The state of the nation is indeed very worrisome. The government instead of doing internal housekeeping that will drastically reduce cost of governance and the burden on Nigerians choose to transfer the payment for its ineffectiveness and inefficiency to Nigerians. It is unfortunate that the people in government “because they are involved” do not have the moral courage to do the drastic housekeeping required to trim the three tiers and three arms of government to reduce inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of government.
The measures listed by the President in his speech yesterday are nowhere near what is required to reduce the cost of governance. Cuts should not only be made in the basic salary of political appointees but in their numbers and all the allowances and privileges. I believe strongly that government should start by deregulation itself through cutting down the number of MDAs, political appointments, doing away with one of the legislative arm at the federal level, reducing the number of personal advisers and assistants of political office holders, other aids, allowances, entourage etc.
They should also deregulate the anti-graft agencies to enable them to arrest anyone involved in corruption instead of using the anti-graft agencies for witch hunting as they are currently doing. Government is yet to take the drastic measures to stop wasting gas which could be put to better use to generate income instead it chose the option of transferring the subsidy to poor Nigerians.
The President commissioned 1,100 mass transit vehicles today; one would ask what happened to such measures taken in the past. Those of us in Abuja and Lagos have seen series of such government driven mass transit ventures like the “El Rufai” vehicles a few years ago, which have all virtually been grounded now. After a couple of years where will these vehicles be? Indeed how many locations in the country will get the vehicles outside of Abuja and Lagos?
The government still has two months and a half to implement the 2011 budget and should use that period to demonstrate to Nigerians their seriousness to rescue the economy. If indeed the country is as broke as the Wold Bank led finance team is telling us - which may well be true, then what is required is more than just removal of fuel subsidy.
Government should immediately arrest corruption in all its forms, cut down on the size of government and attending allowances and privileges before transferring the burden of maintaining their extravagant cost on Nigerians through removal of fuel subsidy. Such extravagancy included flying 180 people to Australia for a Commonwealth meeting last year and today taking two airplanes to South Africa to celebrate 100 years of ANC while bombs are going off in some parts of the country.
If the price of PMS in Nigeria makes it attractive to smugglers, why can’t the government secure the country’s borders? Why should we continue to retain the customs as an agency of government if they can’t do their jobs? The so called business cartel that are running the subsidy racket must be stooge of people in government for them to be beyond the reach of the anti-graft agencies. Evidence emerging from the public hearing that the National Assembly was holding before the break and in other circles show there is enough evidence to convict members of the cartel but they are still walking around while innocent Nigeria are being made to pay for their sins.
I got back to Abuja over the weekend and went to church this morning to find that half the pews were vacant as people stayed away due to threats of bombing of churches. We were made to park miles from the church and were scanned with metal detectors before we could go into the church. Before we left the church we were informed to lay down when we hear gunshots and look for the source before leaving the scene on all fours. Tears came to my eyes that this is the reality of our nation.
The security situation in Nigeria is alarming yet the government is not showing signs that it is doing enough to combat the threats apart from allocating 20% of the 2012 budget to security without accounting for previous allocations.
University students are home due to ASUU strike that no one is currently talking about. It is indeed a sad day in the country and we all pray and hope that government will see reasons to do the needful first instead of choosing the cheap and easy way out. If corruption is not checked and the size and cost of governance reduced, whatever gains of the fuel subsidy removal will also go down the drain.
Please keep safe and continue to pray that government will take measures to return reasonable security and safety in all parts of the country as we can’t afford to go into another civil war and end up like Sudan compounded with a harsh fuel regime that will make it impossible for fleeing families to run for safety if the security situation should worsen. As I write, people that travelled home for Christmas with N4, 000 are now being asked to pay N10, 000 – N15, 000 per person.
It is well.
Have a great year ahead and see you at the picket line!