Business is booming.

Why not return the fuel subsidy?

By Alex Abutu

In life, one of the hardest decisions is to openly agree that one has made a mistake, especially if the mistake has grievous implications on the lives of others.

Nigerians are very notorious for standing by their decisions no matter the implications otherwise why would anyone have pity for the former Governor of the Central Bank following the pains inflicted on Nigerians by the Naira change policy. Many Nigerians died while others suffered irreversible loss.

As if we do not learn from our past, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while still taking the Oath of Office, hurriedly announced the removal of fuel subsidy and this singular action is giving Nigerians sleepless nights.

In his effort to cushion the impact of the subsidy removal, Mr President approved some palliatives to help Nigerians move along while he tries to fix the economy that is nose diving at the speed of light.

But his judgment and decisions have left everyone wondering why he won’t return the subsidy instead?

Mr President graciously approved the distribution of the sum of five billion naira to each state of the federation and 1000 bags of rice as a short term measure to cushion the impact of the subsidy removal on Nigerians.

According to his spokespeople, the five billion naira is to be shared to poor families in the states and so far, the calculations coming out of the states have shown that each of the poor families of at least six persons will get N14,000.

This strategy of Mr. President has reminded me of an age long proverb which was the basis of the home training we received and struggled to give our children. “Teach a child to catch a fish and not just give him a fish to eat, so that when he grows, he will be catching fishes rather than looking for free fishes.”

Rather than make the environment conducive for Nigerians to catch fishes, Mr. President is doling out fishes to the poor and vulnerable Nigerians, where has anything like that worked before in Africa?
Why not commit the total palliative in this shady strategy to supporting the subsidy removal? Why not strategize a way to navigate out of the fuel crisis quagmire?
What will N14,000 do to a family of 6 in this present-day Nigeria? Or are we repeating another COVID-19-kind of wanton looting of our collective future?

Is the policy a party ideology? Because Nigerians have yet to recover from the shame and inglorious stealing exhibited by the last administration during the COVID-19 pandemic when the federal government said it spent about N523.3 million in a month on a school feeding programme during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

The then Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouq, said about 124,589 households benefited across the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states. Meanwhile nobody knows how they arrived at those households and more importantly, no one knows who benefited.

Has this new administration returned to using poor households as a measure to improperly distribute handouts as well as loot those handouts?

Ordinarily, government gestures such as this should be celebrated but every Nigerian is apprehensive about this policy principally due to the following: 1) How would the poor households be selected? 2) Why route the delivery through Governors? 3) What can N14,000 buy for a family of 6? 4) How long will this family support last?

We, Nigerians are a proud people. Pointing out anyone as poor in any community in Nigeria is not only shameful but we are not wired as a people to subject ourselves to that kind of ridicule. Imagine what happens in the neighborhood when your father stands in that queue all day long waiting for N14,000. What will happen to his children? Did we even think of the stigma that such families will carry for the rest of their lives?

Today, across many communities in the country many young men and women are unable to find life partners for marriages because of their parents’ past lives. Are we heading back to those days? Or do we want to jettison hard work and dignity in labor which have remained as the driving forces and inspiration for the younger generation over the years?

It is important to note that although things are hard and Nigerians are seriously suffering, both men and women are equally struggling hard to feed their families, government should not rub salt on the injuries of Nigerians with this miserable N14,000 palliatives.

A lot of Nigeria voted or supported President Tinubu because they said he is smart and will in no time think Nigeria out of the ditch in which the last administration drove the country, but so far, it has been disappointment all the way.

From one callous policy mistake to another and inflicting more pains on the sensibilities of us as Nigerians.

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