Arise O’Compatriots

Posted: January 16, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Arise O’ compatriots. Nigeria’s call, obey. To serve our fatherland, with love and strength and faith. The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain. To serve with heart and might. One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.
That is the national anthem of the federal republic of Nigeria. Of course I have not taken out time to re-educate the general public on how the anthem goes. However, we seem to have forgotten the key perspectives and basic values upon which a true healthy society thrives. Love, strength, freedom, peace, unity, Justice, fairness. We have been betrayed, we have been misled. Our government has imposed its position on us. A position we willingly gave it. Is the government greater than its people? Is it wiser, and even if it is, does it have a right to impose this on the people. “Where the people fear their government, we have tyranny, where the government fears its people, we have freedom”. In other words, “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people”.
On the 1st of January 2012, the Federal Government through President Goodluck Jonathan embarked on implementing with immediate effect, the removal of government’s subsidy on Petrol. Resulting in the immediate increase in the pump price of the product from 65 Naira to as much as 141 Naira and even more in some places around the country. The premise of this policy, (albeit on after thought after strong resistance by the masses) was to channel the money being spent on subsidizing petrol towards the development of other sectors of the economy, and improve infrastructure. Oh surely, if the government spends about 1.3 trillion on subsidizing petrol each year and we lack standard roads, basic quality health care, a viable agricultural system despite our rich and virile soil, a dilapidated educational system then surely, we should think of re-strategizing and chanelling this money towards other “laudable projects”.
This, on surface value seems a very good initiative and a step in the right direction. But on a very closer look and with deeper probe, we see it for what it truly is. Whether or not it is for the good of the masses, I’ll leave such judgments to you but lets take a look at the real situation of things and I’m sure as a “thinking” man, we will reach possibly the same conclusion by the end of this article.
Firstly, The Nigerian Fiscal year starts from March, which means, for the government to implement such policy on supposedly innocuous grounds, it would have to wait till the 2011 budget which had already taken care of subsidy on petrol for the 2011 fiscal year to expire at the end of March and therefore take effect with the 2012 budget. It chose instead to implement ahead of schedule without proper consultation and this action alone in itself is criminal and in other better structured democracies, the president would have been impeached.
Secondly, allow me to quote Mr Fela Durotoye, a renowned public speaker. “Wasteful leadership cannot make prudent investments”. We have a president that travels with a convoy of at least twenty cars to the airport, spends over a billion naira on feeding the family of the president every year, Spends about 25% of our Gross Domestic Product paying a legislature to meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Even despite earning so much still collect lofty allowances to furnish their homes and offices every year!! Every friggin’ year!!!! In contrast, Within his first few days as British prime minister, David Cameron led the austerity cuts by cutting down his convoy to two cars and one outrider. The members of parliament are now only allowed third class train tickets on official travel as opposed to their first class train allowances. Can they act in honour as Obama did when in 2010, he got every member of his cabinet to take a pay cut, starting with himself? Leadership by example!!
Between 1999 and 2011, Nigeria made more money than it ever made between 1960 (independence from colonial rule) and 1999 and yet our poverty index rose from around 46% in 1999 to over 70% that we have today. The minimum wage in Nigeria is set at 18,000 Naira (less than 120 US Dollars per month) and over 70% of its population live on less than a dollar a day (W.H.O 2011). You have removed the subsidy on petrol and claimed it as the only way out of our financial mess. 1.3 trillion Naira, but Olisah Agbakogba has come out to challenge the presidency saying this is not so. He has said the maritime and shipping industry alone will generate over 7trillion Naira annually for the FG and that removal of subsidy should be a last resort if the reasons given for the action were truly genuine. Surely this dwarfs the 1.3 trillion the FG claims it needs to move forward. Have the government sought to honestly find every way we can plug wastage in our leaking economy before we ask a feeble populace to carry the burden of corruption and gross ineptitude of a gluttonous few?
Over the last couple of months, we have witnessed several serious threats to National Security, the incessant bombings including the United Nations building in the federal capital that was bombed by an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group. Threats to life and property and yet our apparently “sapient” president issued a statement saying “Terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon, maybe it’s Nigeria’s turn”. In the educational sector, University lecturers have been on strike since the beginning of December and yet Mr President saw none of these as serious national issues except that he was so absorbed with changing Nigeria’s official vehicle number plates and oh, of course how can we forget the hike in petroleum prices?
There are a myriad of issues I want to highlight but for the benefit of continuity and non-verbosity, I shall continue to speak via this medium and express my opinions on this issue bit by bit until Justice is served.
On the 3rd of January 2012, the general public came out to peacefully protest without prior coercion from any quarters to let their position on the issue known and warn Mr President against non-compliance. The protests were to remind our leaders that Justice, Fairness and Freedom are more than words, they’re perspectives. However, over the course of one week of protests, the government shifted grounds and reduced the pump price to 97 naira even when it was clear what the people’s mandate was: 65 Naira or nothing. Now he has resorted to repressive force, deploying soldiers to venues were previously peaceful protests were held and where once we spoke as we saw fit, we now have truncheons and guns soliciting our conformity with their demands. Is this the symbol of a true democracy? Is this the premise upon which healthy societies thrive? So if the crimes of this government and its predecessors remain unknown to you, then I would suggest that you go ahead with your everyday activity and jobs and forget about protests and strikes but if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel and if you would seek as I seek then I ask you to stand beside me and Arise O’Compatriots, obey Nigeria’s call for help. The labour of heroes past shall never be in vain. Amen!

Authored By ‘Lola

‘Lola is the editor here at La Critique
Follow him on Twitter @Lolaelblack
Follow La Critique on Twitter; @LaCritique_ng and We are on Facebook too


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