- By Hon. Chinwe Ugwu
- It was the 33rd president of US, Mr. Harry S. Truman who once said, “Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.
Fuel Subsidy Removal: Tinubu Goofed, Needs Help
By Audu Liberty Oseni
In the last three months, I have written three articles showing clearly how FUEL SUBSIDY removal was the greatest error. Information that the Tinubu government paid N169.
Tinubu and his team knows that Nigerians have a culture of enduring suffering, but there is a limit to which they can endure.For that reason, they have decided to bring back the Fuel Subsidy to avert the likelihood of mass anger whose outcome cannot be exactly predicted.
It is clear that Mr. Bola Tinubu, the Nigerian President, and his market fundamentalist team, have come to the realization that we are right when we argue that Fuel Subsidy is an Energy Security Nigeria cannot do without.
They can longer sustain their arguments about subsidy removal, they now agree with some of us that maintaining fuel subsidy which has a direct impact on the price of commodities is a mandatory duty and not an option. They know they have goofed, perhaps those who feed on taxpayers’ money to think for the government failed to educate Tinubu that removing Fuel Subsidy in a country like Nigeria with a huge poverty rate and pronounced infrastructural deficit, with a poor transportation system is economy blasphemy that will lead to mass suffering and deaths.
Doesn’t Mr. Tinubu’s government know this truth? The West, particularly the United States who are quick to prescribe neoliberal capitalism to Africa as a solution for economic challenges does not practice that on its own soil.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), pushed Mr. Tinubu’s government and other African states to embrace Neoliberal capitalism. The hypocrisy in their action is that they ensure that in the United States, Britain, and the likes of them, the governments are committed to providing basic welfare packages for the citizens.
Unfortunately, the West has sustained a welfarist ideology ensuring their citizens live a decent life with the government bearing huge costs, is using the IMF and World Bank to force Mr. Tinubu’s government and other countries in Africa to embrace neoliberal capitalism is pushing citizens into poverty, with Subsidy Removal as the most effective weapon.
The problem is that African leaders and their Western allies Economists who cheer this kind of faulty thinking, do not have the understanding that the IMF and World Bank neoliberal capitalist prescription is to keep Africa permanently underdeveloped by destroying citizens purchasing power and the manufacturing sector.
The bitter truth Mr. Tinubu’s government and his neoliberal ideology auxiliary Economists have refused to accept is that there is no country in the world that has made any progress on the basis of IMF and World Bank neoliberal capitalism model which they push in the guise of Subsidy removal.
It is a known fact that countries like China and India which have made measurable impacts in lifting their citizens from poverty and growing their economy, refused to play by the IMF and World Bank rules. Tinubu has to have this kind of understanding if he must put Nigeria on the path of sustainable growth.
Tinubu and his neoliberal Economists propagandists must know that the United States and the West do not practice this kind of wicked capitalism ideology they push to Africa. At least, the 2009 global recession has shown that in the United States, neoliberal capitalism is a mere intellectual exercise that is not applicable to real-life situations.
Even as the US battled the economic recessions, the government did not remove subsidies, didn’t sack workers, didn’t crumble its economy through currency devaluation, and did not tax the citizens to raise money. As a matter of fact, the US government increased its expenditure and lowered taxes. The government did that so the poor would have money to spend on ground since the recession happened as a result of inadequate money in circulation. The Private sector got bailouts from the government against the neoliberal rules of economic development.
Evidence before us is that subsidy is not the problem, it is the corruption in the way it has been managed. Nigerians must demand that Mr. Tinubu’s government addresses corruption in the fuel subsidy management and reinstate it for the common good of all citizens.
The neoliberal Economists propagandists who have lost touch with reality and have refused to embrace developmental economics, who are advising Mr. Tinubu to continue with the neoliberal capitalist model that has been rejected by the West must stop.
Mr. Tinubu’s team needs to help him by exploring home-grown developmental economics models with governance and citizens’ welfare at the centre. Wicked capitalism with cruel policies has not helped any country in the world and Nigeria will not be an exception.
Audu Liberty Oseni, MAWA-Foundation Coordinator- email@example.com
FULL TEXT of President Bola Tinubu’s 63rd Independence Day Anniversary Speech
1. It is my unique honour to address you on this day, the 63rd anniversary of our nation’s independence, both as the President of our dear country and, simply, as a fellow Nigerian.
2. On this solemn yet hopeful day, let us commend our founding fathers and mothers.
3. Let us, at this very moment, affirm that as Nigerians, we are all endowed with the sacred rights and individual gifts that God has bestowed on us as a nation and as human beings.No one is greater or lesser than the other. The triumphs that Nigeria has achieved shall define us. The travails we have endured shall strengthen us. And no other nation or power on this earth shall keep us from our rightful place and destiny. This nation belongs to you, dear people. Love and cherish it as your very own.
4. Nigeria is remarkable in its formation and essential character. We are a broad and dynamic blend of ethnic groups, religions, traditions and cultures. Yet, our bonds are intangible yet strong, invisible yet universal. We are joined by a common thirst for peace and progress, by the common dream of prosperity and harmony and by the unifying ideals of tolerance and justice.
5. Forging a nation based on the fair application of these noble principles to a diverse population has been a task of significant blessing but also a serial challenge. Some people have said an independent Nigeria should never have come into existence. Some have said that our country would be torn apart. They are forever mistaken. Here, our nation stands and here we shall remain.
6. This year, we passed a significant milestone in our journey to a better Nigeria. By democratically electing a 7th consecutive civilian government, Nigeria has proven that commitment to democracy and the rule of law remains our guiding light.
7. At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this great nation. Among those promises, were pledges to reshape and modernize our economy and to secure the lives, liberty and property of the people.
8. I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy.
9. I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment. Those who sought to perpetuate the fuel subsidy and broken foreign exchange policies are people who would build their family mansion in the middle of a swamp. I am different. I am not a man to erect our national home on a foundation of mud. To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground.
10. Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever fading past.
11. There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.
12. My government is doing all that it can to ease the load. I will now outline the path we are taking to relieve the stress on our families and households.
13. We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilize the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.
14. Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month.
15. To ensure better grassroots development, we set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas. States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.
16. Making the economy more robust by lowering transport costs will be key. In this regard, we have opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation. These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.
17. New CNG conversions kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process. We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs. This is a groundbreaking moment where, as a nation, we embrace more efficient means to power our economy. In making this change, we also make history.
18. I pledged a thorough housecleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted. Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.
19. Wise tax policy is essential to economic fairness and development. I have inaugurated a Committee on Tax Reforms to improve the efficiency of tax administration in the country and address fiscal policies that are unfair or hinder the business environment and slow our growth.
20. To boost employment and urban incomes, we are providing investment funding for enterprises with great potential. Similarly, we are increasing investment in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
21. Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.
22. My administration shall always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people. Inter-Service collaboration and intelligence sharing have been enhanced. Our Service Chiefs have been tasked with the vital responsibility of rebuilding the capacities of our security services.
23. Here, I salute and commend our gallant security forces for keeping us safe and securing our territorial integrity. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We remember them today and their families. We shall equip our forces with the ways and means needed to perform their urgent task on behalf of the people,
24. We shall continue to make key appointments in line with the provisions of the Constitution and with fairness toward all. Women, Youth and the physically challenged shall continue to be given due regard in these appointments.
25. May I take this opportunity to congratulate the National Assembly for its role in the quick take-off of this administration through the performance of its constitutional duties of confirmation and oversight.
26. I similarly congratulate the judiciary as a pillar of democracy and fairness.
27. I also thank members of our dynamic civil society organizations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy. We may not always agree but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect.
28. Fellow compatriots, the journey ahead will not be navigated by fear or hatred. We can only achieve our better Nigeria through courage, compassion and commitment as one indivisible unit.
29. I promise that I shall remain committed and serve faithfully. I also invite all to join this enterprise to remake our beloved nation into its better self. We can do it. We must do it. We shall do it.!!!
30. I wish you all a happy 63rd Independence Anniversary.
31. Thank you for listening.32. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
BRICS: Did Nigeria Miss Out On Admittance?
By Kayode Adebiyi
At the 2023 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, the leaders of member countries that form the bloc– Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – announced the impending admittance of six more countries to its fold.
Host, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, said at the event that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates had been invited to join the bloc.
With full membership scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, BRICS will now comprise 11 countries.
Several other countries have expressed interest in joining the group, a clear indication in the 67 countries invited as guests to attend its 2023 summit.
BRICS was founded as BRIC in 2009 as an alternative platform for its members to challenge the international multilateral cooperation dominated by the United States, the European Union and the Bretton Woods system.
South Africa joined the group in 2010, thereby giving it the present acronym which, with the new entrants, will be known as BRICS+.
Although many regard the bloc as an informal multilateral organisation, experts say its last summit was a statement of intent to truly challenge the status quo.
Navdeep Suri, a Fellow at India’s think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF), said the BRICS’ Johannesburg summit passed a clear message.
“The 15th BRICS summit has gone further than any other in the recent past to modernize and galvanise the grouping.
“It has sent a strong signal that the post-World War II order should accept the multipolar reality and change with the times’’, he said.
This position was echoed by Jhanvi Tripathi, an Associate Fellow at ORF, who said the group’s composition suggests that it intends to shake up global economic and political cooperation.
“Even the profiles of the new members suggest that the system is headed for something beyond traditionally ‘acceptable’ partners in the eyes of the West.
“The presence of Iran especially and the reactions to it will be interesting to follow,” she said.
Indeed, even before the new members, the original five member countries accounted for over 40 per cent of the global population and a quarter of its economy.
Reuters reported before the summit in South Africa that at least 40 countries had indicated interest in joining the bloc, many of them emerging economies.
Many public affairs analysts and commentators have expressed curiosity as to why Nigeria – Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country – failed to secure admission into the potentially formidable bloc.
In his column Begging for a Seat at the Table, Azu Ishiekwene wondered why President Bola Tinubu was more obsessed with becoming a member of the G-20, rather than BRICS.
“Instead of trying to cross seven seas to join the G-20, Nigeria should be more worried that even though it was also a guest at the BRICS meeting in Johannesburg in August, it was not among the six countries that would get membership from January 2024, with the two new spots in Africa going to Ethiopia and Egypt,” he wrote.
Analysts say Bretton Wood institutions such as the World Bank and IMF are not in a hurry to reform and review their structural approach towards emerging markets’ economic challenges.
They say that as mono-cultural economies, emerging markets have no way of influencing the prices of primary products they export for foreign exchange.
Shouldn’t Nigeria join an economic bloc that offers more than currency devaluation, austerity measures, unequal access to foreign exchange and trade imbalances, some analysts ask analyst asked.
One way to look at the potential benefits of Nigeria joining BRICS is to look at how South Africa, so far, its smallest member in terms of size of economy and population, has leveraged its membership.
Available data shows that South Africa’s overall trade with its BRICS partners increased by an average growth of 10 per cent between 2017 and 2021.
BRICS accounted for 21 per cent of the country’s global trade in 2022, with trade with China accounting for about 15 per cent of South Africa’s global trade with a total trade of R556 billion.
India also accounted for 6 per cent of the total trade, increasing from R140bn in 2021 to R225bn in 2022.
Already, the bloc has floated the New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, which is a multilateral development bank to finance public and private projects.
There is also the mulling of a common currency, advocated by President Lula da Silva of Brazil, as a means of reducing member countries’ vulnerability to dollar exchange rate fluctuations.
Some foreign relations experts say perhaps, Nigeria’s reluctance to join BRICS is a cautious attempt not to rush into an association with a group labeled as anti-West.
But Prof. Günther Maihold, a Senior Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said such an assumption does not hold water.
“The old scripts of belonging to a certain order are no longer valid because the reliability of traditional partners has changed.
“The G-7 needs to be aware that the formation of BRICS+ is more than a mere political maneuver to advance China’s vision of international order,” he said.
Nigeria’s Afro-centric foreign policy and its relationship with the West are valuable. But global economy-wise, it can ill afford to put all its eggs in one basket. (NANFeatures)
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