Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

THE GAINS OF ENUGU’S INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT   Leave a comment

“The last known international flight out of South-Eastern Nigeria, prior to the Ethiopian Airlines flight [on August 24, 2013] was the one that took Ojukwu to Abidjan in 1970.” –Bryan Chaut ‏

On Saturday, August 24, the recently remodelled Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA), Enugu, received its first ever international commercial flight (Ethiopian Airlines), also a first for South-Eastern Nigeria. That single event therefore marked a cusp for the city and region! I commend the Jonathan administration for seeing this important project through.

Last year, I visited the city of Enugu twice and, with a good intra-city road network, an efficient cab service, and a booming business clime, I left with the impression that that city was ready for its next big thing. The international airport has come alive at just the right time to comprise such a big thing.

Indeed, Enugu State, the South-East and Nigeria as a whole stand to benefit a lot from AIIA. For one, the multiplier effects of AIIA will boost business and the service industry which will result in many jobs in that city and beyond.

Also, airlines pay charges to land planes at airports and, given its region-wide market, AIIA will bring in more foreign exchange into Nigeria which will be a plus for Nigeria’s economy.

In addition, planes often refuel at international airports and this will create another significant market for fuel in that part of the country. In fact, this is one more reason why we need fully functional refineries so as to maximise the gains from our crude oil considering given that foreign demand for it is falling.

Furthermore, Enugu’s international airport will boost investment and jobs. More investors will be attracted to the South-East region in general and Enugu in particular, especially with its huge potential in coal, because of increased accessibility occasioned by AIIA whilst businesses and banks will open outlets close to or at the airport and this will create more jobs. It was an appreciation of this fact that must have prompted President Jonathan to declare: “The South East Region of Nigeria, with this international airport, can confidently say to the world ‘we are open for business!”

Again, thanks to the international airport in Enugu, and the lucrativeness of its regional appeal, various airlines will certainly operate direct flights from different locations in Africa and beyond, to the city. Eventually, this will result in lower flight costs to Enugu and thus encourage more sons and daughters of Enugu and its environs to travel home more frequently.

We must equally note that AIIA is the first major Federal Government project completed in South-Eastern Nigeria for a long time. The implication of this is that it will help to quell the feelings of marginalisation which many South-Easterners still have and thereby boost national cohesion. In a statement following the landing of the Ethiopian Airlines flight in Enugu, Joe Obi, the special adviser to the Minister of Aviation on media said: “This historic international flight, perhaps the first since after the Civil War, is both symbolic and revolutionary. It symbolizes the end of an era where an entire region was almost shut out from the rest of the world, literally speaking, to one where the same enclave is now open to a new and exciting world of endless possibilities.”

Nonetheless, what can go wrong? As is often the case in Nigeria, mismanagement and poor maintenance will turn any good project into decrepit and relics into derelicts! This must not be allowed to happen to AIIA. A National Mirror September 21, 2012 editorial lamented “Nigeria’s nagging problem of decrepit airport infrastructure” and said: “Even at the flagship Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, local carriers manage only one runway due to the woeful failure of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to fix runway lighting on the second one.” As AIIA gathers steam, stakeholders must ensure that its infrastructure remains in good condition and regularly undertake maintenance and upgrades where necessary. Ultimately, AIIA itself should be able to generate enough revenue to guarantee its sustainable upkeep.

Another problem that AIIA should have provisions to forestall from scratch is that of power cuts. Earlier this year, a couple of incidents were reported with near-tragic landings caused by power cuts at MMIA but also at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. In the case of MMIA, it was reported that the two generators serving the airport were in disrepair. Local stakeholders must not wait on the federal authorities to provide a stable source of power for AIIA. They should proactively explore alternative sources that guarantee uninterrupted power for the airport. As earlier stated, Enugu has great quantities of coal and, on August 19, President Jonathan said his administration plans to generate over 30 per cent of Nigeria’s electricity from the fossil fuel. Local stakeholders can thus leverage this plan to ensure that AIIA is powered by an alternative source like coal so as to guarantee that it doesn’t experience power cuts.

Meantime, there were reports that some landowners threatened to stop business endeavours at AIIA because they are still owed compensation by FAAN after their land was co-opted by the Federal Government in 2009 to expand the Enugu airport into its present status. This must be nipped in the bud so that AIIA can be off to a smooth, flying, start.

Long live the Akanu Ibiam International Airport! GOD bless Nigeria!

@StatisticsNG: NIGERIA’S NOVEL DEVELOPMENT STATS PLATFORM   2 comments

As Nigerian citizens strive to get more involved in the country’s governance process, forward-thinking individuals and organisations are beginning to harness social media and especially Twitter to create platforms that garner and provide the information they need to shape the country’s development discourse and articulate their aspirations. One such new platform is the @StatisticsNG initiative, which has backward and forward linkages and bearings on the @PolicyNG endeavour (which I wrote about here: https://raymondeyo.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/policyng-a-repository-for-nigerias-policy-discourse/), as its stated objective, to “chart up development statistics” to support to latter, says.

Mariéme Jamme (@mjamme), the founder and chief executive of SpotOne Global Solutions, who featured in howwemadeitinafrica.com’s recent listing of “ten African business leaders and thinkers to follow on Twitter”, says: “Data and accurate stats are key to Africa’s development.”

Also, whilst decrying the lapses of the 2006 census exercise at a media function on August 5, 2013, Festus Odimegwu, the chairman of Nigeria’s Population Commission, said: “We must make Nigeria work. We cannot do that unless we know the statistics. We cannot build infrastructure without data. We must have organised data before we can plan.”

Similarly, the prominent pan-African magazine, New African, reported in its January 2013 issue that “Dr Carlos Lopes (@ECA_Lopes), the [recently appointed] Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA, @ECA_Official) wants the [institution] to be at the forefront of providing the data and in-depth research that can lead to better decision-making and policy direction. That means providing accurate statistics, something that has been notably lacking in Africa for many years.” Dr Lopes himself was quoted in that report as saying “How can you devise policy based on unrealistic data and projections? This ‘statistical gap’ has a clear [negative] economic impact.”

In suggesting the way forward for the garnering of accurate statistics in Africa, New African again said: “Dr Lopes believes the capture of better economic statistics should be done using modern technologies.” Thankfully, as an IT-compliant platform, it is expected that @StatisticsNG would not be found wanting in this important respect.

It must be understood that the role of data and statistics in development is so crucial that it should not be left in the hands of government agencies, like the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) or the Ministry of National Planning, alone. The increasing contribution of private entities to critical aspects of governance, via Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements, for instance, cannot be gainsaid. Therefore, the @StatisticsNG initiative is a plausible one which should be encouraged and patronized especially by Nigeria’s development stakeholders.

In addition, the timing of the coming on board of @StatisticsNG couldn’t be more apposite! This is because the initiative has been born at a time when there is serious talk and increasing focus on a Nigeria beyond oil which implies paying very close attention to other hugely important sectors such as agriculture, industries, solid minerals and tourism and these are sectors that cannot be maximised without sufficient and accurate data and statistics.

Some Nigerians worry that the country’s leaders don’t do effective planning and as such, naively conclude that investing effort and resources on producing quality data and statistics may not be very useful. In fact, I had a recent tweet-chat with one John Kwaghngu (@DoshimaJohn) and he said: “Planning is alien to us. So tell me how statistics matters to such a nation.” This is wrong! Even if Nigeria’s present leaders don’t plan effectively, that doesn’t take anything away from the usefulness of such data and statistics. In fact, even if our leaders don’t fully value and/or use development data and stats, investors and potential investors use them to determine and plan their investment. Besides, stats and data are very useful for academic research purposes and they will also help to furnish future leaders with the knowledge they need to make smart and sound policy choices and decisions.

That a major institution like the World Bank’s Africa office (@WorldBankAfrica) follows its work on Twitter is an indication that @StatisticsNG is already striking the right chords and attracting important stakeholder attention.

Ultimately, @StatisticsNG will have to go beyond Twitter and social media to doing effective work on the field and putting its findings in the public domain. In the above regard, I suggest that @StatisticsNG undertakes a partnership with an institution like UNECA especially given that its Executive Secretary, Carlos Lopes, is passionate about improving data collection on the continent. Indeed, Lopes says “I would like UNECA to be the innovator in introducing mobile technology for data collection [in Africa].” @StatisticsNG will do well to leverage such a partnership to better improve its technical capacity on the field in order to boost efficiency.

As a postgraduate student of Development Studies and one with great interest and aspirations in public policy formulation and execution, who certainly understands the great value of statistics in the same, I enthusiastically welcome the bold initiative that @StatisticsNG is, and look forward to learning so much through it.

It takes wisdom and passion to create a platform like @StatisticsNG. It will take even more wisdom and greater passion to sustain it and ensure that it remains objective and credible. I wish the initiators and sponsors of the project very fruitful times ahead. Long live @StatisticsNG! GOD bless Nigeria!

Raymond is on Twitter at @Raymond_Eyo

MY TWEET-CHAT WITH PROF. SACHS, UN SG’s SPECIAL ADVISOR, ON THE FUEL SUBSIDY REMOVAL   2 comments

“‎I believe the [Nigerian] government didn’t prepare [the fuel subsidy removal policy] well… I support OccupyNigeria’s fight for clean and honest government.” –Prof. Jeff D. Sachs, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General

On January 6, 2012, Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper reported that the United Nations (UN) had commended President Jonathan for withdrawing the subsidy on petroleum products, describing it as “a bold and correct policy”.

Vanguard attributed that commendation to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser and renowned Economist, Professor Jeffrey Sachs.

So, when on January 8, 2012, Professor Jeffrey Sachs @JeffDSachs tweeted this: “Ghana on the move. Fast-growing & looking to solve poverty in dry north. Spent great day with villagers discussing health, [agric], and water!” I replied him, situating his reported support for the fuel subsidy removal in context as follows: “@JeffDSachs Ghana on the move…yet you come to Nigeria to endorse the President’s policy plan to worsen our poverty even more. How unfair!”

Feeling compelled, Prof. Sachs responded saying, “@Raymond_Eyo In Nigeria I worked with Gov to scale up fight against malaria & for maternal survival. Powerful ways to fight poverty!”

I reacted further: “@JeffDSachs Agreed, Sir, but removing the only welfare package that Nigerians get from gov’t in the midst of worsening poverty is unfair!”

On January 14, 2012, Prof. Sachs tweeted this in relation to a domestic issue in the United States: “More lies from Wall Street Journal. WSJ says Gov employment is soaring. Actually lower in 2011 than at the end of Reagan Admin in 1989.”

Again, I responded, making sure to contextualise his reported support for the fuel subsidy removal. I said: “@JeffDSachs Then you support the removal of our fuel subsidy in Nigeria so that our own unemployment will skyrocket even more. How sad!” Prof. Sachs didn’t reply.

Later in the day, Prof. Sachs again tweeted: “Please see my Huffington Post blog to find more details on how The Wall Street Journal misleads about gov employment.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/…”

I again replied, making my case against him thus: “@JeffDSachs And you, the IMF and the EU mislead the weak President Jonathan into removing our fuel subsidy and worsening our unemployment.”

This time around, Prof. Sachs responded saying, “@Raymond_Eyo Give it a break. I had NOTHING to do with this decision whatsoever, and believe that the gov didn’t prepare it well.”

It was obviously going to be a mini-debate so I took my turn and said: “@JeffDSachs But Sir, it was reported authoritatively that you, on the UN Scribe’s behalf, endorsed Jonathan’s subsidy removal policy.”

Prof. Sachs retorted: “@Raymond_Eyo First you wrote that I helped to create the policy. No! Second, you read a short press article, not an authoritative report.” “@Raymond_Eyo In both my original very brief statement to the press and in what I just wrote to you I’m not speaking for the UN.”

I certainly had to clarify him. I said: “@JeffDSachs By the way, Sir, I didn’t say an ‘authoritative report’. I said ‘it was reported authoritatively’, meaning by a trusted agency.” I added that, “@JeffDSachs Sir, that’s the impression you gave when it was reported in the press article that you commended Jonathan and you didn’t question it.”

Prof. Sachs replied saying, “@Raymond_Eyo Thanks for writing back to clarify. I didn’t give any such impression, but the press took it. You know how that goes!”

Prof. Sachs then stated this: “@Raymond_Eyo I support OccupyNigeria’s fight for clean and honest gov. Oil sub is wasteful though. Better ways to help poor.” He added: “@Raymond_Eyo I spoke one short sentence about a complex topic (alas). Since then, I’ve tried to elaborate in several ways.”

I responded: “@JeffDSachs Ok, Sir. Noted. I am very grateful for your time and your openness. I hope I can learn more from you in other circumstances.”

To that, he replied saying, “@Raymond_Eyo And I appreciate your approach to me. I am a fan of Nigeria’s civil society, and no friend of neoliberalism or corruption!”

I was impressed by Prof. Sachs’ pledge in favour of Nigeria’s civil society and against corruption so I replied, respectively, saying, “@JeffDSachs Thanks for being on the Nigerian people’s side, Sir. With honest men like you, mankind has a fair chance of beating the odds.” “@JeffDSachs That’s very good to know, Sir. Therefore, in you, we’ve got a trusted friend and partner. Together, we’ll rid Nigeria of graft!”

Broadening the scope of our discussion on Nigeria, Prof. Sachs disclosed this: “@Raymond_Eyo Some Nigerians were upset with me when I spoke of cautious optimism. But I am optimistic. Keep up ur efforts for good gov.”

To that, I said: “@JeffDSachs Absolutely, we will, Sir. Thanks. That must have been because cautious optimism hasn’t helped b4. Now, we’re actively involved.”

On a concluding note, I referred a question to Prof. Sachs that had been asked President Jonathan via twitter by prominent CNN anchor, Jim Clancy @clancycnn. Here’s the question: “If corrupt cartels and fuel importers are the problem, why not crack down on them?” I asked Prof. Sachs what he thought of it. His brief but poignant reply was thus: “@Raymond_Eyo I’ll learn more. Nigeria’s bigger issues, though, are: (1) to tax the rich; (2) invest honestly in health, edu, and infrastructure.”

Posted January 14, 2012 by Raymond Eyo in Economy

THE CONS OF THE FUEL SUBSIDY REMOVAL (2)   3 comments

On January 7, 2012, I wrote a piece on the above subject matter. Sequel to other developments on the same and in the light of more intriguing revelations, I thought it only proper to write this second part.

First and foremost, and to be realistic, ours is a fundamentally unequal society with very huge disparities between the rich and the poor. As such, there’s no how N1.3trillion even if efficiently utilised for infrastructure and other investments would, in the short or medium term, as President Jonathan says, benefit the majority poor. Such an argument is simply untenable. As always, it would benefit the rich so much more than it would the poor or even the middle class. Until such a time as when we can significantly curb corruption and drastically cut the size of government would we be able to see massive financial investments having tangible, transformational effects on our economy.

Secondly and interestingly, the fuel subsidy regime that the Jonathan administration has removed was provided for in the 2011 budget circle which is yet to come to an end. That budget circle is to end in March 2012 after which the 2012 budget, expected to have been passed by then, will go into operation. The question that then arises is why would the Jonathan government remove a subsidy that was provided for in the 2011 budget whilst that budget is still in operation? The alternative should have been to allow the budgetary circle to come to an end by March/April 2012 by which time the removal could have been effected. That makes sense as it would have allowed ample time for the government to undertake sufficient consultations as well as give the people some time to make spending and saving adjustments.

In addition, it surprises me lots that the Jonathan administration appears to be so bent on removing the fuel subsidy using the unconvincing argument of working to secure the future for Nigerians and posterity. The PDP-dominated political class in Nigeria has never been interested in securing the future of Nigeria so they shouldn’t pretend to only be now. After all, they had advanced the same arguments with the NEEDS initiative with hardly any substance to show for it finally. This fact only goes to emphasise that there’s more to the fuel subsidy removal than meets the eye!

Furthermore, if President Jonathan was so sincerely desirous of withdrawing the fuel subsidy just to release funds for development, rather than asking several millions of poor and struggling Nigerians to make sacrifices by pushing them into even more suffering, why can he not direct equal energy and commitment to remove the huge political ‘subsidy’ of the country’s stupidly large and inefficient bureaucracy consisting of just about 1% of the population? When it comes to removing the fuel subsidy that benefits the masses, it takes the Jonathan administration less than no time to do so, to the point of even undermining needed consultations whereas when it comes to cutting down on the cost of governance (removing the political ‘subsidy’), Jonathan tells us the trademark lies the government has become obsessed with. In his January 7, 2012 speech, Jonathan said, “we are taking several measures aimed at cutting the size and cost of governance, including on-going and continuous effort to reduce the size of our recurrent expenditure and increase capital spending…Government is also currently reviewing the number of committees, commissions and parastatals with overlapping responsibilities. The report on this will be submitted shortly and the recommendations will be promptly implemented.” We have had more than enough reports and reviews on cutting the size of government – a thing which doesn’t actually need any in the first place. Beyond that, if 72% of the 2012 appropriation bill is anything to go by; I can boldly tell Jonathan that his government is, in reality, taking no steps to reduce recurrent spending! Again, if N1bn can be allocated for food and refreshment alone for the presidency in 2012, this means Jonathan is so actually insincere in claiming to cut the size of governance.

Yet another pro-fuel subsidy removal argument I find so silly and indefensible is that which the government has been touting all over the place namely that Nigeria’s economy will crash in two years’ time if the subsidy is not removed now. The same fellows who are saying this are also saying that there’s data showing that Nigeria is presently one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In fact, even the EU envoy who visited Jonathan recently said most European countries envy Nigeria’s economy – especially given its favourable growth rate prospects. Now, here’s the big deal. It is a fact that the subsidy regime has been in place for many years. It is also a fact that Nigeria’s debt profile, though rising now, has been worse off before. If Nigeria’s economy did not crash when the going was rough and when growth prospects were very minimal, how come it would suddenly crash now when the prospects are present? Who is fooling who?

Again, is it not contradictory and ironical that the same fellows that comprise the oil cabal which the government says has misused the subsidy funds are members of the President’s economic management team? It is a known fact that someone like Femi Otedola whose company, Zenon Oil, was named as one of those misappropriating and misdirecting the subsidy funds, was a major funder of President Jonathan’s 2011 campaign. It therefore should come as no surprise why a normally malleable president appears so shamefully handicapped to bring to book such a very negligible number of persons sabotaging the country’s mainstay and rather seeks to punish the suffering masses for their wrongs – an act of cowardice from a president who, on September 18, 2010, had promised to tolerate “no sacred cows” in fighting corruption. Mind you, it is this kind of fiscal indiscipline by America’s greedy entrepreneurs, such as which Otedola represents, that led to the 2008 financial meltdown in that country.

Let me conclude by saying that the West has never been interested in the welfare of masses in the developing world, notwithstanding their pretence otherwise. Indeed, Western institutions and governments are particularly jittery now and ever more determined to get pliant states around the world capitulate to their often unsuspecting but eventually exploitative schemes given the changing balance of power in the world economy and their own attendant domestic crises. The very fact that in the past one month, the IMF Managing Director, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser and a special EU envoy have visited Jonathan, taking turns to commend him for the so-called ‘reforms’, smacks of a hidden but sinister Western agenda that Jonathan sadly cannot decipher. It was the first US President, George Washington, who declared in his presidential farewell address on September 17, 1796 that, “Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

Nigeria, this is the challenge now confronting us and the survival of our patrimony. But give in we won’t! We must remain vigilant, steadfast and resolute in our opposition to the removal of the fuel subsidy.

GOD bless Nigeria!

Posted January 11, 2012 by Raymond Eyo in Economy

THE CONS OF THE FUEL SUBSIDY REMOVAL   4 comments

“After 20 years of implementing [IMF and World Bank-initiated] structural adjustment programmes, our economies have remained weak and vulnerable and have not sufficiently transformed to sustain accelerated growth and development. Poverty has become widespread, unemployment very high, manufacturing and agriculture in decline; and our external and domestic debts much too heavy a burden to bear.” –Kwabena Bartels, Ghana’s former works and housing minister, May 2001

Let me begin by saying that for Nigeria’s very huge oil endowments, the Nigerian people do not deserve to pay the same price for petrol such as which obtains in the world market. For crying out loud, Nigeria is the 6th largest exporter of crude oil in the world and she actually has the capacity to refine her crude locally.

When President Jonathan announced in October 2011 that his administration planned to remove the N1.3trillion subsidy for fuel in January 2012, threatening that if he didn’t, Nigeria’s economy would crash in two years’ time, the first thing that struck me is if indeed Nigeria’s economy was going to crash in two years’ time, why didn’t the Yar’Adua administration (of which Jonathan was a key member) see the warning signs as early as in 2007 or 2008 given the nation’s growing debt profile at the time especially with the creation of the National Planning Commission? If they did, why did they have to wait till the last minute to undertake an extreme measure which further compounds the sorry plight of the masses? If they didn’t how come it took a Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (NOI) less than a month to make the finding? Mind you, NOI resumed work as Finance Minister with broader economic management powers on August 17, 2011 while she made the case for the removal of the fuel subsidy in two briefings to the cabinet between September 11 and September 17, 2011. Indeed, by October 14, 2011, Jonathan had already bought the idea and announced the removal of the subsidy for January 2012!

It is the controversy surrounding NOI’s widely-suspected IMF/World Bank backed-agenda that comprised prominent constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Fred Agbaje’s analysis that “One of the things the Finance Minister told them (Jonathan’s advisers) when she was coming to serve is that she must implement the IMF policy which is the removal of the oil subsidy. She said if you are not going to do it, I am not going to serve in your government and the Federal Government foolishly and sheepishly acceded.”

Indeed, the IMF Managing-Director, Christine Lagarde, did not help matters when, on a visit to President Jonathan on December 19, 2011 after meeting NOI, she endorsed the so-called reform programmes being pursued by his administration. Worse still, yesterday, January 6, 2012, the United Nations (UN) joined the chorus by commending President Jonathan for withdrawing the subsidy on petroleum products, describing it as “a bold and correct policy”. Speaking while visiting President Jonathan at the State House, the UN Scribe’s Special Adviser, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, claimed that the funds from the subsidy removal would go a long way to boost rapid infrastructural development and investments in the health sector. Similarly, following the subsidy removal, the European Union (EU) has said that it has confidence in Nigeria’s economy. Finnish Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomoija, disclosed this while speaking to President Jonathan during an audience at the State House yesterday as well.

Whereas President Jonathan can take confidence from these Western endorsements, it is actually the very fact of them that comprises a reason to suspect the idea behind the forceful and quick removal of the subsidy by many a discerning Nigerian. To put that in context, it remains a fact that the EU, whose economic growth prospects are as bleak, and the UN’s major financers are badly in need of better oil prices in the world market especially considering the latest round of sanctions on Iran’s oil. This is the main idea behind their quick approval and support for this very unpopular policy by the Jonathan administration.

Meantime and more importantly, the removal of the fuel subsidy immediately throws up many controversies and disadvantages for the suffering Nigerian people. For instance, in making the case for the fuel subsidy removal, Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, listed some of the things the government will use the money for but interestingly, these projects are in the budget already! She mentioned that the South-West Road will be constructed with the money saved if the subsidy is removed; that is quite shocking because the contract for that road has already been awarded.

It has already been said that the greatest undoing for whatever good there may be in the removal of the subsidy is the controversial haste with which the Jonathan administration has handled it. Indeed, three of Jonathan’s ministers, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Finance), Diezani Allison-Madueke (Petroleum) and Labaran Maku (Information) as well as the NNPC Group Managing Director, Austin Oniwon, assured Nigerians that the policy would not be implemented until negotiations were completed and the 2012 budget was passed. However, as at January 1, 2012 when the removal was announced, and till this moment, neither of the above had happened. Clearly, the Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Reginald Stanley, lied when he announced on January 1, 2012 that “Following extensive consultation with stakeholders across the nation, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency wishes to inform all stakeholders of the commencement of [the] formal removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit…”

Why President Jonathan surreptitiously removed the fuel subsidy on January 1, 2012 after saying negotiations were ongoing and after earlier disclosing that it would actually be removed on April 1, 2012 remains a matter of deep suspicion as to the real motive behind the removal of the same. I mean, where on earth does a government proceed to act on a hugely unpopular policy and even creates an implementation committee only to invite the labour unions and civil society for ‘consultations’? This is not only stupid but provocative!

Evidently, Jonathan missed the golden opportunity to engage Nigerians to buy into the scheme. He should have held on till April as earlier announced to give the already very impoverished masses some time to see reason for, and make spending adjustments to mitigate the effects of the policy. Besides, it beats one’s imagination that Jonathan was urging Nigerians to make sacrifices while busily allocating a whooping N1bn for food allowance for himself and Vice-President Sambo in 2012. This, coupled with the still very hefty recurrent spending (72%) as against a minimal 28% for capital doesn’t do any good to his much-touted transformational agenda for Nigeria. If anything, it simply shows that he lacks the requisite political will to make the much needed recurrent budget cuts and cannot therefore be expected to earn the trust of the masses he’s demanding even more painful sacrifice from.

Another con against the removal of the fuel subsidy is the huge and popular opposition to it by virtually all segments of Nigerian society from the legislature to the civil society to labour, clergy, youth groups, the NBA, leaders of thought and opposition political parties and so on. Democratic ideals demand that no government should wave aside such a massive chunk of her population for whatever reason. Indeed, the reaction of some members of the House of Reps and labour unions to the announcement of the removal of the subsidy begs for citing here.

Members of the National Assembly said on January 1, 2012 that the Federal Government’s decision to remove the subsidy on petrol would not succeed, vowing to oppose the policy. Opposition lawmakers in particular threatened that they would do everything within their power to stop President Jonathan’s “ambush tactics”.

The Senate Minority Whip, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, faulted the government’s decision, expressing surprise that it went ahead to remove the subsidy on petrol in disregard of the masses’ opinions against the policy. Solomon stressed that the government had been inconsistent in addressing the problem, saying it would not remove subsidy until April and then suddenly taking the people by surprise.

On his part, House of Representatives Deputy Minority Leader, Suleiman Abdurahman-Kawu, reacted, saying, “We will use the law to stop this inhuman act. It is another form of terrorism against Nigerians who are already impoverished. We will not fail to salvage them from this bondage and enslavement. This is another form of terrorism against the Nigerian people which we as their true representatives will not allow.”

Late last December, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media, Zakari Mohammed, had said “On this issue, we are on the same page with Nigerians. Nigerians say that they don’t want fuel subsidy to be removed. As their representatives, we will do what they say; we do not support the removal of subsidy”.

Also, the Nigerian Labour Congress said the decision by the government had revealed that it came to the Nigerian public on the subsidy issue with a mindset that was already made up. NLC Mobilisation Officer, Yaqub Denja, said government cannot arm-twist the populace into accepting a proposal that is not well thought-out, and geared towards adding to the suffering of Nigerians.

The TUC complained that the development was a stab in the back by the government, which only entered into a dialogue with the organised labour late last December on how best to forestall a looming anarchy in the New Year if the plans materialized. It added that the congress was surprised that the government could implement the removal without the National Assembly’s approval.

The TUC said, “This action by President Goodluck Jonathan is therefore, dictatorial, undemocratic and a total declaration of war on the poor masses of this country that are being punished by an inefficient system that is anchored on a few corrupt oil thieves who are major sponsors and backers of government. This is why the government cannot muster enough political will to arrest and prosecute them. What we expect the Federal Government through the PPPRA to do is to tackle the corruption in the system first before this present action. For the avoidance of doubt, the TUC insists that until new refineries are built and the old or existing ones are made to function optimally, there cannot be a removal of petroleum subsidy.”

Former Heads of State, Yakubu Gowon, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo have also been opposed to the policy, especially to the issue of its wrong-timing.

On December 9, 2011, Gowon urged the government to ensure that all the nation’s refineries are functioning at full capacity before they carry on with the policy so that the people would not suffer much.

Speaking on the same wavelength as Gowon, Buhari advised the Jonathan administration to shelve the idea of removing the subsidy for now, “fix our refineries and facilitate the building of new ones, so that we can refine locally for the benefits of our economy and the people and derive maximum benefits from oil.”

Also, on January 2, 2012, Babangida condemned Jonathan’s removal of the fuel subsidy saying the move is ill-timed. He also wondered why the government had to rush into the policy when it had promised the people that consultations were still ongoing.

Even Jonathan’s mentor, former President Obasanjo, decried the policy when he told President Jonathan on December 18, 2011 to forget the idea of ending it for now so as to allow stability to reign in the country.

Seriously, it is quite embarrassing that the Jonathan administration would consider removing the subsidy before seeking to make Nigeria’s refineries work. Reacting to this, an analyst, Martin Ayankola, said “Rather than probing the wastage of billions of naira on the Turn-Around Maintenance of the refineries over the years, the government has simply turned a blind eye to all the malfeasances and opted to make the masses pay for its failure to manage the refineries efficiently and prudently.”

Interestingly, a group of Nigerian children under the aegis of the Association of Conscious Nigerian Children (ACNC) wrote the president on the fuel subsidy removal saying, “We imagined that instead of shouting about that other subsidy you want to annihilate Nigerians with, why not focus on getting the Petroleum Industry Bill passed? Imagine if you had spent half of the energy, time and resources you spent on that wild goose chase trying to get this bill passed?”

In addition, it is obvious that the removal of the fuel subsidy at this point in time was going to prompt public protests and demonstrations that would further stretch an already over-burdened security establishment when one considers the current security impasse in the country following the recent spate of bombings by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, especially coming on the heels of the naive admission by Jonathan’s National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi, that the Federal Government cannot police all of Nigeria.

The merit in the cons of the removal of the fuel subsidy is already translating into concrete hardships for Nigerian masses as evident in the very high transportation and other living costs. Not even the Federal Government’s disclosure of a palliative measure to provide 1600 buses for mass transportation will make any significant difference. As it were, Nigerian masses are bent on protesting against the policy to the finish with demands that the government revert to the N65 pump price before the January 1, 2012 150% hikes sent it variously to N138, N141 and even N150 and more in some places. Labour and civil society are mobilising for massive nationwide strikes and protests despite a fraudulent court injunction the Jonathan administration claims it has obtained from the Industrial Court preventing the strikes.

Certainly, the final chapter to this terrible saga and policy blunder on President Jonathan’s part is very far from being written.

GOD bless Nigeria!

References
-“Subsidy removal: UN commends Jonathan, as EU passes vote of confidence,” January 6, 2012, from vanguardngr.com
-“Fuel subsidy removal: Making Nigerians pay for government’s inefficiency,” January 2, 2012, from punchng.com
-“Subsidy Removal: National Assembly Vows to Stop Jonathan,” January 2, 2011, from punchng.com
-“Mr President, Wahala Dey!” January 5, 2012, from thisdaylive.com
-“New Year shocker: At last, fuel subsidy goes; petrol now sells for N141…NLC, others set for mass action,” January 2, 2012, from nationalmirroronline.net
-“IBB condemns fuel subsidy removal, says it’s ill-timed,” January 2, 2012, from vanguardngr.com
-“Fuel Subsidy Removal: How Okonjo-Iweala convinced Jonathan, Sambo, ministers,” December 25, 2011, from vanguardngr.com
-“IMF chief, Lagarde, visits Nigeria, hails Jonathan reforms bid,” December 19, 2011, from vanguardngr.com
-“Obasanjo to Jonathan: Don’t remove subsidy,” December 19, 2011, from dailytrust.com.ng
-“Don’t remove fuel subsidy, Gowon warns FG,” December 10, 2011, from nationalmirroronline.net
-“Subsidy removal: Feeling the pulse of political parties,” November 25, 2011, from nationalmirroronline.net
-“Jonathan’s all motion, no movement…I regret voting for him –Agbaje,” November 13, 2011, from sunnewsonline.com “Why Allison-Madueke Lied about Fuel Subsidy,” October 28, 2011, from olufamous.blogspot.com
-“Why Fuel Subsidy Must Go –Jonathan,” October 14, 2011, from thisdayonline.com
-“The Curse of Oil: How the oil companies have left the Niger Delta in the lurch,” New African magazine No. 513, January 2012
-“How the IMF, World Bank Failed Africa,” New African magazine No. 458, January 2007

Posted January 7, 2012 by Raymond Eyo in Economy

OKONJO-IWEALA: SERVING A WESTERN EXPLOITATION AGENDA   2 comments

Culled from a piece entitled “Aunty Ngozi and the Savings that won’t benefit us” by C. C. Ekeke, Abuja, December 18, 2011

“One of the things the Finance Minister told them when she was coming to serve is that she must implement the IMF policy which is the removal of the oil subsidy. That is what the government is doing. She said if you are not going to do it, I am not going to serve in your government and the Federal Government foolishly and sheepishly acceded.” – Constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Fred Agbaje
“Jonathan’s all motion, no movement…I regret voting for him –Agbaje”
From sunnewsonline.com, November 13, 2011

Introduction
From “The Presidency and Okonjo-Iweala”
By James Obande, published online at saharareporters.com, August 15, 2011

The worst fears about [the return of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to cabinet with broader powers] seem to have been confirmed by recent developments. Mr. President, the recent appointment of Prof. Sylvester Monye as Special Adviser on Performance and Monitoring, and one Dr. Nwanze Okidegbe as Adviser on Economic Affairs, shows that you are starting off on the wrong foot.

According to popular opinion, appointments to these two positions were conceded to Minister Okonjo-Iweala as part of the terms of her joining your cabinet, and she is going to make more appointments. One problem with the appointees is that they are both from Delta state, the same state as the Minister of Finance. Already, the Director-General in the Budget Office at the Federal Ministry of Finance, is from the same state. So we can visualize a scenario where the Ministry of Finance approves a project, the Performance and Monitoring Office confirms that the project is ready for payment, the Budget Office makes the payment. Of course the Special Adviser on Economic Affairs would have given glowing recommendations initially.

Let me state that while Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is not known to be a corrupt person, people around her are likely to a take advantage of such an arrangement. But corruption aside, one wonders how someone who has risen so high in career can make such flawed appointments, if indeed she made them.

Mr. President, you should realize that government functions best when there are checks and balances. Even the most transparent and well-meaning leader sometimes has excesses, and it is only through adherence to checks and balances that our excesses as human beings are moderated. Even if the appointees are not from the same state, the appointment would still have been problematic, to the extent that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala could have undue influence over agencies and officials that would have otherwise served as checks to her own work. Her own appointees would also oversee the work of fellow Ministers, increasing Cabinet rivalry which could be dysfunctional. Mr. President, under the current arrangement, you cannot get honest economic advice, as your Adviser’s loyalty is elsewhere; and Project and Performance Monitoring cannot be undertaken dispassionately.

One problem is that this would likely go down in history as the first and probably the only time in the whole world that a President’s Adviser is being appointed by a Minister. Mr. President, you may not know this given your inexperience, but your Adviser is your most trusted staff, who would review your Ministers’ positions on issues and make recommendations to you. If there is one appointment that you should not bow to pressure on, it is that of an Adviser. By allowing a Minister to appoint her home boy as your adviser, you have stood logic on its head.

The general belief is that you gave away much more than is necessary to attract Dr. Okonjo-Iweala. This is due to the fact that you are not only inexperienced, you have surrounded yourself with like people, who are too overwhelmed to give a critical look at issues. If you had good negotiators on your side as you put together the deal, you might have gotten Dr. Okonjo-Iweala for next to nothing for two reasons. First, because she has only about a year left in her term as one of three Managing Directors at World Bank, she would take anything, rather than risk being unemployed after 2012.

________

My heart is heavy as I type these words. I will be telling the truth about the woman I once had much faith in. I have no reason to be happy after this essay. By the time I’ll be through with this piece, I can’t sit back in excitement with the feeling that I have dressed down someone in the mould of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. For me, this truth is as bitter as it should be to her.

Recall that between 2005 and 2006, Nigeria paid the Paris Club a whopping $12.4billion in a debt relief arrangement that saw $18billion cancelled out of the $30billion we owed. Some analysts wondered why the Nigerian government agreed to give away such amount of money that would have been used to develop critical infrastructure. The government argued that the debt cancellation was necessary to free up money that was spent annually servicing loans. They assured us that the over $2billion spent annually for the debt servicing would be “saved”, and then invested in education, health, roads etc. Six years later, I join those who think that arrangement wasn’t done in good faith. That huge amount would have created massive wealth for Nigeria if it was invested in the economy as loans to small and medium scale enterprises, low interest loans to unemployed youths, and even loans to bigger business organizations. Whatever the excitement that caused us to take such decision. And guess who pioneered that? Dr Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She was the Finance Minister and the head of that government’s powerful economic team. She had many powers and her words meant so much to us all. Yet that policy ultimately served the interest of the World Bank and Paris Club, rather than Nigeria’s.

Today, the question is: where is the infrastructure that was built from the savings made as a result of that debt we paid? There is nothing to show as a proof that we cleared our debts in the past and freed money from debt servicing for investment into infrastructure. Nigerians as a people benefitted nothing from that arrangement. Yet I wouldn’t have been bothered as much as I am now if our only challenge is that government can’t point to anything concrete as a justification for such outlay of investment money. What should worry every Nigerian is that in just six years, our current debt profile has even risen above what it used to be before we cleared it.

In an editorial of Monday, November 11, 2011, The Sun Newspaper raised a major concern on the rising debt profile of Nigeria, a nation which had exited the bondage of debt earlier. A citation from the editorial reads, “The recent disclosure by the Senate that Nigeria’s public debt has risen to “unsettling” proportions should be a matter of great concern. The figure sourced from Debt Management Office (DMO), the nation’s custodian of public debts, shows that Nigeria’s current debt stock stands at a record high of N6.02 trillion (equivalent of $39.72bn)”.

This clearly highlights our government admiration for profligacy. To service this debt, N559b was proposed by the president in the 2012 appropriation bill. And the legislature is already raising eyebrows.

Six years later, the same Okonjo-Iweala is back on the saddle with even more powers as the Finance Minister. Her boss, a man with innumerable inadequacies, had mandated the woman’s colleagues, from the onset, to take orders from her or quit the cabinet. In President Jonathan’s God-piloted airplane, Ngozi occupies a strategic place as the co-pilot. The President is merely a passenger who has reposed his unflinching confidence in the pilots. I have had to ask myself what the Finance Minister thinks about this new debt profile of Nigeria. Why hasn’t she raised alarm on this? Was it what she envisaged when she was negotiating debt exit for us? For me as a person, I’m put on enquiry concerning her intentions. Those who accuse her of being the agent of the Brettonwoods organizations may really have a genuine reason to do so. And I also have begun to question her sincerity.

Recall also, after President Jonathan’s inauguration, that she was widely anticipated to become the Finance Minister. I read she said people called and threatened her, warning her to not dare step her feet into Nigeria for the purpose of taking up the ministerial appointment. On one of the occasions, I read she said, “But I can’t give up on Nigeria”. Being an incurable believer in the Nigeria project, I went to the market in categorical praise of Aunty Ngozi. I said the criminals are scared of her. I prayed and prayed that she came back early to curtail their activities. Well, here she is.

Her hammer is instead falling on those she should protect: the Nigerian poor. The budget is the first place I expected her presence to show a remarkable improvement. Having been amongst those who criticised Jonathan’s 2011 budget for voting over 70% of our revenue into recurrent expenditure, I had expected Aunty Ngozi to push that awkward fraction down to, at most, 60% so we can free up some money for development. There, she failed miserably.

She has come up with another cycle of “savings”. This time she doesn’t want total debt payment. She wants subsidy removal. She wants the money paid on subsidy by the federal government to be freed up for savings that will be used to develop “critical infrastructure”. Ask her why she thinks it is wrong for the government to subsidize fuel for Nigerians and she tells you there’s so much corruption in the subsidy scheme. According to her co-traveller on the subsidy removal lane, Diezani Allison-Madueke, a cabal or cartel or whatever hijacked the programme, thereby preventing the people from benefitting from it. And Aunty Ngozi bought this story wholesale. The government doesn’t have the duty of fishing out the criminals and punishing them. The poor citizens have the duty of paying for the dumbness and mischief of government with their blood. This is just okay with Aunty Ngozi. She is mum on the high cost of governance.

She hasn’t kicked on the six billion naira given to governors every year as needless “security votes”. She is mum on the number of ministers her boss has. This was the same president who inaugurated the T.Y. Danjuma Presidential Advisory Council to advise him on how to deliver good governance. That Council did a great job of advising the president on the urgency of reducing the high cost of governance. They specifically told him to reduce the number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies. Mr Jonathan damned them with an unnecessary appointment of Bianca Ojukwu and others, just a week later, as his advisers.

Already, a closer look of next year’s budget, as proposed by the president, will give you a cause to question the difference Okonjo-Iweala’s presence is making in Nigeria. Of the N4.7trillion, only a paltry N1.3trillion – mere 28% of the budget – is proposed for capital expenditure, while an embarrassingly high N2.471trillion is going into recurrent expenditure. Here, the damage done to our treasury by the Nigerian rulers and their hordes of unneeded political appointees comes to the fore. In the United States where Aunty Ngozi was ferried from, is this how governance is practiced?

The former World Bank chief’s silence on where she can make reasonable savings from is as worrisome as it is suspicious. What exactly did she come here to do? How much does the United States government pay to their farmers, per year, as subsidy for agricultural produce? Is Aunty Ngozi intent on feigning ignorance on this issue? Why is she out to destroy the Nigerian masses? Where lies her loyalty? Whose life is she intent on bettering?

Yesterday, I saw a glossy bulletin inserted in the centre page of some national dailies listing the projects they want to execute with the savings from their proposed subsidy removal. They have already baptized the savings with a name, “SURE”. That could only be reminiscent of “NEEDS”, Aunty Ngozi’s coinage of the economic policy of her first coming. We are used to naming ceremonies in government. Nobody is impressed with this new acronym. The concern is that the same money we do not have is massively deployed into needless publicity campaign, and even propaganda, just for Nigerians to give their consent to the grand plot by the government to further impoverish them. Economic policy isn’t about the frequent coinage of pronounceable acronyms; it is about putting food on the table of the governed.

The savings will only increase the amounts of money that will be available for stealing by the same criminals who Aunty Ngozi and her boss are unwilling to confront. She doesn’t want to lose those who will donate to her campaign in 2015 when her true reason for coming back home gets finally unveiled.

I have often said she seems not to have any novel idea to bring to the Finance Ministry other than “savings” from the wrong sources. It will certainly be in her best interest to resign and run back to her World Bank. She is pushing this president to a point where he might live to ever regret.

Let Aunty Ngozi be told in clear terms that continuing on this subsidy removal journey will destroy the image she had ab initio which, in any case, may have been wrongly believed by Nigerians anyway.

Contact: nedunaija@gmail.com

From ekekeee.com, link: shar.es/WnE2I

Posted January 7, 2012 by Raymond Eyo in Economy

HOW GOVERNMENT WASTES NIGERIA’S WEALTH -EL-RUFAI   Leave a comment

By Akeeb Alarape
Abuja, September 23, 2011

Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday decried the growing and outrageous cost of governance without meaningful impact on development and empowerment of the populace.

He solicited the assistance of the media in the delivery of dividends of democracy. The former boss of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) gave the charge at the opening of the seventh biennial conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), in Benin, Edo State capital. He noted that the ‘entire oil earnings for the year cannot pay the salaries and allowances of politicians and public sector workers and their overheads such as tea, coffee, travel and estacode’.

The former minister, who was arrested and detained in July, this year for alleged inflammatory talks, gave detailed insight into how government at all tiers squandered collective wealth of the people on few elected and public officials.

While indicting the three arms of government for sheer profligacy, el-Rufai hit the present administration for its wastage and growing budgetary expenditure without commensurate development. In his paper entitled; ‘Perspectives on the cost of governance in a democracy’, El-Rufai stated that Nigeria remains the only developing country where annual expenditure on general administration ranges from 55 per cent to as much as 75 per cent of the budget. “The rich countries spend an average of 10 per cent of their budgets and/or GDP on the general administration of their countries. China and India have the largest bureaucracies in the world. But their average annual expenditure on general administration is only about 12 per cent of GDP, and that is considered high, but at least the results are showing – these are the fastest growing economies in the world that have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the last decade.

Giving a sectoral analysis of how Nigeria’s wealth is cornered by its officials and cronies, the former minister disclosed that a whopping N49.9 billion will be used to run each of the 49 line Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) outlined in the 2011 Appropriation Act; N150 billion to fund the 469 members of the federal legislature and their support staff for the year while upkeep of judges along with their support staff comes to about N73 million on yearly basis.

“Each ministry has at least one minister -some have two or three, with a permanent secretary, and on average eight directors. The ministers and permanent secretaries have personal assistants, special assistants and special advisers. Each of these expects to drive a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) or two to work, complete with police orderlies and other file carriers. Then, they will need houses, furniture and running costs of the vehicles and utilities. The costs of all these somehow find their way into the overheads budget of the ministries, and makes a complete nonsense of the monetization policy we implemented in 2004.

“Up until December 2006, there were 31 cabinet-level ministries including the FCT Administration and about 42 ministers. The reforms of 2006 led to the merger of the ministries of Petroleum and Power into a single Energy Ministry, Water Resources and Agriculture into a single Agriculture Ministry, commerce with industry, the addition to steel development to the mandate of the Solid Minerals Ministry, the abolition of the ministries of Police Affairs, Communication, and Co-operation and Integration in Africa into larger ministries, works into transportation, and so on. This reduced the number of cabinet level MDAs to 21, but without a significant reduction in the number of ministers. The Yar’Adua and Jonathan administrations reversed these reforms, and now, we have some 30 ministries housing between 42 and 48 ministers,” el-Rufai lamented.

“We elect a total of 360 members to the House of Representatives and 109 Senators to make laws and enhance good governance by checking and balancing the excesses of the executive arm of government. For this privilege, the 469 members of the federal legislature and their support staff at the National Assembly (NASS) will spend N150 billion this year. From the NASS website, it is evident that they only passed eight bills as at the end of May 2011, and have been on recess for 43 days out of the first 100 days of this administration. So, assuming that they manage to pass another seven bills before the end of this year, it would cost the Nigerian citizen an average of about 10 billion naira to pass a single bill. This implies that to pass the 2011 budget (which allocated N150 billion to NASS), we paid 10 billion naira. An even more interesting statistics is the cost of maintaining every legislator every year. It works out to a princely N320 million per legislator per annum. At this rate, every four-year stint at NASS works out at N1.28 billion per legislator,” the former minister decried.

“The judiciary seems equally determined not to be outdone. In this year’s budget, apart from the nearly 20 billion naira allocated to the Federal Ministry of Justice, the National Judicial Council will receive 95 billion naira. If we compute that the Supreme Court has 22 Judges; Court of Appeal 67; Federal High Court 58; FCT High Court 38 and the National Industrial Court 13, an average of 30 High Court judges per state gives a total of about 1,300 judges nationwide. Following the same statistical analysis, the upkeep of these judges along with their support staff every year comes to a about N73 million per annum per judge”, El-Rufai stated.

He also picked hole in the budgetary allocation of government, which he said was not in tandem with the needs and aspirations of Nigerians. “Another interesting observation is the fact that government says the problem of power shortage will be a priority, yet the Ministry of Power only got N91 billion as total appropriation, while the security sector (Military, Police, Internal Affairs, National Security Agency, Amnesty, Pensions, Police Reform, etc.) got a mind-boggling N1,592 billion.

“This amount is over 35 per cent of the entire budget. In other words, though Nigerians have never felt so insecure, the NSA, Internal Affairs, Police and Defence combined will be spending N4.36 billion per day on our behalf! This does not include the security votes in ministries, and the 36 states. Even local government chairmen now have security votes”, he added.

The former minister, therefore urged the media to wake up to its traditional role by sensitizing the populace on their rights, saying the people have not found their voice but rather ‘polarised on primordial ethno-religious sentiments’. “We should hold accountable those who hold political offices on our behalf, nonetheless the inadequacies in our electoral system. They should be our servants rather than being our ‘Lords’ as they currently arrogate to themselves and flagrantly display at all available fora. Until the people muster the courage to manifestly use the power, which the tenets of democracy vest in them, it is doubtful if the continually rising cost of governance would impact positively on the wellbeing of the populace.

“Those that impose the outrageous system of governance wherein the spiralling costs translate into less investment, poor services and abject poverty for the majority of the people are drawn across the 774 local governments. This, in my candid opinion, is where the media’s role in educating and mobilizing the people to action appropriately lies. But do we have a mass media that is neither cowed nor bought over? That is a question that you, ladies and gentlemen can answer honestly,” El-Rufai said.

From sunnewsonline.com

Posted September 28, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Economy