We are all wailing wailers

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Politicians will say and do anything and
everything to win elections. Just see how
President Donald Trump is willfully
distorting facts, inventing fictions to
strengthen the narratives that suit him and
creating an alternative reality of the ravages
of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economy
that has tanked.
Trump is desperate to get re-elected on
November 3. And he’s prepared to demolish
the United States constitution and
democratic processes to get what he wants.
So desperate he has become that he’s asking
his supporters to vote by mail (which he’s
continued to attack as fraudulent) early and
then do in-person voting on Election Day.
That will amount to double voting, which is
clearly illegal.
But he doesn’t care. The end, which is
winning, will justify whatever crooked,
illegal means he can muster to get there.
Trump is a very fine exemplar of the
desperation and shameless mendacity of
politicians of whatever stripes and colours.
Remember Candidate Muhammadu Buhari
before the 2015 presidential election. He and
his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC,
made lots of promises that provided great
sound bites but were outrightly outlandish.
Among the ones that stand out is his claim
that subsidy on petroleum products was a
fraud. He said there was absolutely no
justification for the government paying
subsidy. That the whole subsidy ‘hoax’ was
designed to feed the corruption of public
officials and their partners-in-crimes in the
private sector.
His claim was backed by Professor Tam
David-West, his friend and supporter, who
said the pump price of petrol shouldn’t be
more than N45. Then the price was N87
after the Goodluck Jonathan administration
had chopped N10 off of the pump price.
Until just recently, subsidy payment was still
on. The government approved NNPC’s
disingenuous re-invention of the payment as
“cost under-recovery.” That meant the
payment was deducted at source before
revenues accruable to the federation
account were sent.
Before the retirement of the subsidy regime,
it’s estimated that between $15 billion and
$20 billion was expended on it between
2015’and 2020. Except the top echelon of
NNPC’s executive management, nobody
knows the real amount that went into the
payment under the present administration.
That’s because the whole subsidy-payment
regime was so opaque and fraught with
corruption.
Last week, the petrol pump price was
increased from N148 to N161. The public
wasn’t given any prior notification of the
increase. The justification for it is that crude
oil prices have gone up, and so the cost of
imported petroleum products. And since the
government has weaned itself from the
burdensome subsidy payment, we have to
live with the new price. “It’s what it is,” as
Trump said of America’s embarrassing and
indefensible COVID-19 death toll now racing
towards the 200,000 mark.
Subsidy payment was a dumb policy to start
with. And only dumb governments adopt
such policy whose cost-benefits was at best
dubious. The cost to the national treasury
since its adoption over four decades ago has
been horrendous and the economic losses
incalculable. But whether its termination is
permanent remains to be seen.
Another stand-out promise was that he
would create parity between America’s
almighty green back and the naira. He
declared rather magisterially that, “I will
make one naira equal to one dollar.”
He got away with it then so easily because
nobody seriously questioned him about how
he planned to do it. That was when the
whole country was drowning in the Buhari
hysteria and his messianic aura was beyond
reproach.
Today, naira is 430 to the dollar after it
briefly topped 500 as it did in early 2017
following the economic recession that
unfolded just one year into Buhari’s
administration. Compare the rate to what it
was before Buhari: N220 – $1.
On top of the fuel price increase, the
electricity rate was jacked up by over 100
per cent, from N30.23 for kilowatt unit per
hour to N62.23. The rationale behind the
massive increase is cost recovery for all the
players in the epileptic power industry.
It is only in Nigeria that prices go up at once
by 100 percent and the government defends
it with a straight face. Meanwhile, most
households are yet to be metered, as the
extortions through the dubious estimated
billing by the DISCOs continue unabated.
Nigerians are in the grip of a PANDEMIC
caused by the relentless stress of trying to
survive these extremely tough times, with a
federal government that’s completely out of
its depth and a president who is
permanently absent from his job. Prices of
everything are hurtling skyward. Despite the
CBN’s efforts to shore up the naira, it’ll soon
resume its free fall. And the people’s real
incomes – purchasing power – has been
devastated. The large population of
extremely poor Nigerians continues to grow
exponentially.
So now, we all have become “wailing
wailers”. Why are we wailing? Because
we’re suffering and there’s no one to relieve
our burden that’s getting heavier and
heavier every day. And there’s no indication
that tomorrow may be less traumatic. In
fact, the reality is that our already abject
condition will worsen.
The president has been missing in action
right from the first day he became the
landlord of Aso Rock. He continues to fiddle
and doodle while the country is in a slow,
painful meltdown.
In 2014, President Jonathan had warned
about the 2015 general elections: “The choice
before Nigerians in the coming elections is
simple: A choice between going forward or
going backwards; between the new ways
and the old ways; between freedom and
repression; between a record of visible
achievements and beneficial reforms and
desperate power-seekers with empty
promises.”
Duped by the ‘change’ merchants, Nigeria
chose the desperate power-seekers with
empty promises, spurned the new ways for
the old and traded freedom for repression.
That’s why we all are now wailing. But
nobody is listening to our cries of anguish.
And the wind of mass misery blows on.

ELOM VICTOR

Omsnews


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