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Subsidy removal: How Tinubu can reduce the pain of Nigerians

by Church Times

By Pastor Femi Cole

With the myriad of challenges facing Nigeria, sometimes I wonder how someone would be interested in wanting to be the country’s President. It is a thankless job no doubt; even for those who genuinely want to serve.

The immediate past president of the country, Mohammadu Buhari made it more difficult to want to aspire to be president of Nigeria due to the way the economy was managed under him. But the problem didn’t start with him. It is a culmination of the misgovernance of previous years. As of today, the government is facing a number of challenges chief of which is the paucity of funds. The treasury is relatively empty with little or nothing to work with going by reports from the media.
It has become so bad that the proposed palliative to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal is being borrowed.  Increasing the palliative as some are clamouring for will only cause more inflation and increase the suffering of the people in the long run.

The way out

But there is a way out. But then, Nigerians will need a large dose of patience with the government for it to come up with strategies to deal with the problem.
First, the government needs to reduce the number of days people go to work to three while also allowing people to work remotely for two (2) days a week.  Already some states have seized that initiative. This is the mildest palliative for government workers while corporate organizations should also be encouraged to follow suit.
The money that is being proposed for palliative should be used for something else other than sharing #8,000 monthly with 12 million families. Thank God a recent report indicates that President Bola Tinubu has asked that the proposal be reviewed. I think the money could be used to support farmers, support nano and micro business owners, etc.
The federal and state governments should provide mass transit for the masses in strategic locations to cushion the effect of the high cost of transportation and living costs.
There is also the need for government spending to be pruned.  There is so much waste around Nigeria’s presidential system of government. This does not speak well of a nation that is in dire strait. The National Assembly budget needs to be examined and scaled down.  Their salaries, allowances, the special assistants, aids, and administrative costs should be restructured to reflect the mourning period of the nation.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President have more Senior Special Assistants than some State Governors and the Prime Minister of Britain and Speaker of the House of Commons respectively. Yet 99% of our national income is used to service debt.  This is scandalous, to say the least.
Despite the sorry state of things and the hardship facing the people, our lawmakers are insensitive and are busy behaving like prodigal sons. It is unthinkable that they would want to buy SUVs for themselves in this dire moment of the country.
We hope they wouldn’t push us all to the precipice of economic ruin like it happened in Venezuela.

Lawmakers are indifferent 

It is unfortunate that none of our elected representatives in the National Assembly has ever commented on the state of the economy and what sacrifices they are ready to make to be part of the solution.  I am not aware of any. I may be proved wrong.
Rather than being indifferent, they should be laying good examples and scrutinizing the federal budget. They should start with their own budget and see what they can sacrifice. After all, they say charity begins at home.
The plain fact is Nigeria is broke. Very broke.  It is worrisome when you earn N100 a month and you spend N99 to service debt alone. The painful thing about it is many of the debts are of dubious origin.
All appointments to Federal boards except essential ones need to be suspended for now to save money. We cannot continue to spend what we don’t have. We will only be increasing our pain and digging ourselves deeper into debt, suffering, and woes.
Those who are suffering the most are the ordinary Nigerians who are not responsible for the financial recklessness of past administrations.

Prayers for wisdom

I pray for God’s wisdom quickly for our leaders to resolve the economic hardship of our people otherwise, a massive revolt is inevitable.
The French and Bolshevik revolutions are a lesson and history has a way of repeating itself.
Those who are in position, whether elective or otherwise should act now. Let them not be complacent and think they would be immune to the impending economic cum social woes because of the large sums of money in their bank accounts.  Our leaders need to act fast to save our nation from the unimaginable.

Pastor Femi Cole is Convener, The Redeemites in Politics and Governance

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