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THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT January 27, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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28 comments

There is no measure that can bring Dr Jonathan to the league of great Presidents, not at the moment. Beyond the measure of “luck” that has trailed his ascension through political office/public life; there is nothing whatsoever linking him to men young people would crave to have as models. I am not been caustic in my choice of words, these were the same I considered in 2011 before the elections, it made me know “JONATHAN WAS A NO” for me. Has he changed? Has the “lucky” President changed? Has Goodluck finally grown to recognize hard work amongst other virtues as necessary values for being a President?

Despite being Vice President for a couple of years, Acting President for some months and President eventually; one would assume this would be the President most appropriate for Nigeria. His rise to Presidency was acclaimed “AN ACT OF GOD”, “PROVIDENCE” as many fake and real “men” of God poured their libations and invoked their blessings without hesitation. All Nigerians, except few discerning ones, acclaimed and proclaimed Jonathan the expected King. In fact, not only did Mr President boast of a good team; indeed the Former World Bank executive, Madam Iweala is on his team. So why are things going wrong? Worsened by an unprecedented rise to power is a worrisome lethargic response of Mr President to so many issues, chief amongst them the crises-prone issues or emergencies of late.

Careless with words:  Mr President has really shown a lot through the way he talks. ON SUBSIDY- “If I cannot leave good roads and good hospitals for the youth, the least I can do for them is not to leave debt for them” He also declared “I am ready for the people’s revolt”. ON TERRORISM “Terrorism is known the world over, maybe it’s Nigeria’s turn”. He also commented “It’s a burden we all have to bear”. Mr President seem to have a bad league of advisers, or how exactly do they look at him make expensive mistakes in commenting during emergency situations? Can Mr President cope under stress/pressure? Doubtful

Insensitive: Mr President has on many occasions being very slow to respond to dire situations in the country. A President of the most populous black nation in the world should inspire confidence in His people when he speaks. That is not the case of our President. Worse, Dr Jonathan’s way of responding to our issues are not only sluggish but worrisome. It took Mr President 7 hours to respond to the UN building bomb attacks, 5 hours for Madalla; and 24 hours to respond after the Kano bomb attacks. Was he that busy? or as reported to intoxicated to respond to a grieving nation?

Crazy Policies: I believe most of the ideas he rapidly and hastily churn out are sold to him by misleading friends and accolades or bad advisers. In two years, we have had series of panels without anything to show for it, we have had 7 term elongation thrown at us and being speedily thrown back at the President. Recently, we have been deceived with the fuel subsidy game but thank God for the #occupynigeria protest and the subsequent Senate inquiry. The true situation of how the hydra-headed cabal and the adjoining vampires sucking our nation dry are coming to fore.Not all Presidents came to power because they were duly elected. Many American Presidents became President owing to the death of their boss; but they quickly grew into the office. To me, I believe Mr President is not the one in charge. The actions of the past two years has clearly shown it.

Wasteful spending: While removing our only benefit in this bogus government in subsidy, Mr President increased his stake in luxury and enjoyment. Asides creating multiple offices, and increaing the size of government; he luxury enjoyed by this privileged few over millions of impoverished Nigerians is unbelivable. He admonishes us to “endure a little suffering” while he and his cronies enjoy. The show of shame put up by the inconsistent and pompous Minister of Petroleum in the fuel subsidy inquiry too is unbelivable. In socities where things are done properly and in accordance with ethical courtesies, Mrs Madueke should, by now, have steeped down. She is all-in-all, emboldened by her elder brother the President. It amuses me how members of the Executive Council of the President treats Nigeria like their colony, where we – the masses, are mere mortals or ordniary/subdued subjects.

In my little years of being a Nigerian and of becoming aware politically, this is by far the most precarious time to live. We are ruled by an accidental President, supported by a leeching cabal, and aided by hungry set of vampires. Mr President has not come to terms with what is required, he has yet to learn the ropes of leadership.  I hope for the best, and do pray he picks up as soon as he can. It’s all for our good, it’s for Nigeria’s benefit.

God bless Nigeria

God Bless You

follow the writer on twitter @seunfakze

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IMF AND “FUEL SUBSIDY” REMOVAL IN NIGERIA by Izielen Agbon January 22, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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2 comments

“The prices of everything will increase, transport, housing, school fees, food, etc. The common man will not be able to survive. We will say no and oppose bad government policies. We will say no and oppose IMF (International Monetary Fund) policies.” Mrs. Ganiat Fawehinmi, Jan 3, 2012.

Is ‘Fuel Subsidy’ removal an IMF policy? Is Mrs Ganiat Fawehinmi right? Yes. The present ‘Fuel Subsidy’ removal is an IMF program/policy. The IMF has promoted and supported fuel subsidy removal as government policy in most developing nations. It is part and parcel of the IMF liberalization policies and programs which it imposes on developing nations whenever the opportunity arises. Let me explain. I will limit this analysis to the last 10 years (2002-2012) for brevity. I will focus on ‘fuel subsidy’ removal.

“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories…..” Amilcar Carbal . – Unity and Struggle.

IMF working papers and staff position papers are discussion tools for IMF policy formation. They start off with the usual disclaimer that the positions and conclusions in the papers are those of the authors and not of the IMF or its policies. These papers are circulated for discussions within IMF and the World Bank. Sometimes, an IMF executive board workshop or seminar is organized around the ideas expressed in them. These discussions, meetings, seminars and workshops form the foundations of IMF policies. So, all we have to do is find the roots of the fuel subsidy campaign in the past IMF working papers and the subsequent implementation of these policies in developing nations with special attention to Nigeria. I will proceed to do just that.

In 2002, Sanjeev Gupta and a few colleagues in the IMF wrote a working paper on domestic petroleum pricing in oil producing countries. (Gupta, Sanjeev, Benedict Clements, Kevin Fletcher and Gabriela Inchauste, 2002, “Issues in Domestic Petroleum Pricing in Oil Producing Countries”, IMF Working Paper 02/140 , Washington: International Monetary Fund). Sanjeev Gupta is the Deputy Director in the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF. Prior to this, he was the Assistant Director in the African Department. Gupta and his colleagues argued that petroleum product prices were heavily regulated. Domestic petroleum product prices were below international prices and this implied foregone revenue. The foregone revenue constitutes a hidden subsidy for its citizen (price- gap methodology). This hidden subsidy benefited high income more than low income groups. The solution was to pass international prices into the domestic market and increase fuel prices. They therefore recommended the imposition of international prices on the domestic petroleum product market and the removal of fuel subsidies. They advised on how to identify political opponents of the fuel subsidy removal program, how to do a publicity campaign, how to set up a program aimed at using the money generated, how to time the subsidy removal, how to make promises of transport buses, education, health, roads and give money to the poor if necessary,. Their paper is the blueprint of the Fuel subsidy removal program that the FGN is unleashing on Nigerians today…step by step. It is all in the IMF working papers

www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.cfm?sk=15963.0.

Let us look at this economic argument closely. We will leave the FGN and IMF corridors of power and enter the realms of household economics where ordinary Nigerian farmers, workers, students, market women, housewives, unemployed make rational economic decisions. A Nigerian farmer produces yams for household consumption and sales. This price-gap theory might argue that the yams that the farmer uses to feed his household constitute a hidden subsidy because he has forgone revenue or profit by not selling the yams in the market. Transparency demands that the hidden subsidy be acknowledged and recorded in the household budget and family members made to pay market prices for their meals. The theory might further argue that grownups benefit more than children (they eat more). Hence, the household yam subsidies should be removed and special programs (run by a honest uncle) should be put in place to help the children. A publicity program would be needed to explain the yam subsidy removal program to the mother and all other powerful family opponents. I do not need to go much further. Soon, the household members will demand market prices for their labor in the farm (market wages) so they can pay market prices for the yams they eat at home. The wife would demand market wages for the housework. The farmer’s household will collapse. Every rational farmer knows that you first feed the family and it is only the excess that you sell in the market. No amount of Leontief Input-output model, Social Account Matrix (SAM) or Computable General Equilibrium model (CGE) can explain away this basic common sense fact.

Not long after Gupta IMF paper was published, the FGN decided to increase the price of crude supply to the NNPC from $9.50 per barrel to $18 per barrel. International spot oil prices for Bonny Light Crude were $25.15 per barrel. NNPC was now invoiced by the FGN in US $ for domestic crude allocations (445000 barrels of oil per day) and expected to pay the Naira equivalent to the Federation Accounts using CBN quoted exchange rates. This is where and how they created a non-existent subsidy. Since NNPC had no money, it paid the amount received from petroleum product sales minus the subsidy into the Federal Accounts. NNPC sent PPPRA a bill for the subsidy. NNPC then requested the Ministry of Finance to pay the subsidy amount from the PSF into the Federation Account. The FGN was left with this buck passing of a fuel subsidy payment. The IMF was not finished.

In 2003, Shahabuddin Hossain of the IMF African department wrote an IMF working paper on fuel subsidy in Nigeria (Hossain, Shahabuddin Mosherraf , 2003, ”Taxation and Pricing of Petroleum Products in Developing Countries: A framework for Analysis with Application to Nigeria.”, IMF Working Paper 03/42 , Washington: International Monetary Fund). He pushed the same ideas as Gupta with the same arguments. He recommended measures to protect consumption of the poor and politically powerful to stop any strong protest and social unrest after subsidy removal. Using Nigeria as an example, he calculated the fuel subsidy and called for a 115.4% increase in the price of petrol (from N26 to N56 per litre), a 89% increase in the price of diesel and a 37% in the price of Kerosene. He claimed that these were not specific suggestions for policy reforms in Nigeria. Maybe it is just coincidental, but a 115.4% increase of N65 /litre is N140.01/litre.

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=16315.0

A few months after Hossain’s IMF working paper was published, the FGN increased petrol prices from N26 per litre to N55 per litre using some of the arguments in his paper to support the decision.

In 2006, David Coady published another working paper on fuel subsidy removal. ( Coady, David, Moataz El-Said, Robert Gillingham, Kangni Kpodar, Paulo A. Medas, and David Locke, 2006, “The Magnitude and Distribution of Fuel Subsidies: Evidence from Bolivia, Ghana, Jordan, Mali, and Sri Lanka,” IMF Working Paper 06/247, Washington: International Monetary Fund). David Coady is the Deputy Division Chief of the Expenditure Policy Division of the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF. Coady and his colleagues examined the impact of fuel subsidy removal in places like Ghana where there was a decrease of 9.1% in the real income of the poorest quintile after fuel subsidy removal. Ghana’s fuel removal programs included free primary and junior secondary education, health and mass urban transport. Ghana (the Tema Refinery) buys crude oil from Nigeria at a discount on world prices http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=19912.0

The Obasanjo executive increased fuel Prices to N100 per litre when he was leaving office in 2007. The Yar’Adua executive decreased it to N65 per litre in the face of mounting opposition from labor and Nigerian civil society.

David Coady was back in 2007. (Baig, Taimur, Amine Mati, David Coady, and Joseph Ntamatungiro, 2007, “Domestic Petroleum Product Prices and Subsidies: Recent Developments and Reform Strategies,” IMF Working Paper 07/71 Washington, International Monetary Fund). In this paper, the authors developed the strategies for imposing fuel subsidy removal. First, the subsidy is made explicit (NNPC to pay international prices). Secondly, the expenditure is reflected in the budget. This creates a seemingly fiscal budget crisis. Then, a propaganda program is started. The support of State governments and local governments for fuel subsidy removal is obtained by promising to give them their share under revenue sharing formula. A program for the poor is published. Care is taken to get the timing and size of the price increase right in order to minimize social unrest and resistance. A publicity campaign for public trust and political support is unleashed on the populace. The whole strategy is laid out elaborately in this working paper.

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=20608.0

In 2008, the Executive Directors of the IMF held a Seminar on Food and Fuel Price Subsidies: Issues and reform options. The seminar was based on staff papers written by the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF. The papers included Food and Fuel Price Subsidies: Recent Developments, Macroeconomic Impact and Policy Responses and Food and Fuel Price Subsidies: Issues and reform options. The IMF executive directors supported the fuel subsidy removal program and divided responsibility with the World Bank. The IMF would focus on the macro-fiscal impact of subsidies and subsidy removal while the World Bank would assist countries in the design and implementation of subsidy removal programs.

IMF Public Information Notice (PIN) No. 08/135, October 10, 2008

http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pn/2008/pn08135.htm

The IMF and World Bank pushed for adoption of thier fuel subsidy removal policies in the September 2009 G-20 leaders meeting in Pittsburgh, USA. The G-20 supported fuel subsidy removal worldwide. They called on the IEA, OPEC, OECD and World Bank to provide an analysis of the scope of the energy subsidies and suggestions for the implementations of the initiative.

David Coady and his colleagues pushed very hard in 2010 with the same arguments advocating price-gap methodology and fuel subsidy removal programs worldwide. (Coady, David, Robert Gillingham, Rolando Ossowski, John Piotrowski, Shansuddin Tareq and Justin Tyson, 2010, “Petroleum Product Subsidies: Costly, Inequitable, and On the Rise,” IMF Staff Position Note 10/05 Washington, International Monetary Fund) and (Arze del Granado, Javier and Coady, David, 2010, “The Unequal Benefits of Fuel Subsidies: A Review of Evidence for Developing Countries”, IMF Working Paper 10/202 Washington, International Monetary Fund).

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=23584.0

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=24184.0

“ #39. However, it is worth noting that the price –gap methodology has shortcomings. OPEC is of the opinion that the benchmark price to be used in the case of energy resource well-endowed countries should be the cost of production. Consequently, OPEC could not associate itself with the above estimation of fossil fuel related consumption subsidies.”

OPEC/IEA/OPEC/OECD/WB Joint Report, June 2010

The report prepared by the IEA, OPEC, OECD and World Bank was released in June 2010. (IEA, OPEC, OECD, World Bank Joint Report, “Analysis of the Scope of Energy Subsidies and Suggestions for the G-20 Initiative”, Prepared for submission to the G-20 Summit Meeting, Toronto, Canada, 26-27 June 2010, June 16, 2010). OPEC rejected the price-gap methodology of the IMF, World Bank and IEA . OPEC insisted that fuel prices should be calculated on the basis of the cost of production in oil producing nations. Nigeria is an OPEC member and petrol prices calculated on the basis of the cost of production is N39.30 a litre.

In 2011, the Ministry of Finance carried out a review of the economy based on the IMF price-gap methodology. The FGN insisted that the fuel subsidies must be passed on to the consumers. It advocated fuel subsidy removal and the implementation of the IMF plan. It carried out the IMF inspired publicity to the best of its ability. It involved the NNPC, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the State Governors (revenue sharing) and other arms of government as planned by the IMF. It even prepared a list of projects called Subsidy Reinvestment and Expenditure Program (SURE) as advised by the IMF and published it. It set up a committee to disburse funds. It did everything according to the IMF play book. It talked to labor and some opinion leaders in civil society. But, Nigerians did not accept the arguments or fuel subsidy removal program. So, the FGN forgot the Nigeria people and imposed the fuel subsidy removal program as a New Year gift. We have gone into details to show the IMF roots of the fuel subsidy removal policy and program in Nigeria because we, as a people, deserve the truth. Knowledge is power. We mask no difficulties and claim no easy victories. Victory is certain when we stay firm and resolved.

Izielen Agbon

Izielenagbon @yahoo.com

YOU LAZY (INTELLECTUAL) AFRICAN SCUM by Field Ruwe January 22, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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This piece is reportedly written by Mind of Malaka. I got it via an email sent to me. Please read!

They call the Third World the lazy man’s purview; the sluggishly slothful and languorous prefecture. In this realm people are sleepy, dreamy, torpid, lethargic, and therefore indigent—totally penniless, needy, destitute, poverty-stricken, disfavored, and impoverished. In this demesne, as they call it, there are hardly any discoveries, inventions, and innovations. Africa is the trailblazer. Some still call it “the dark continent” for the light that flickers under the tunnel is not that of hope, but an approaching train. And because countless keep waiting in the way of the train, millions die and many more remain decapitated by the day.

“It’s amazing how you all sit there and watch yourselves die,” the man next to me said. “Get up and do something about it.”

Brawny, fully bald-headed, with intense, steely eyes, he was as cold as they come. When I first discovered I was going to spend my New Year’s Eve next to him on a non-stop JetBlue flight from Los Angeles to Boston I was angst-ridden. I associate marble-shaven Caucasians with iconoclastic skin-heads, most of who are racist.

“My name is Walter,” he extended his hand as soon as I settled in my seat.

I told him mine with a precautious smile.

“Where are you from?” he asked.

“Zambia.”

“Zambia!” he exclaimed, “Kaunda’s country.”

“Yes,” I said, “Now Sata’s.”

“But of course,” he responded. “You just elected King Cobra as your president.”

My face lit up at the mention of Sata’s moniker. Walter smiled, and in those cold eyes I saw an amenable fellow, one of those American highbrows who shuttle between Africa and the U.S.

“I spent three years in Zambia in the 1980s,” he continued. “I wined and dined with Luke Mwananshiku, Willa Mungomba, Dr. Siteke Mwale, and many other highly intelligent Zambians.” He lowered his voice. “I was part of the IMF group that came to rip you guys off.” He smirked. “Your government put me in a million dollar mansion overlooking a shanty called Kalingalinga. From my patio I saw it all—the rich and the poor, the ailing, the dead, and the healthy.”

“Are you still with the IMF?” I asked.

“I have since moved to yet another group with similar intentions. In the next few months my colleagues and I will be in Lusaka to hypnotize the cobra. I work for the broker that has acquired a chunk of your debt. Your government owes not the World Bank, but us millions of dollars. We’ll be in Lusaka to offer your president a couple of millions and fly back with a check twenty times greater.”

“No, you won’t,” I said. “King Cobra is incorruptible. He is …”

He was laughing. “Says who? Give me an African president, just one, who has not fallen for the carrot and stick.”

Quett Masire’s name popped up.

“Oh, him, well, we never got to him because he turned down the IMF and the World Bank. It was perhaps the smartest thing for him to do.”

At midnight we were airborne. The captain wished us a happy 2012 and urged us to watch the fireworks across Los Angeles.

“Isn’t that beautiful,” Walter said looking down.

From my middle seat, I took a glance and nodded admirably.

“That’s white man’s country,” he said. “We came here on Mayflower and turned Indian land into a paradise and now the most powerful nation on earth. We discovered the bulb, and built this aircraft to fly us to pleasure resorts like Lake Zambia.”

I grinned. “There is no Lake Zambia.”

He curled his lips into a smug smile. “That’s what we call your country. You guys are as stagnant as the water in the lake. We come in with our large boats and fish your minerals and your wildlife and leave morsels—crumbs. That’s your staple food, crumbs. That corn-meal you eat, that’s crumbs, the small Tilapia fish you call Kapenta is crumbs. We the Bwanas (whites) take the cat fish. I am the Bwana and you are the Muntu. I get what I want and you get what you deserve, crumbs. That’s what lazy people get—Zambians, Africans, the entire Third World.”

The smile vanished from my face.

“I see you are getting pissed off,” Walter said and lowered his voice. “You are thinking this Bwana is a racist. That’s how most Zambians respond when I tell them the truth. They go ballistic. Okay. Let’s for a moment put our skin pigmentations, this black and white crap, aside. Tell me, my friend, what is the difference between you and me?”

“There’s no difference.”

“Absolutely none,” he exclaimed. “Scientists in the Human Genome Project have proved that. It took them thirteen years to determine the complete sequence of the three billion DNA subunits. After they

were all done it was clear that 99.9% nucleotide bases were exactly the same in you and me. We are the same people. All white, Asian, Latino, and black people on this aircraft are the same.”

I gladly nodded.

“And yet I feel superior,” he smiled fatalistically. “Every white person on this plane feels superior to a black person. The white guy who picks up garbage, the homeless white trash on drugs, feels superior to you no matter his status or education. I can pick up a nincompoop from the New York streets, clean him up, and take him to Lusaka and you all be crowding around him chanting muzungu, muzungu and yet he’s a riffraff. Tell me why my angry friend.”

For a moment I was wordless.

“Please don’t blame it on slavery like the African Americans do, or colonialism, or some psychological impact or some kind of stigmatization. And don’t give me the brainwash poppycock. Give me a better answer.”

I was thinking.

He continued. “Excuse what I am about to say. Please do not take offense.”

I felt a slap of blood rush to my head and prepared for the worst.

“You my friend flying with me and all your kind are lazy,” he said. “When you rest your head on the pillow you don’t dream big. You and other so-called African intellectuals are damn lazy, each one of you. It is you, and not those poor starving people, who is the reason Africa is in such a deplorable state.”

“That’s not a nice thing to say,” I protested.

He was implacable. “Oh yes it is and I will say it again, you are lazy. Poor and uneducated Africans are the most hardworking people on earth. I saw them in the Lusaka markets and on the street selling merchandise. I saw them in villages toiling away. I saw women on Kafue Road crushing stones for sell and I wept. I said to myself where are the Zambian intellectuals? Are the Zambian engineers so imperceptive they cannot invent a simple stone crusher, or a simple water filter to purify well water for those poor villagers? Are you telling me that after thirty-seven years of independence your university school of engineering has not produced a scientist or an engineer who can make simple small machines for mass use? What is the school there for?”

I held my breath.

“Do you know where I found your intellectuals? They were in bars quaffing. They were at the Lusaka Golf Club, Lusaka Central Club, Lusaka Playhouse, and Lusaka Flying Club. I saw with my own eyes a bunch of alcoholic graduates. Zambian intellectuals work from eight to five and spend the evening drinking. We don’t. We reserve the evening for brainstorming.”

He looked me in the eye.

“And you flying to Boston and all of you Zambians in the Diaspora are just as lazy and apathetic to your country. You don’t care about your country and yet your very own parents, brothers and sisters are in Mtendere, Chawama, and in villages, all of them living in squalor. Many have died or are dying of neglect by you. They are dying of AIDS because you cannot come up with your own cure. You are here calling yourselves graduates, researchers and scientists and are fast at articulating your credentials once asked—oh, I have a PhD in this and that—PhD my foot!”

I was deflated.

“Wake up you all!” he exclaimed, attracting the attention of nearby passengers. “You should be busy lifting ideas, formulae, recipes, and diagrams from American manufacturing factories and sending them to your own factories. All those research findings and dissertation papers you compile should be your country’s treasure. Why do you think the Asians are a force to reckon with? They stole our ideas and turned them into their own. Look at Japan, China, India, just look at them.”

He paused. “The Bwana has spoken,” he said and grinned. “As long as you are dependent on my plane, I shall feel superior and you my friend shall remain inferior, how about that? The Chinese, Japanese, Indians, even Latinos are a notch better. You Africans are at the bottom of the totem pole.”

He tempered his voice. “Get over this white skin syndrome and begin to feel confident. Become innovative and make your own stuff for god’s sake.”

At 8 a.m. the plane touched down at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Walter reached for my hand.

“I know I was too strong, but I don’t give it a damn. I have been to Zambia and have seen too much poverty.” He pulled out a piece of paper and scribbled something. “Here, read this. It was written by a friend.”

He had written only the title: “Lords of Poverty.”

Thunderstruck, I had a sinking feeling. I watched Walter walk through the airport doors to a waiting car. He had left a huge dust devil twirling in my mind, stirring up sad memories of home. I could see Zambia’s literati—the cognoscente, intelligentsia, academics, highbrows, and scholars in the places he had mentioned guzzling and talking irrelevancies. I remembered some who have since passed—how they got the highest grades in mathematics and the sciences and attained the highest education on the planet. They had been to Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), only to leave us with not a single invention or discovery. I knew some by name and drunk with them at the Lusaka Playhouse and Central Sports.

Walter is right. It is true that since independence we have failed to nurture creativity and collective orientations. We as a nation lack a workhorse mentality and behave like 13 million civil servants dependent on a government pay cheque. We believe that development is generated 8-to-5 behind a desk wearing a tie with our degrees hanging on the wall. Such a working environment does not offer the opportunity for fellowship, the excitement of competition, and the spectacle of innovative rituals.

But the intelligentsia is not solely, or even mainly, to blame. The larger failure is due to political circumstances over which they have had little control. The past governments failed to create an environment of possibility that fosters camaraderie, rewards innovative ideas and encourages resilience. KK, Chiluba, Mwanawasa, and Banda embraced orthodox ideas and therefore failed to offer many opportunities for drawing outside the line.

I believe King Cobra’s reset has been cast in the same faculties as those of his predecessors. If today I told him that we can build our own car, he would throw me out.

“Naupena? Fuma apa.” (Are you mad? Get out of here)

Knowing well that King Cobra will not embody innovation at Walter’s level let’s begin to look for a technologically active-positive leader who can succeed him after a term or two. That way we can make our own stone crushers, water filters, water pumps, razor blades, and harvesters. Let’s dream big and make tractors, cars, and planes, or, like Walter said, forever remain inferior.

A fundamental transformation of our country from what is essentially non-innovative to a strategic superior African country requires a bold risk-taking educated leader with a triumphalist attitude and we have one in YOU. Don’t be highly strung and feel insulted by Walter. Take a moment and think about our country. Our journey from 1964 has been marked by tears. It has been an emotionally overwhelming experience. Each one of us has lost a loved one to poverty, hunger, and disease. The number of graves is catching up with the population. It’s time to change our political culture. It’s time for Zambian intellectuals to cultivate an active-positive progressive movement that will change our lives forever. Don’t be afraid or dispirited, rise to the challenge and salvage the remaining few of your beloved ones.

Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner and author. He is a PhD candidate with a B.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism, and an M.A. in History

A NATION IN PAINS January 22, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: , , , ,
2 comments

There comes moments in one’s life when one goes through a flurry of emotions: disgusted, depressed, angry, sad, frustrated, etc. 20th January was one of such days. A beautiful day which started well ended with many innocent deaths. The dreaded BOKO HARAM group of Nigeria struck, albeit with an heavy blow. As if that was not enough, they struck again in Bauchi, killing 11 people. It is impossible to look back on these days of immense bloodshed and loss of lives and still maintain a happy face.

The attack on Kano, with careful and considerable planned sophistication, has never before crippled our nation catching all of us unawares, distraught and angry at the same time. As at now, over 200 people reportedly died in the attacks on Kano on Friday. The nation is in pains, families are in pains, I am in pains. We have a big war to fight; the defense of a united Nigeria by all and sundry.

This is War, for when an individual or a group of aggrieved persons decides to hold an entire nation to ransom, it is no more business as usual. Does our government know this? Does our government understand what to do? Is Dr Jonathan still in charge? Why did it take him over 24 hours to console distraught families this time? (UN building response was 7 hours as Madalla was 5 hours). Does Mr President really care about us?

What has government done in time past to prevent attacks? What will it do right this time? Have they forgotten they swore to “act in the interest of our welfare and security?” what has the huge allocation to security gotten us? Less attacks? Less deaths? No one from the league of Ministers and the Governors Forum spoke or came out publicly to decry the killings after the bomb blasts despite doing so vehemently to defend subsidy removal. Is our life not important to them?

Are we safe? Is this a country? Where are our intelligence networks? Where is Intelligence gathering? Nigeria is regarded as a third world nation, lying in the zone of many of the worlds most backward nations. Will we remain this way forever? I am scared about the dimension these killings are taking. This must be checked. The government should wake up to his duties. Mr President must be reminded of his obligation by all means possible:petitions or protests.

We cannot pay for a selfish and insensitive leadership at our own peril. Nigerians die needlessly each day and these government is lounging. For a civil servant Earning the minimum wage of N18,000; it will take 12 years 7 months to earn the daily feeding allowance of Mr President. It’s part of the luxury he enjoys! Does it honestly really matter to the president and his team if we perish so long as they are not affected?

We are in pains! And what is there not to be in pains about? The deaths are appealing, and what’s worse, the government is looking. No life is worthy of an unnecessary death. I appeal to my friends and fellow citizens to be extra careful and sensitive as they go about their businesses and endeavors. Should the government continue like this, it would not take long before an uprising. Where are the Security votes? What’s wrong with us in this country?

We cannot continue like this. Rather than patting these security inefficient chiefs at the back, Mr President should get them sacked and get them out. The funds allocated to security outfits should be monitored, doctored and utilized effectively. Our forces are not well equipped so how will they tackle crime effectively? We cannot afford the loss of lives in Nigeria ceaselessly. We are all we have. Mr President should do something before we descend fully into anarchy. Nigeria is in Pains.

God Bless Nigeria.

Follow the writer on twitter @seunfakze

Budget 2012 – Broke Country, Expensive Leaders By Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai January 20, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in POLITICS.
Tags: , , , ,
2 comments

The attempt by President Jonathan to withdraw the ‘fuel subsidy’ largely to raise revenues for a wasteful government united Nigerians across ethnic, religious and social strata for over a week. One of the unintended consequences of the administration’s unilateral action was bringing to the front-burner questions about the size of government, the excessive cost of governance, and the fraud and corruption in the oil sector. Nigerians now know that their president would rather impose an overnight tax on them than undertake an orderly deregulation of the petroleum sector. They also know the difference between an isolated fuel price hike (for immediate revenue) and the policy review-legislation-independent regulation-competitive markets path that was implemented in the telecoms sector deregulation between 2000 and 2001. Nigeria will be the better for it, as we are now unanimous on seeing that some of the spending items like the near N1 billion for food in the Villa are justified and put in context.

For this reason, over the ensuing weeks, this column will undertake a detailed sectoral analysis of the 2012 budget proposal submitted by the President to the National Assembly in December 2011. Our objective is to enlighten all stakeholders on the provisions contained in the budget and suggest areas to reduce waste, question spending priorities and cut out what appears dysfunctional. Our hope is that the National Assembly will in the end make the budget work for the people of Nigeria. Today, we will look at the revenues profile for 2012 and issues arising there-from, and then throw a searchlight on the much-headlined expenditure for the security sector. Details of the budget are available online on http://tbudgetoffice.gov.ng/2012_budget_proposal.html or if for any reason unavailable, http://el-rufai.org/2012/01/full-access-to-2012-budget-proposal/

The federation expects to generate about N9.4 trillion in revenues in 2012, consisting of about N6.4 trillion from oil and gas, N2.7 trillion from personal income and company taxes, custom duties, and value-added tax. Another N250 billion is expected from special levies and taxes like the Education Tax. Out of this total, the Federal Government share amounts to about N3.6 trillion. This is because the FGN gets about 48.5% of the oil and non-oil revenues and taxes, about 14% of VAT and gets to keep all of its independent revenue. Omitted from the budget is an additional 7.5% of the total – special funds that include the ecological fund, the Federal Capital Territory and mineral resources fund. Also omitted is how much is deducted from the gross oil revenue as our contribution to the Joint Venture Cash Calls. All these need to be detailed out for the National Assembly to do its constitutional duty and ensure accountability, but they are missing from both the Budget and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework for 2012-2015.

Starting with projected revenue of about N3.6 trillion, the budget envisages a total spend of N4.7 trillion, meaning that we intend to spend about N1.1 trillion more than we expect to earn this year. Where is the extra cash coming from? It is not from ‘fuel subsidy’. The 2012 budget already assumed that not a penny will be deducted to subsidize petrol. The FGN hopes to finance the deficit by borrowing some N794 billion this year, and get some windfall from privatization (N10 billion), signature bonus (N75 billion) and the now-depleted excess crude account (N225 billion). No provision has been made in the Budget to transfer any amounts to the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Once again, these are items that need to be detailed for us as citizens to know, and for the National Assembly to decide upon.

What are the implications of these pieces of information? How does the plan to borrow an additional N794 billion sit with the administration’s desire to “reduce” our borrowing from the current levels nearing 20% of GDP? What does the projected medium term expenditure framework reveal about our revenue and spending patterns? Are these consistent with the desire of Nigerians to see a smaller, less expensive and more efficient federal government? We ask our readers to bear these in mind as they reflect on the numbers presented herein.
We should also note that with the ‘fuel subsidy’ not fully gone, the FGN’s assumption of zero-subsidy-deduction is off the table, and the hole in the budget will increase by at least half of the ‘expected N400+ billion’ to N1.3 trillion, so further borrowing is necessary to fund this gap. And as I wrote last week, there is not a single kobo anywhere for the so-called SURE-P programme unless the National Assembly raises the benchmark price of crude oil by at least another $20 with the risks attendant to that.

Looking closely at the spending proposals, commendable efforts have been made to reduce the level of statutory transfers to INEC, UBEC, NDDC and the National Judicial Council. Sadly, the transfer to the National Assembly remains at the 2011 level of N150 billion. Unless this is reduced, we will spend an average of N320 million per legislator in 2012 at a time when Nigerians are clearly disgusted at the very high quarterly allowances they draw, over and above what the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission has approved for them. The National Assembly should listen to the voice of Nigerians and reduce this provision substantially. The provision for the salaries and allowances of public servants has risen by about N150 billion from the 2011 levels to N1.655 trillion. This increase cannot be due to the usual annual salary increment. There is something more and it contradicts the stated goal of the administration to reduce the cost of governance. The National Assembly should scrutinize this more closely with a very sharp knife!

Other items of expenditure that need closer review are the overheads – the N11 billion for international travel, more than N30 billion for “research and development”, maintenance of vehicles, furniture, etc., over N20 billion, stationery, magazines and newspapers at over N5 billion, and nearly N17 billion (more than $110 million) to purchase yet another plane for the president, at a time when we are being asked to sacrifice and pay more for petrol, transportation, food and rent. There are other items we will highlight in each sector but these broad areas are indicative for the time being of the need for close scrutiny by the citizens and the National Assembly.
We will now briefly look at the provisions for the security sector. The president announced that the sector got allocated some N922 billion for 2011. This number is the sum of the budgetary allocations of the ministries of defence, police affairs, and Interior plus Police Commands and Formations and the Intelligence Community (NSA’s office). The president forgot to add the following – (1) Amnesty Programme (N74 billion), (2) Military Pensions N60 billion, (3) Army Internal Operations (N17 billion), (5) Police Service Commission (N2.5bn), (6) Customs, Immigration & Pensions (N8.6bn), (7) SSS/NIA Pensions (N11.2bn), (9) Death Benefits – Army & Police (N5.4bn), (10) Federal Road Safety Commission (N28.9bn), (11) Maritime Security (N4bn) and Police Reform Fund (N15bn). Adding all these up brings the total of our spending on the security sector to N1.145 trillion, not the N922bn highlighted. The equivalent tally for 2011 was N1.174 trillion, about N30 billion higher than this year.

We will begin the analysis of the security sector with the budget of the Intelligence Community – the office of the NSA, the SSS (Internal Security), the National Intelligence Agency (External Counter-Intelligence) and the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF). The budget of the Defence Intelligence Agency and Directorate of Military Intelligence are under the Ministry of Defence, and are therefore excluded.

It is worth noting that the NSA is one of the 20 special advisers approved by the National Assembly for the president, but he sits in the Federal Executive Council as a member. His office is an advisory office and his main job is coordinating the activities of the security agencies, with staff strength of about 100. Each agency is independent of the NSA and routinely reports directly to the president. It is therefore difficult to explain how the NSA has the highest budget of all in the intelligence community- higher than that of the SSS with about 15,000 staff and the smaller but far more effective, NIA. The NSA’s budget consists of N212 million for personnel cost, N3.64 billion for overheads and a whopping N33 billion for capital projects! The respective proposals for the SSS are N17bn, N5bn and a paltry N1.8bn! No wonder the SSS is handicapped in dealing with security threats within our borders! The NIA is not much better with N19.7bn for staff costs, N3.9bn for overheads and N2.6bn for cap[ital projects.

A cursory look at the NSA’s capital projects is even more revealing. Over N1.1bn will be spent on satellite communications, over N3.5bn on something called “data signal centre/equipment” and N717 million for Iridium/Thuraya Communication platform. I thought that Iridium went out of business nearly a decade ago, and Thuraya is an insecure form of communication used mainly by global companies to connect far-flung personnel. Are our agencies using this for secure communications in the 21st century? I wondered about that until I saw the provision of N78 million for a presidential communications network and N27bn for the establishment of a “strategic operations centre”. We all hope that the most advanced technologies will be adopted in deploying these – and certainly not low-earth orbit satellite systems like the defunct Iridium!

The Presidential Air Fleet is under the NSA’s office. Apart from modest provisions of N15.6 million for personnel costs, N969 million for overheads (spares, checks, and aviation fuel can be expensive!), there is a provision of N16.8bn ($110 million) for a brand new plane for the presidency. This is quite an expensive plane because a fully-equipped high-end Gulfstream 5 can be acquired brand new for between $40-50 million. The plane type and specifications were not mentioned in the budget, and these should interest the citizens of Nigeria and the National Assembly.

Within the budget of the State House is a proposal to buy two brand new, bullet-proof Mercedes Benz 600E cars for the presidency at about $1 million each. I guess since our two topmen are getting new cars, it makes sense for them to have an additional new aircraft as well – but in a year in which we are living above our means, spending at least N1.1 trillion we do not have, and borrowing N794 billion to make ends meet? We are broke as a nation, we now know. We will collapse if the fuel subsidy is not withdrawn, according to our president. Are our leaders not too expensive? Are they sensitive to our cries for improved electricity, affordable transportation and jobs for our youths? The ball is in the court of the National Assembly to restructure this budget.`

Nasir Ahmad Elrufai

DISCOURSE WITH PROF Jeffrey Sachs (@JeffDSachs) January 15, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in EDUCATION.
Tags: , , , , ,
5 comments

I had some interesting conversations with Prof Jeff Sachs. Therein, he explained and apologised for being misunderstood on the fuel subsidy issue in Nigeria. Prof Jerry Sachs is Economist, Professor, Director of the EarthInstitute, Columbia University and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General. Author of The Price of Civilization.

I thought I should share with you. Enjoy!

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs nigeria is in a different league with Ghana. We can’t even compare. The only similarity they share is the West Africa bond. Nigeria needs to look INWARDS more to attend to its issues.It keeps looking at western formula/derivative to address its issues

@JeffDSachs: @seunfakze  Nigeria’s scale (6X Ghana pop) makes things vastly more complex. Nigeria needs functioning federalism; doesn’t have it yet.

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs Nigeria needs to look INWARDS more to attend to its issues.It keeps looking at western formula/derivative to address its issues.

@JeffDSachs: @seunfakze Yes, Nigeria needs own solutions but not so different from Asia or West: educ, health, infras, anti-corruption, honesty.

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs and the western powers too aren’t helping. Our illicit capital fund transfer shouldn’t be accepted in Europe too. #cutgovtwaste

@JeffDSachs: @seunfakze Agreed. There is massive corruption in both US and Europe. See Shaxson Treasure Islands, or my book, Price of Civilization.

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs there is corruption in US & Europe agreed, but their constitution & judiciary works to a large extent. exist only in papers here.

@JeffDSachs: @seunfakze Yes, Nigeria’s institutions are much weaker, which is huge problem in a country of 155 million! Nigeria needs capable local gov.

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs our local govt heads mostly are filled with men who scarcely finished basic secondary education. We have a huge problem

@JeffDSachs@seunfakze I wish the universities could play a more constructive role, perhaps chairing commissions on key issues?

@ohaniydof: @JeffDSachs @seunfakze Yes the Universities should be more involved , but the political class has emasculated them through poor funding!

@JeffDSachs: @ohanyidof @seunfakze I’ve noticed how the politicians barely care about the universities. Sad and costly for Nigeria!

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs when societies, nations flout constitutional laws, there is puns to be anarchy. Ours isn’t only flouted, it is faulty in writing

@JeffDSachs: @seunfakze Key is internal but there’s lots of wisdom around the world to help. ALL societies (mine too!) need help from outside and in.

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs that’s why I accept Africa needs to sit down too and solve its own issues.Those who claim to help fight corruption are complicit.

@JeffDSachs: @seunfakze Do you think some of the governors are reform minded?

@MarufLawal:  @JeffDSachs @seunfakze the governors are the most useless!

@JeffDSachs: @MarufLawal @seunfakze All of them???

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs do Governors abroad collect what is termed a SECURITY VOTE— an ambiguous some of money that isn’t accounted for? Pray tell

@JeffDSachs@seunfakze Never heard of it. 😦

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs that partly explains the problem. Mainly clueless visionless leadership in Nigeria. Informed, prudent and wise leadership will

@JeffDSachs: @seunfakze How about Nigeria’s leading intellectuals helping to: (1) mediate crisis; and (2) recommend governance reforms?

@rotexonline: @seunfakze @JeffDSachs. We’ve seen enough docs that were never implemented. NEEDS 1 and 2, Vision2020 and now SURE.

@JeffDSachs: @rotexonline @seunfakze Yes, I know. The point is not really a document or plan, but a process involving oversight and accountability.

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs if leaders #cutgovtwaste alone, we wouldn’t be I’m this crises. Asides, we aren’t sure if truly subsidy exist. Its a dilemma! what you are witnessing in the revolts are frustrations in govt policies and the distrust of the people in their promises

@JeffDSachs: @seunfakze The budget depends excessively on oil. Nigeria also needs taxation, federal and local. Rich should pay on property and income.

@OKShorty1: @JeffDSachs @tolasol @seunfakze A lot of people understand your endorsement of the fuel subsidy removal as a silver bullet.

@JeffDSachs:  @OKShorty1 @tolasol @seunfakze Yikes. The opposite of what I believe. There’s no silver bullet. Need anti-corruption, tax rich, investment

@tolasol: @JeffDSachs If indeed so ‘vastly complex’, why do you keep simplifying them viz Subsidy=Bad? Where is your context?! @OKShorty1 @seunfakze

@JeffDSachs@tolasol @OKShorty1 @seunfakze I’m sorry that I’ve been misinterpreted. It’s hard to be heard accurately in this noisy world!

@gbolly10banks: @JeffDSachs @nkemifejika @tolasol @OKShorty1 @seunfakze mr jeff I think even in a noisy world when the truth is spoken its always loud

@JeffDSachs: @gbolly10banks @nkemifejika @tolasol @OKShorty1 @seunfakze I agree. Still, soundbites are hard and misleading. I’ll try to do better.

@OKShorty1: @JeffDSachs @tolasol @seunfakze The FG is using your comment as an endorsement by the UN. I think you need to clarify a bit more.

@JeffDSachs: @OKShorty1 @tolasol @seunfakze That was already clarified. My brief statement (misleading as it was . . . ) was my own, not UN.

@HaywhyJiggy:  @JeffDSachs @seunfakze I work as a tax advisor & I know that the Inland Revenue Service generates trillions of Naira annually. All wasted!

@JeffDSachs: @HaywhyJiggy @seunfakze Do rich pay taxes in Nigeria? My impression is that tax evasion is rampant. I don’t even see income tax revenues.

@rmajayi: Do you have an aide tweeting for you too, sir? || RT @JeffDSachs@tolasol @OKShorty1@seunfakze I’m sorry that I’ve been misinterpreted.

@JeffDSachs: @rmajayi @tolasol @OKShorty1@seunfakze No, it’s me tweeting. All mistakes are mine!

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs @rmajayi @tolasol @OKShorty1 aceepting your wrong and admitting your flaws are virtues our leaders lack. Thanks for clarifying

@JeffDSachs: @seunfakze @rmajayi @tolasol@OKShorty1 I’m learning, and always trying to learn. Thanks for the vital information.

@tolasol: @JeffDSachs @seunfakze @rmajayi@OKShorty1. *Group Hug :D*

@Illesanmibrillow: Obviously, you don’t mean Nigerian Universities! RT @seunfakze: RT @JeffDSachs@seunfakzeI wish the universities … http://m.tmi.me/kELZg

@JeffDSachs:  @Ilesanmibrillow @seunfakze I mean that Nigeria’s universities need a renaissance also with some real development undertakings.

@seunfakze: @JeffDSachs prof, are you honestly surprised most of our leaders don’t have proper formal education? At least majority of Local govt heads

@JeffDSachs: @seunfakze Not surprised, per se, but looking for ways for Nigeria to progress rapidly in view of conditions. Smarter systems are needed.

@AmutaMe: @JeffDSachs u hv access to Nigerian leadership, u’d ve advocated a fix of corruption, let govt earn pple’s trust before subsidy @seunfakze

@JeffDSachs@AmutaMe @seunfakze I of course had no idea about the subsidy removal till it happened. I’m not in regular contact on macro policy.

@palavarjoe: @JeffDSachs @AmutaMe @seunfakze But you know “intimate” details of SURE prog which you’ve pointed me to! I dont blive u#occupynigeria

@JeffDSachs: @palavarjoe @AmutaMe@seunfakze I see plainly the complete absence of trust and reasons for it. Gov needs civil society more than ever.

@AmutaMe: @JeffDSachs @palavarjoe @seunfakze Nigerians becam agrieved wiv ur support 4 d subsidy w\o undstandin d issues we want govt to first address

@JeffDSachs: @AmutaMe @palavarjoe@seunfakze I spoke too fast and in shorthand. I know how complicated situation is and I’ve learned more from you

God Bless Nigeria

Follow on twitter @seunfakze

THE UNCHECKED EROSION January 14, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, EDUCATION, POLITICS.
Tags: , , , ,
5 comments

Our Public leaders should refrain from asking us to make sacrifices when they themselves enjoy the luxury with which we provide. Nigeria is an incredible nation where we pay our leaders, feed them, clothe them, provide security and other things for them. In return, they rape us, slap us, and abuse us. Which other country has provided what we do at all levels/tiers of government and yet looks at the people with disdain? What country treats its people with so much contempt than Nigeria? It’s this same government that has asked us to suffer more for their reckless wasteful living.

The #occupynigeria protest which started spontaneously across Nigerian states from 3rd January, triggered by the careless and deceitful act of government to remove fuel subsidy brought about several issues to fore. Fuel subsidy was the main issue that brought about most of the people thronging the streets, however, it was frustration at the disdainful way the government has treated its people, most importantly like subjects; the Distrust of government and public leaders, the huge waste expended by government, the bogus size of government, amongst others that prompted the people into action. How can wasteful Nigerian leaders expect us to trust them with more money? I will briefly highlight some of this. I do hope we do not forget these issues in our deliberations.

EXECUTIVE– What an outrage it was when I went through the budget, discovering for instance what accrues to the President of Nigeria. The article THE POPULAR WILL by Nasir Elrufai puts most of this in good view. Please endeavour to go through it. The President of Nigeria has not declared a formal salary nor has it come out with its fringe benefits and allowances, but the Budget on careful scrutiny explains the wasteful spending and luxury enjoyed by the President. The US President reportedly earns a meager $400,000 which when compared to Dr Jonathan’s salary is a paltry sum of money. Our President lives like a King while his people are mere subjects. It’s this same President that  removed the only benefit that gets to the common Nigerian.

LEGISLATURE Mustapha Dawaki,  a House Of Representative member at the Federal level for the first time openly admitted how much lawmakers basic take-home pay was during a live interview with Channels TV, a Nigerian Television station. He admitted it as N435,000 which included housing and transport. If this is true or not, one cannot confirm. No official document in the Nigerian media shows what goes to our Senators, Honourables and all sorts. At least, most aren’t opened to the public. What is however certain is that the fringe benefits and the allocations are where all the waste and bogus spending comes from? Why are Nigerians not told how much lawmakers earn? why is it a shoddy business? Why arent they transparent or accountable to the people?

STATE GOVERNORS What about the State Governors? Prof Pat Utomi appropriately called them EMPERORS. Our governors rule our land as Emperors, possessing so much power and will to cause change yet doing little. My greatest concern, asides the humongous share that comes to them from the Federal Government is the Security Vote (an unaccounted-for vote in Nigeria)It is on record that no Governor in the US has what is tagged the security vote. We copied the US democratic setting and sufficiently abused it.

The LOCAL GOVERNMENT: It is on record that Local governments represent the safest way for money siphoning into personal/cronies account since most of them don’t go through scrutiny. I know these Chairmen collect at least N100m monthly unless they are robbed at state levels of this. What has changed with these provisions? What has the LG Chairman in your locality done with this fund? The Local Government Chairman, in conjuction with the councillors make a whole lot of money, unchecked, unrestrained, and undeterred. This has to stop.

There are several loopholes to fix in Nigeria. It is essential though to exert pressure on the legislature, cut down their spending to a reasonable sum. If we do this, Legislative arm of government will scrutinize government spending the more. Hon. Mustapha Dawaki recently asked why the budget for the kitchen at the Presidency should be that high! “Are the utensils made of diamond?” he asked. Nigeria indeed can grow stronger with committed leaders at its helm, prudent, wise and efficient managers of public resources. The whole and absolute essence of our struggle is to ensure we have good governance at all levels. Anything short of this is unacceptable.

We have started a move through the #occupynigeria platform to tell the government about good governance. We must not fail in this regard. Above all, we must pursue the objective, GOOD GOVERNANCE, to a logical conclusion. Remember, the labours of fallen heroes across Nigeria since this protest must not go in vain. We count on you to deliver their messages. We count on you to hold government responsible, to make them accountable. It’s about time.

God Bless Nigeria.

Follow the writer on twitter @seunfakze

THE POPULAR WILL by Nasir Elrufai January 13, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: , , , , ,
30 comments

Any discerning reader that is familiar with this column will have by now been able to see a common thread that runs through this column in the past 30 weeks or so. This week’s column must of necessity be on a subject of popular will with respect to the political turmoil with which the country is currently bedeviled. Let me first commend and salute the people of Nigeria – young, old, middle aged, labour, civil society, employed, unemployed, market women, and youths for summoning the courage to do that which is perhaps unprecedented in the struggle to make Nigeria better and greater during our lifetime. It was only a few weeks ago that President Jonathan dared Nigerians by publicly boasting that he was ready to confront mass revolt rather than defer the removal of subsidy on petrol. It is self evident that no well meaning government would affront us all that way when the foundation for the legitimacy for governance derives from the people. It was George Bernard Shaw that aptly stated that “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Most people only know this much about this popular quotation but for those who are able to dig deeper, the above represents, at best, only half of the full quotation which ends with “Except for those who learn from lessons of history” and is read in conjunction with the first part of the quotation. Thus President Jonathan would not have allowed power to get to his head if he had learned anything from the lessons of history. Some have argued that Nigeria is different and as such the Arab Spring has no place in Nigeria. Do they still think so? To be sure, the ongoing struggle between the executive arm of President Jonathan’s administration and the people is, in the view of this column, for all intents and purposes the Nigerian equivalent of the Arab spring. It is the popular will which shall and must prevail at the end of the day. So what really is at stake? Is this just about the removal of the fuel subsidy, when to remove it or is it about what a good government should be? First, let us examine the economics as well as the politics of the fuel subsidy. As stated in one of our previous articles on this column on the subject of the petroleum industry, there are 2 schools of thought: (1) That of ‘Buhari and Tam David-West’ that believes there is no subsidy if actual cost of exploration, local refining and transportation are the constituents of the pump price for refined petroleum products, and (2) The ‘government’ school that is based on the opportunity cost, i.e., the international quoted price for petroleum products. Clearly, if domestic refineries are functional and producing enough to meet domestic demand, as the 7th largest exporter of crude oil should do, the difference between the two schools of thought would narrow as it is simply because the actual cost of delivering a litre of petrol to the pump head would have been about N40 that no one in the executive arm of government has yet been able to refute or disprove. Therefore the fact that the government has to resort to the opportunity cost basis as a rationale for justifying the existence of an “import-based” subsidy is indeed a self induced burden that the Nigerian people are being forced to bear. This brings to mind a fundamental principle of common law that no one should profit from his or her wrong, which when applied should preclude the government from seeking to pass the inefficiency and incompetence on its part in failing to ensure that our domestic refineries work and jobs are created. Indeed the economic cost to the nation is not just a subsidy element that the Nigerian people are having to suffer but also foreign exchange, well paying jobs and skills that have gone down the drain with importation of refined petroleum products. We can therefore conclude that the economic justification for the withdrawal of the fuel subsidy is self induced and should not stand. Secondly, even if the Nigerian people should decide that refined petroleum products should be sold at the opportunity cost which is the international benchmark price, the popular will remains that the cost and size of government today is unwieldy and unacceptable. In 2011 nearly 75% of the entire budget was spent on recurrent expenditure. The people have complained time and again that the salaries and allowances of the executive and legislative arms of government are neither affordable nor sustainable. Why has the government shied away from tackling 75% of the problem whilst devoting energy to the remaining 25%? The bloated overheads are not only real but have been carried forward into the 2012 budget proposal such that only N1.3tr out of the total budget of N4.75tr is available for capital expenditure. Meanwhile the presidency is budgeting N1.8b to maintain ‘existing furniture, office and residential quarters’, N1.7b for travel (N724m domestic, N951m international), a ministry has budgeted N2.5b for ‘citizens call centers’ whilst the ministry of agriculture has budgeted N1.2b to incorporate commodity marketing companies. Stationery, refreshments and snacks in the presidency will consume about N2b, miscellaneous spending by the presidential villa alone totals about N1.7b for food, honorarium and something called welfare packages. The SGF and head of service will also receive over N2.5b for miscellaneous expenses including about N300m for welfare and N270m for security votes. These are nothing but misplaced spending priorities! Moving on to the components of the so called N1.3tr fuel subsidy (by end of October 2011) the government is bent on removing, we can ignore the fact that no one in government has been able to analyze and substantiate how the amount of the subsidy ballooned or skyrocketed from the earmarked amount of N240b or between of N300-N500b in the last four years, to the N1.3tr now and focus on the fact that both the government and the people have agreed that the process and system of subsidy payments are corrupt and fraught with fraud. So the question is why this government is not as anxious to investigate and charge all those found to have abused the system as it is determined to remove the subsidy. Meanwhile government has also budgeted about N1,147 billion (not N922 billion!) for the security sector. Ordinarily, given that security of lives and property is arguably the most important function of government, no one will quarrel with the magnitude of this provision for national security per se but for the fact that like everything handled by this administration, it is riddled with secrecy, lack of transparency and corruption. People are demanding for the so called security votes to be made more transparent and for competitive bidding to be the norm for all national procurements in accordance with the Public Procurement Act. So at a time when the entire country is under siege from attacks by insurgents, religious fanatics, armed robbers, kidnappers and militants alike, including the unfortunate and condemnable massacre of innocent citizens in sacred places of worship, the government chose to worsen the mood of the nation by unilaterally removing the fuel subsidy. In response to the widespread anger, the government in yet another show of insensitivity and incompetence, announced a so called ‘SURE’ package to ostensibly alleviate the suffering of the citizens but if truth be told, the so called ‘SURE’ package is founded on unsure, unsound and uncertain grounds. But for the fact that it may not be politically correct to accuse the government of embarking on a grand 419 scheme, the SURE program is close to being a mirage if only because not a single naira provision has been made in the 2012 budget for the program in its entirety. So it is bad enough that the government blatantly violated our constitution by admittedly expending more than N1.3tr on fuel subsidy without legislative approval or appropriation, but it is taken to the point of absurdity that the government will now openly announce and publish an elaborate program of spending as detailed in the SURE program without any appropriation whatsoever. This is why the people must see the Jonathan administration for what it is. The excuse that the government plans to submit a supplementary budget is clearly an afterthought that should be out rightly dismissed. In any case, the 2012 revenue projections already assume zero deductions for subsidy and still contains nearly N1 trillion as deficit, so where will SURE get the revenues to fund it? We should cross that bridge if and when we get there if only because a bird in hand is worth 10 in the bush. For the government to offer a so called palliative that has not even been submitted as a budget proposal is as deceptive as it is a case of medicine after death given that the people’s suffering started as far back as the 1st of January when those that travelled for the holidays were and are probably still stranded. The unaffordable price increases that were occasioned by the removal of the subsidy with which necessities such as transport and food were immediately affected are present and continuing and no one knows how many will not be alive to benefit from the so-called palliatives. The government needs to apologize to Nigerians and go back to the drawing board. Nigerians, including this writer, are not against deregulation per se and if any example of shoddy government is needed, it is to be found in this current impasse of subsidy removal. Deregulation is a package of transition from public monopoly to competitive market. Necessary ingredients for this transition include at the barest minimum; (1) Well articulated policy review (2) Enabling legislation to de-monopolize the sector (3) A regulatory agency that will supervise the sector and implement the program (4) Attracting and licensing of private sector providers in the sector. That is what we did in the BPE with the telecommunications sector, and now the electricity industry. Clearly when the Jonathan administration’s approach to this issue is measured against the foregoing minimum 4 ingredients, it is glaringly obvious that what we have is, at best, a knee jerk approach rather than a well thought out deregulation program. If not, who is the regulatory agency for the deregulated downstream petroleum sector? If the answer is PPPRA, is the agency well equipped and ready for this task? And where are its program? And why was the petroleum industry bill not enacted prior to the subsidy removal? Who are the private sector competitors that will replace or augment the moribund publicly owned refineries? Are we to continue to depend on the imported refined products as a substitute for local value addition and job creation? These and more are the reasons why the people have embarked on the peaceful protest against subsidy removal. As can be summarized from the foregoing points, there can be no rational economic justification for the subsidy removal until the wastages in government have been curtailed if not eliminated, those that abuse the system have been penalized or sanctioned; just as there can be no political or social justification until a consensus has been reached by the people that petroleum products should be priced at the opportunity cost. It only remains to also state that the legal issue of whether or not the ongoing protest is legal is an issue of semantics simply because the injunction that the government procured from the National Industrial Court is only to preclude organized labour from calling for or embarking on a national strike. It is submitted that this is not just a strike but a peaceful protest that goes beyond organized labour. This in essence is the thesis of this submission that the right to protest in support of the popular will is an inalienable, fundamental human right that can never be abridged or abrogated by any court; such that were organized labour to recall their members from the national strike, this nationwide peaceful protest will continue unabated. The government is duty bound to protect its citizens and see that no protester is harmed, so a situation where thugs are attacking and vandalizing the NLC offices or attacking unarmed youths in Abuja should be looked into by the government. Overwhelming majority of Nigerians are not just protesting against the removal of the fuel subsidy but against bad governance that manifests itself in the pervasive insecurity of lives and property, widespread corruption and unacceptable huge cost of running the government. In conclusion, both houses of the National Assembly have called on the executive arm of government to respect the popular will and not only reverse its position on removal of fuel subsidy but to also begin to address itself to the urgent pressing issues of corruption, insecurity and bloated cost of governance. This is the popular will that cannot be wished away. President Jonathan was wrong to have dared the people’s resolve. Now that he has been confronted with mass protests, it is in the collective best interest for him to begin to show that he is a democrat and a leader by respecting the popular will. The sooner the better. Worse still, the government sought to save about $7b from subsidy removal whilst the country is losing between $1 – $2b daily by way of lost GDP from the nationwide protests. Is this not a case of penny wise pound foolish? The answer is President Jonathan’s call and not that of his cabinet and advisers.

TORTUOUS PATH TO A DEFINITE FUTURE January 8, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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On the 1st of January, 2012 while millions of Nigerians travelled for the festive period, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan pressed an important button that has since triggered national reactions and brought about a united response never before seen n Nigeria. #occupynigeria, the much ranted discourse on twitter thus came alive from different locations across Nigeria.

#occupynigeria #ibadan began under my humble watch and I have since watched it spiral into something obviously greater than any individual. Never before in the history of the nation has young people across all state began a nationwide protest before organized labour aired its views or expressed their decisions. This is a new dawn in Nigeria which we must sustain.

Asides being a bit vocal on social media, most Importantly twitter, I am priviledged to be a key player in the sustained 5-day protest response that has brought economic activities in ibadan, Oyo state to a near-stand still. Asides organizing the #occupynigeria #ibadan peaceful protest, I alongside other friends, and young vibrant people of Nigeria helped in sensitizing the people of our immediate communities about the need to arise and deliver a better Nigeria through accountable leadership. Speaking to Governor Ajimobi without fear and categorically asking for government cut from executive, legislative to grassroots levels remain a very high point for me this week thus far.

Subsidy in itself, if it exist at all, is not our major concern but reduced governmental waste at all levels of, then more transparent and accountable leadership. That said, I need to remind you of our need to stay safe, smart but courageous starting tomorrow. Please endeavor to have medical teams around in case of emergencies. This is very crucial.

As you go along, remember to disseminate information as much as you can. I still pray to get enough resources to print as little as thousands to millions of enlightening materials to educate the masses. Our struggle isn’t against fuel subsidy removal alone, it’s against excessive government spending, government waste, corruption amongst others.

Mr President made an attempt to save face yesterday. Its rather too late. One thing is sure, he HEARD our RANTS, SAW our ACTS. We must sustain this struggle. As we proceed from this point to a definite destination, I ask for more support across board, more involvement, an unyielding spirit, calmness, courage, prayers and strength for days ahead. We have begun what is, a definitive journey in the history of Nigeria. I sincerely ask that God preserve all of us, grant us the grace and strength to witness the birth of a New Nigeria that we all hope for.

God bless you my friends.

God bless Nigeria.

Follow the writer on twitter @seunfakze

#OCCUPYNIGERIA: WILL LABOUR GIVE IN? January 6, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in Uncategorized.
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Good evening friends. I believe we had a pleasant day.Thanks to everyone who has gone out to stage protest in Nigeria and beyond it #occupyNigeria.

I watched in dismay the court injunction restraining organized labour from proceeding on strike and organized protest. I went through the release of NLC, TUC, PENGASSAN; and i found that what they had in mind before declaring to go on strike was inline with what the people wanted: an end to suffering and imposition of untimely harsh policies on the majority of Nigerians.

Now that the FG through its ‘organised’ court has given this injunction, the question I wish to ask : Will Labour Give in? Is our future worth their intimidation or they wil refuse to settle with the government? Is NLC/TUC compromised?

Please enjoy the document.

God bless you.

follow the writer on twitter @seunfakze

Communique issue at the End of the National Executive Council (NEC) PENGASSAN Held at the National Sec. Lagos State On Jan. 5, 2012 & Re-Removal of Fuel Subsidy, TUC Communique Held

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