Sunday, January 22, 2012


I am sure I have your attention now! As inconceivable as it might sound, all the signs point to a nation on the verge of a financial meltdown!

When an entity's liabilities outweigh her assets, and ability to generate enough income to meet future liabilities, such an entity is usually said to be insolvent, bankrupt, or broke!

In movies, when a person is shot, or stabbed, the victim usually dies instantly, except where a slow death has been written into the plot!

In real life however, we know that death from shooting, or stabbing, can be agonizingly slow! It is a process of hemorrhaging the precious life sustaining fluid, blood: that eventually kills!

Nations do not die like people in films, they die in slow motion! The death blow could have been delivered through a failed policy resulting from a fundamental failure of leadership!

In our own case, that failure has been the policy of successive governments budgeting more on recurrent expenditure (mostly the salaries of political office holders, and other emoluments) instead of capital projects!

We spent more money on areas that did not produce wealth, while neglecting the wealth-generating ones!

Successive leaders have operated with the mentality that oil will never run out, and that their profligate lifestyles would never undermine the nation as a whole: they were all wrong!

Our nation is broke! 

It is the only explanation for the madness of January 1st 2012: the complete removal of subsidy on petroleum! The government could no longer sustain an expenditure that was sure to doom it's very survival!

Nigeria is a modern day example of the infamous General Santa Anna! A man who was reputed for having the ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! In a nutshell, he often managed to turn a winning situation, to one of desperation!

The question of removal of subsidy, or otherwise, would not have arisen, if Nigeria had properly utilized her God-given asset: crude oil!

Through criminal neglect, collusion with fuel importing cartels, and abdication of responsibility, we allowed our refineries to die without as much as a whimper!

If we had been refining our own crude for local consumption, the argument that we ought to be paying international rates would be a non-starter!

For years we mollified the people by living a lie! Money that could have been used to develop our infrastructure, was paid to government cronies, and carpetbaggers, as the difference in the cost of importing petroleum products, in order to keep prices at an artificial level!

It was the only way peace could be sustained in a nation of such institutionalized corruption, and poverty!

Some of the individuals who benefited from the payment of this subsidy, are actually ministers in this present government!

As we are all aware, many nations in the Euro zone have been seeking external funding to keep them out of insolvency!

Nigeria is aware, that if she goes cap in hand, looking for a bail-out, no one would listen to her!

We are a major oil producing nation! Our president has eight presidential jets in his fleet! He, and his vice president will feed themselves with one billion naira this year alone!

So the only option left to the government, was to go to the people for "a loan"! It is not one they intend to pay back!

It is actually more a case of a drowning man clutching at floating leaves!

If the truth must be told, Nigeria can actually save so much more money, if all political office holders, elected, and appointed, were to take a seventy five percent pay cut!

In that single move, we would see the pendulum swing from red, to black!

Nigeria is broke, and fixing her will not be easy!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012


When the Jonathan administration was busy earmarking how it would spend billions of naira, on an ill-advised celebration of Nigeria's jubilee, many of us warned that it was a profligate move!

When he went ahead to purchase a brand new presidential jet for seven billion naira, we wondered how he could justify such a huge, and very wasteful expenditure, in the midst of the abject crippling poverty assailing the nation!

His presidential advisory panel, that he personally appointed, advised that his cabinet was bloated, and a waste of scarce resources: he also ignored them! 

There have been numerous calls, that the remuneration of political office holders was outrageous, and not in sync with the reality in Nigeria!

This too was not addressed!

So it is curious to observe the presidential leopard suddenly attempting to change his spots! He seems to have experienced an epiphany,or enlightenment of sorts!

The Jonathan who was adept at racking up debts for future generations, at a time that the price of oil was rising, suddenly started speaking the tongues of the frugal, and not of the spendthrift his actions had hitherto supported!

One would have expected him to cut down on his outrageously large cabinet, or on his foreign trips! When he went to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia, he took along 400 delegates! Most of them were nothing more than parasitic tourists feeding on the presidential pig! Back home, this profligacy, is sustained by the elaborate court he seems to be holding at the presidential villa that requires him, and his vice president, spending a billion a year on food!

Instead of looking at himself, and the institutionalized waste he fosters, he has decided that removing subsidy on petrol, the only welfare Nigerians enjoy, is where he would save some money!

He has chosen to show that he can be thrifty, by endangering the very existence of the nation, with runaway inflation, and unsustainable price rises, that his course of action is sure to engender!
A nation in remorse,shock and awe, is now suffering from buyer's remorse over his election!

He has not ceased to tell us how he went to school without shoes, it seems he is determined to increase the number of children, who will not go to school at all, those who would not even be able to afford plates, let alone the food to put on them! 

His actions will reduce the whole nation to a basket case: a failure of his own making!

Funny enough, his actions are recorded by a story in the Bible!

When King David clandestinely took Beersheba, Uriah's only wife, the prophet was sent to confront him with a parable!

The prophet, if we remember, told David that there was a poor man, who had just one lamb, and he doted on it as an only child! In the same community was a rich man, who had thousands of life stock, and on a day the rich man wanted to entertain a guest, he conveniently ignored his great herd, and forcefully took the poor man's lamb!

When David heard the story, he was seriously vexed, and promised to kill the rich man for his injustice! That was when the prophet opened up, and told King David, that he was actually the rich man in the story!

In like fashion, Jonathan you are the rich man! 

You have taken our only lamb!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I will support the removal of subsidy on petroleum products, on one condition: that we stop subsidizing those in government!

Let them pay the full cost of service to the people! Let government service no longer be an opportunity to become rich, but a voluntary one!

In Switzerland, the legislators serve part time, and at their own expense! They are not paid any wages!

In Nigeria however, our national legislators earn more than the American president, and do astronomically less, and are even less valuable to the people!

Our president, and his vice, will spend about one billion naira on food alone next year! This is in a nation where more than ninety percent of the population, live on less than a dollar a day!

Our politicians enjoy overseas medical care, paid for by the government! If this is not subsidy, then I am a cow's cousin!

Serving in government, has become the most lucrative vocation in Nigeria today! That is why people now kill, and maim others, to get to office!

Nigerians have been presented with the most hair-brained policy ever conceived in the history of this nation! 

Our nation imports refined petroleum products, because successive governments failed to maintain existing refineries, or build new ones to replace the ageing ones!

That criminal neglect, was compensated for, by importing refined petroleum products! Fast forward to the year 2011, a smart alec decides that instead of addressing the problem, which would mean building new refineries, it would be better to make the masses pay for government's incompetence!

Is it not shameful, that Africa's largest oil producer, does not, and cannot refine the crude oil it produces? But instead, imports refined products from other African nations that do not have crude oil reserves, but have built refineries to refine imported Nigerian crude?

Since government is incapable of solving this problem, but has chosen to pass the cost to the citizens, it would be nice for them to take another step: remove subsidy from governance!

In a nation without a social security set up, cheap fuel, is the closest thing to welfare! 

Our politicians do not pay for anything while in office, despite the huge salaries they are on! What then are their salaries for?

It is time to remove the subsidies they have been living fat on: it would be nice to see how they would cope with the hell they have created!

While doing the bidding of their master the IMF, they forget that conditions in Nigeria, are not the same as in the nations of the West: where every resource is judiciously, and transparently used!  Where people have have welfare and social security, and living standards and wages, much higher!


Sunday, January 1, 2012


I am sitting at home in Abuja, Nigeria's federal capital, and I am contemplating a tsunami-like sequence of events! I am contemplating the cataclysmic chaos that will result from the recent removal of subsidy on premium motor spirit, otherwise known as petrol!

Nigeria is the world's seventh largest exporter of crude oil, but has little, or no refining capacity! 

It imports all the refined products required to run the country! 

To make prices affordable, government has had to subsidize the cost of imported products to make them affordable! 

In a nutshell, our government has been paying the penalty for her failure to efficiently manage the economy by refining what we produce, to reduce cost!

With this new policy, the full cost would be transferred to the citizenry, at least those who consume petrol!

In my head, I am simulating various scenarios, and wondering how best to cope with the emerging unfriendly landscape!

What is sure, is that prices will rise contemporaneously across the board! 

Petrol is the real lifeblood of the economy! It is the independent variable that determines all others, it is the nexus, and the fulcrum, the heart and soul of our economy!

It used to cost me four thousand eight hundred naira to fill my car's tank every week, now it would be costing me about nine thousand naira! 

I need to pass that burden to my clients, as surely as others are bound to pass theirs on to me!

I cannot blame them, because no one is in business for charitable purposes only! I see the cost of tomatoes increasing, I see firewood costing more! I see cooking gas costing more because it would cost more to transport!

The only thing that is not likely to increase in cost, is the collective hatred of this government! That would be cheap, and abundant! 

Nations rise and fall on tough decisions, but not all nations can withstand the same tough conditions! Each, with her peculiarities, requires tact, and wisdom! 

Electricity tariffs were increased only in June of 2011, and they are due for an upward review in January 2012! This means that our people would be required to adjust upwards, what they pay for what are the two basic components of living in today's Nigeria!

What the government gave with the salary increase some months ago, it has taken two-fold, with the new rates! 

What is heartrending, is that in the midst of these increases, the cost of maintaining those in government has gone up! They have not been asked to adjust to the new reality! Only the common people have! Perhaps there is an unseen wisdom to this apparent idiocy, it remains to be gleaned from the huge wave of losses looming on the horizon! 

It promises to be bloody, it is sure to be brutal! Jobs will be lost, and comforts sacrificed! Many people will go from being barely alive, to life-support!

All because we live in a country that has not been able to manage her natural resources! If we are not able to take advantage of a commodity where we have a comparative advantage, because we produce it, how are sure of making any headway in those that are outside our control!

Many have argued that the drive to remove subsidy, was the agenda of the IMF: our politicians had robustly rebutted this assertion! It is surreal, that one week after Ghana removed subsidy on petrol, Nigeria is doing the same! 

I once said Nigeria was a joke; a bad joke: I now need to retract that statement, we are not a joke, we are a nightmare: a present, and continuous one!