In the developed nations, when the government intends to introduce something new into the system and it affects nearly everyone in the country, there are processes for doing such. Often times, it begins with an official statement not just telling us the government wants to remove this or add that. It states the intention of the government and the reason the government needs to act the time the issue is being raised.
In some cases, you will get facts and figures from the official statement to help you understand the implication of the decision that the government is about to make even if it does not go down well with everyone whos hearing it. In the case of The United States, the seating President will be willing to engage the congress and even the general public in a national debate on the subject matter. The congress also spends some time reviewing the matter and it usually gets to a level where the final decision on the subject matter is not about the Presidents party but about whats more beneficial to the society and what the people want as a nation.
We must admit that it is not enough for President Goodluck Jonathan to declare he wants to remove the oil subsidy. Over the weeks when a number of people started making so much noise about the subsidy, I decided to keep quiet and watch for more statements to be made about this issue from government quarters. This is more important to be because I cannot afford to shout and argue blindly without having details to stand on in any presentation I want to make.
Up until this moment, most of the arguments I have heard about the oil subsidy have not made too much sense to me because most of the people talking have been more biased about the political party of the president or the anticipated increase in the price of oil. Unfortunately, not even the Labour Congress has a solid argument to stand.
A few people have gone in the direction that I expect this argument to take and what they have simply done is to ask questions about the subsidy. From the Senates romantic affair with the Ministers directly involved with the removal of oil subsidy, Ministers of Finance and Petroleum resources (Ngozi Okonjo Iweal and Deziani Allison Maduake), the only thing that can be deduced is the fact that the subsidy from the government had tripled in figures. Prices of fuel are not coming down despite the increase in the subsidy from the government. We obviously have no working refineries and drastic measures have to be taken so that we just do not continue to enrich those who are already rich.
What I think the federal government should be doing right now is to come out on national television for a public debate over the removal of the oil subsidy. The government needs to tell people why
1.The subsidy from government for the oil tripled without the price of oil dropping
2.Why do you want to remove the oil subsidy right now?
3.What will you do with the money that you are removing from oil?
4.How are you going to tackle the expected effect of the removal from oil subsidy?
5.Why cant you do a gradual reduction in the subsidy instead of instant and total removal?
6.If importers of fuel have relied on subsidy to bring in fuel, how will they be able to bring in fuel after the removal?
7.More importantly, what is the federal governments concrete plan for bringing our refineries back to life?
If we work in the line of an intellectual discourse and refuse to be distracted by the noise all over the place, we will spend little time hitting the right issues and come out with better results. We already have too much noise because we seem to be reacting too quickly without a thorough analysis of the real issues.
Dont just say no! Question the action and the process, demand answers and the government must be willing to debate instead of telling us some cabals are in charge so we need to remove subsidy.
© Fola Daniel Adelesi
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