I really don’t want to sound so ominous but I cannot help it. In 2012, when it was announced that GEJ was removing fuel subsidy, Nigeria came to a standstill, literally. Even Boko Haram halted operations while we all signalled our displeasure at how hard that would make life for us.
In came the infamous Ojota protests.
I was against the subsidy removal in as much as I supported the former president Goodluck Jonathan. My reasons were as simple as they could be.
We live in a country where we have to do virtually everything for ourselves. Nigerians pave their path mostly without government assistance. The taxes we pay barely translates to better infrastructure. We provide water for ourselves (Every house has a borehole) and we also for the most part provide ourselves with electricity. What are the benefits of being Nigerians?
So my take was subsidising the fuel was the one thing that we were certain our government was doing for us. Taking it away without making sure that the transport system was robust and relatively cheap so people don’t need personal cars to commute just seemed wicked to me.
Also, there is the matter of the minimum wage in Nigeria. How were people expected to cope with the ripple effects of an increase in fuel pump price? You cannot just make us go cold turkey overnight.
Lastly, I was simply worried that the Nigerian government cannot be trusted. Removing the fuel subsidy might not mean that there is more money to improve our infrastructure. It could also mean that our polithiefcians had access to more loot.
So GEJ was vilified and that began the end of the goodwill Nigerians had for him. Eventually, this would also lead to him losing the elections.
Buhari came in and scrapped fuel subsidy. Or didn’t he? Because Fuel went from 87naira to 165naira. In fact, some people told us that this signalled the start of a competitive era in which fuel stations would be competing to woe customers.
What happened after that?
To my shock, it turned out that there was no fuel subsidy removal. And the conversation about removing fuel subsidy was still going on. Wasn’t it removed? I am not sure Nigerians got any explanation for this.
And now, President Bola Tinubu announced that the subsidy had ended and immediately, the pump price went up by 150%.
In a struggling economy with no regard for the impact this would have on the common man, we are forced to just ply this path. I have heard people so disconnected from how the average man lives to speak about this being best for Nigeria.
Please who are the Nigerians? Because my junior colleagues that earn minimum wage cannot afford to transport themselves to work.
They cannot afford to lose their jobs and they cannot afford to come to work and I am just stymied. Going from spending 20k on transport a month to spending 50k is a tremendous leap and that would be the plight of certainly more than half of Nigerians. Where on earth do they get a deficit?
In Lagos, the BRT buses do not ply every route. There is nothing in place to help people. Are the leaders at the top so distant from what their citizens are going through? They are now trying to tell us that to fuel your car or even a generator is a privilege that should be reserved for only rich people.
Let me not complain. Tinubu has only been in the office for a week. But this week better not be an indicator of what is to come because if it is, walahi, I go weak.