BY LANRE OGUNDIPE
Barely two weeks after the inauguration of Nigeria’s new leader, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are signs of strong determination to turn the tide of national development beginning to emerge. I hope it’s for real. To call off the bluff of some power blocs by insisting on the removal of fuel subsidy, is a step in the right direction.
The clamour for retention of the subsidy, which over time has not significantly impacted the life of ordinary Nigerians, interrogates what interest the power blocs were protecting. What do we make of the NNPC’s surreptitious 100% funding of an individual’s project in the oil sector? Why was an ex-Minister of State, Petroleum, queried and subsequently ‘spill the beans’ on who and who got the $25 billion contract, after he returned from vacation? Can we further ask why the office of the Group Managing Director was wrested from his control followed by forced resignation as Minister of State, Petroleum? The role played by the Ministry of Finance in all this should be of interest. One only needs to call for relevant files and see the havoc wrecked on the poor citizens of this country, due to the sheer greed of some highly placed Nigerians.
It is important to observe at this point, that those used to living fat on subsidy grants at the detriment of ordinary citizens, would not sit back without pulling strings. Check the records in Warri and Kaduna Refineries.
Find out who was given an exclusive right to lift Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) in the past several years. At a time, Kaduna Refinery was so exclusive to an individual and his company that no other marketer was allowed to load fuel. They were all referred to the Port Harcourt Refinery.
The grim situation of the Nigerian oil sector should compel Mr. President to not only sustain the subsidy removal, but to set a new template for oil governance and statecraft as a whole.
“The Federal Government and labour should ensure that citizens’ interest undergirds whatever measures are being proposed”
He should ensure that the cabal sustained by previous administrations in the downstream sector of oil and gas, is permanently crushed and dismantled.
This would definitely impact the economy of the nation, by checkmating capital flight, encouraging forex inflows and creating more liberalised business environments.
Interestingly, the wings of the labour movement have been clipped by tactical engagement. The flight was shot down before it took off. This is an indication that labour’s agitation has been freed from sentiments, to give room for robust discourse between government, the governed and other stakeholders. This further underscores the need to synchronize issues where necessary, devoid of unnecessary politics. Hence, the Federal Government and labour should ensure that citizens’ interest undergirds whatever measures are being proposed. Beyond palliatives, policies and projects must be formulated and executed in a manner that would shield ordinary Nigerians from the inclement weather of poverty and wretchedness they have been subjected to, over the years.
For the Tinubu administration to secure the confidence of the generality of Nigerians he must live up to his words – “I have what it takes to lead the country out of the doldrums”.
The statement should not be relegated to an empty promise; rather it should be treated as sacrosanct. Remember, this is the chance you had always craved for and Nigerians have generously invested their trust in you. Therefore, they expect you to give them quality leadership and lead by example. Mr. President, this is your chance to salvage whatever is left of your generation and safeguard future generations. Would you make or mar this chance?
A prism goes thus, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Going forward, Mr. President, l don’t think you should ignore the submission of the 2014 National Conference. Its recommendations offer recipes for the rebuilding of our nation. Kindly find a place in your heart and dust up these documents. Its presentations would help your government forge a new direction for our dear nation and launch us into the long anticipated rebirth of our country: a well-structured nation, an egalitarian society where peace and justice shall reign. Politics should be laid to rest for now. We should embrace the message of the anthem of Ogun State which states: “Ise ya! Ise ya, Ise ya, Omo Ogun, Ise ya, Ise po fun wa lati se…” which literally means-“much work is on ground and afoot for citizens to labour on”. No time wasting, no lazing around…
This clarion call accords with the Nigerian spirit of ‘Can–Do’. Worldwide, Nigerians are known to be hardworking, creative, energetic and enterprising. We require a leadership that would lead honestly and galvanize the potentials towards building a nation we can all be proud of. Mr. Tinubu, our national epithet “good people, great nation” could be achieved if we are committed to it. The crusade against the wholesale decimation and dismantling of corruption in Nigeria is a task that must be done.
However, charity begins at home. Mr. President, please put a stop to the unfolding charade of your ward – the so-called first daughter- parading herself as Iyaloja of the Federation. Tolerating her excesses would send a bad signal that government business under you is a family patrimony and that corruption will continue to thrive under your watch. What comes next would be the first son of Nigeria and all the patronage that goes with it. We are all watching. The tolerance and patience of Nigerians should not be taken for granted. It’s time for serious work.
.Ogundipe was a former National President of Nigeria Union of Journalists.