase rent, the schools will increase tuition and parents must pay, (and) food prices, transport, water and electricity bills will jerk up.”

READ ALSO:  Over 500 maize farmers receive N89m CBN farm inputs in Anambra

He lapsed into histrionics though when he suggested that Nigerians would send Buhari to exile if the pump price of petrol is hiked, just as the National Association of Nigerian Students promised to shut Nigeria down if the fuel price goes up.

But everyone knows that Nigerians have become so poverty-stricken that they have no stomach to fight anymore; they will not #OccupyAnywhere as they did when Jonathan increased the pump price of petrol on January 1st, 2011.

President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Aliyu Wabaa, who should lead workers’ protest looks weary and now settles for mere rhetoric to protest the looming disaster that will befall Nigerians. He leaned on the words of the World Bank that recently declared that seven million Nigerians crossed into poverty.

As expected, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria have endorsed the increase in petrol prices. Like taxation and death, petrol, a staple, cannot be avoided.

You may have observed that the N30,000 minimum wage (that the Buhari government accepted on behalf of itself and state governments that were not consulted) has never been paid by most of the governments in Nigeria.

Significant change in either, or both, the foreign exchange rate and the price of petroleum products, especially petrol, is magnified in an even more significant dimension on the import-oriented consumer economy of Nigeria.

No one needs figures from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, Purchase Managers Index or even Consumer Price Index to know that inflation is threatening to reduce Nigerians to abject poverty. Right now, government policies are eliminating the middle class instead of taking the 100 million, promised by Mai Gaskiya Buhari, into prosperity.

As the NBS recently admitted that most Nigerians live below $1 a day, all you need to know to confirm that inflation is running on all fours is to pay attention to the depreciation of the naira against hard currencies, especially the US dollar, as the Central Bank of Nigeria watches helplessly.

READ ALSO:  Override Buhari's veto or delete areas of complaints -PDP govs to NASS

In 2020, it was N358.81 to one US dollar on the official window, and much higher on the parallel market. By November 25, 2021, the naira had depreciated to N413.58 on the official window and N558 on the parallel market.

The efforts of CBN yielded no results because the Federal Government has no complementary macroeconomic policies. This is a regrettable phenomenon if you will pardon the use of grandiloquence to describe an existential tragedy in this year of our Lord, 2021.

Canned Sardine fish that started 2021 at N300 per can is now going for N700; a crate of 30 eggs that sold at N900 early in the year now sells for N2000; both spaghetti and macaroni that went for N200 in January 2021 are now sold at N350. Also, the price of a 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas has leapt from N3,500 in January to N10,200 in November 2021.

You may have heard of the doublespeak of NBS (after the exit of saintly Dr. Yemi Kale) which goes thus: Though inflation rate is accelerating, the speed (or rate) is not as fast as it had been in previous years. Patrick Obahiagbon, the man with a vast inventory of grandiloquence, would have said that “inflation is accelerating by decelerating!”

After failing to pay judicious notice to the tyranny of inflation on Nigerians, all the Federal Government could do was to announce the removal of fuel subsidy, whose impact no one had really ever felt, and a harebrained N5,000 freebie to a group they described as “poorest Nigerians.”

Taciturn Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, recently found her voice to announce the N5,000 monthly transportation grant for between 20 and 40 million poorest Nigerians to cushion the effect of the proposed removal of fuel subsidy.

READ ALSO:  Powering Nigeria’s Digital Literacy Journey, By Inyene Ibanga

She adds that this grant should last between 6 to 12 months when it starts next year as if that will bring any significant improvement in the lives of the people who will bear the brunt of the removal of subsidy.

NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria have pointed out that there are no provisions for the transportation grant in the 2022 Budget Proposal that Buhari presented to the National Assembly.

Ahmed also informed those to whom it may concern that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product is currently growing at 3.3 per cent, whereas the population growth rate is lagging behind at 3.2 per cent. She is hoping that the government will be able to sustain or even push the GDP growth rate far above that of the population. Not on your life!

To be sure, apart from paying this wrongheaded “palliative” to party stalwarts only, a large chunk of the grant may be corruptly diverted, like the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme or SURE-P. Never mind the intention to transfer the grant online. Most of the recipients cannot afford to buy data and have no bank accounts.

Rather than fire Kyari and everyone in the moribund NNPC, so they can look for jobs elsewhere to support their lavish lifestyle and auction off the drainpipe refineries, the Federal Government retains them to continue to feed fat without delivering expected services.

President Buhari, the preferred playbook is to run domestic oil refineries for Nigerians, not dole out insulting N5,000 to unknown civilians.

The street is not smiling

News Source


Tech Solutions with THE DGIT:

Build Your Websites and Mobile Apps

%d bloggers like this: