IF I WAS IN THE MEETING

If I, Bankole Otegbeye, was in the meeting where the government officials sat and in the end of it decided to increase the price of petrol, I will vehemently oppose the decision.

I will try to help them think logically and reasonably. To give them a glimpse of how the reasonable man will react to the decision they reached, I will make them realise what this decision will make of them, simply by opening their selfish minds to the reality with the appropriate words to tag their actions.

Firstly, how do you do the same thing people before you did and then expect a different result?You are probably insane.

Secondly, the master is always travelling to cold countries while they are always in air conditioned rooms and cars, while on the other hand, the people desperately need petrol to power their generators yet they increase the price of petrol. It shows how insensitive they are.

Thirdly, these same people slavishly apply theories without creating the requisite conditions for theories to work. They arenothing but wishful thinkers.

Fourthly, they rule a unique country where few seconds after the “Market Forces” heard about the increase in price of petrol, the prices of all commodities simultaneously increased (even rice wey been dey store since join add price), and yet they put their faith and our fate in the hands of Market Forces. Let us simply put – they are hopeless.

On a fifth note,these same wishful thinkers say everybody can now import petrol as if it is as cheap as one million or even ten million naira, when they know it is only the same very rich ones who are already in the business that will continue to run the show.I call them bunch of liars.

On a sixth note, these bunch of liars govern same unique country where producers of products like ‘pure water’, which is neither regulated nor subsidized, unilaterally increase prices because their product is indispensable to the people. Yet they insist that deregulating and not subsidizing a product as indispensable as petrol, without changing the factors that allows producers unilaterally increase price, will lead to decrease in its price. They arejokers.

On a seventh note, these jokers make shallow policies that affect people’s lives without having any definite plan to make it work. They are playing clearly playing with our lives.

Next, the citizens of this unique country suffer from so much lack yet the only solution our government proposes is taking from the little the people have. I call this wickedness.

Number nine, they called another man ‘bad’ and criticized a government for doing a thing and they promise to do things differently if they occupied that position. Now they find themselves in the position but they do that same thing and feel that saying they have no choice will be an acceptable excuse. These ones are cheats.

Lastly, the hardship, as it is, have caused many Nigerians to turn to crime and evil yet they act like they have made blood oath at Okija to always make policies that strengthens the evangelism of evil in Nigeria by increasing the present hardship which will be tantamount to increase in, inter alia, ritual,kidnap,crime and all forms of evil tendencies. They say they have no choice because they are occultist.

Now, after they have been made to see what their people think of them through my answers, I will proceed in my argument against this dogmatic notion that deregulation and subsidy removal is the immediate solution to the problems of Nigeria by addressing the arguments and postulations of those proponents of the policy and their new converts.

To begin with, let it be clear that I am not opposing subsidy removal because it is infamous, neither do I take this position because it is fashionable nor is it because I am afraid of change. In fact, what we asked of this government is change but what change does a policy that causes the price of petrol to increase in a petrol-dependent economy bring apart from an upward change in the degree of hardship for the people?

Regardless of all previous and the present government’s argument, any policy that causes the price of petrol to rise at this time in our country’s life is a display of gross ineptitude. It is like the doctor removing the oxygen from an unstable patient’s nostril because oxygen is running out. How about sourcing more oxygen so you can have the opportunity to treat a living patient? Is keeping the patient alive not paramount since if he dies from lack of oxygen there will be no patient left to stabilize?

I have seen the government’s various attempts to explain. I have read the essay of Femi GbajaBiamila titled “My Deregulation And Oil Subsidy Conundrum”, I have also read the explanation given by the Vice President and I have considered the postulation of Emmanuel Ibe-Kachikwu. It is good that Barrister Gbajabiamilaalluded to his opposition to the last administration on this very issue, at least that shows that amnesia is not the government’s challenge. The reason he gave for his change of heart was the “doomsday prognosis” of the Minister for Petroleum which left him “…no option but to capitulate”. According to him, “…the facts were incontrovertible and the prognosis and consequences dire”.Oga, with all due respect sir, your use of English is prima facie evidence that your essay is only an attempt to bamboozle Nigerians. Obviously, Jonathan saw the same prognosis and said the same thing, he just wasn’t as verbose as you are now. I understood you and your people’s argument then to be regardless of any prognosis. Therefore all those your arguments then still suffice regardless of any prognostic excuses.

Barrister Gbajabiamila said that he intends to fight with all he has for a review minimum wage and for progressive taxation (the rich will pay higher taxes). This makes me wonder if the reason for this petrol price increment is to save money what will be achieved by using the saved money to pay higher minimum wage, a minimum wage that government cannot pay ab initio? Ask him – If you can raise revenue from progressive taxation, what is the need to go through this unnecessary cycleof subsidy removal to raise revenue-increases in minimum wage so people can meet up with the resultant high cost of living-then get revenue from taxing the rich to pay the higher minimum wage?

Bros, na lie, your story don dey long.

Start with progressive taxation then if you still need money we can negotiate. Otherwise, I put it to him that his intention is either insincere or not borne of critical thinking.

Our Vice President explained that the problem is from foreign exchange rate in the face of dwindling revenue and not subsidy removal per se. According to the Professor, independent marketers and any Nigerian entity will source their foreign exchange at an average of about N285 to the dollar. Let’s pretend that their government’s policies did not contribute to the recent fall of naira against dollar so we can focus on the other issues. What is our assurance that the exchange rate will not increase again? What will become of petrol price when importers say they got the dollar at a higher rate and cannot sell less than an amount which is above what we bargained for? What will stop the dollar from rising against the naira as a result of same MarketForcesTheory of the Government, that is, higher demand for dollars by importer will cause dollar to further rise. I doubt if the meeting covered those angles because if it did then we wouldn’t have heard the VP’s explanation in the first place.

Furthermore, I totally understand the primary argument and Emmanuel Ibe-Kachikwu’sargument for the removal of subsidy and deregulation. It is premised on the theory of allowing MarketForces to operate naturally and on the long run the prices will decrease and stabilize. Basically, the term “MarketForces” connotes forces of demand and supply. Ideally, opening up the industry will trigger competition and increase in supply as more people will be involved in the business of importing petrol. Trite economic law states that an increase in supply without a corresponding increase in demand will cause a decrease in price.

Apparently, this is a sound theory that should work well in an ideal country where all things are equal. However, the two cardinal questions are, number one, Is Nigeria an ideal country, and number two, will all things be equal, in loose parlance- is ceteris going tobe paribus? As I speakthe answer to question one is no! Nigeria is not ideal; this is a notorious fact that doesn’t require proof, so I shall not bother to elaborate.

However, let’s pretend just for a moment that Nigeria is ideal, can we say from where we stand that things are equal even in our wildest imagination? The things that need to be equal are stable foreign exchange, competitive and transparent environment, and proper use of government revenue. I have previously stated unequivocally that the exchange rate is likely to be a problem so I will proceed to the other two.

Honestly, I hate to sound pessimistic but history tells me that the governments in Nigeria, have never been able to check the excesses and tendencies of selfish people. For example, not only did this government fail to check the artificial scarcity consistently created by stakeholders in the downstream sector, but they also failed to prevent the stakeholders from profiting from their wrong of hoarding when they get away with selling old stocks at new prices. How can any reasonable man bet on this government’s capacity to stop the very rich from creating a guerrilla monopoly? A past helpless president referred to them as the cabal. Let’s not be deceived, to import petrol is not a cheap pot of beans, so the government’s statement that “…any Nigerian entity can now import” is a misrepresentation. What they meant to say was “…any VERY RICH Nigerian entity can now import”. And who are the very rich Nigerian entities? Are they not the same persons already in the oil business?

The cabal. Is the cabal not constituted by politicians? The cabal is made up of politicians, and that’s why the government cannot stop them and instead will always make the people bear the brunt. What else can you expect when you make someone a Judge in his own case like the politicians are in this system?

Obviously, the cabal will modernize and continue their guerrilla monopoly because the government will rather collect from the people than face the cabal. Therefore, the requisite “competitive and transparent environment” which is a condition precedent for the success of this policy will be consumed by the fire of cabalcracy (pardon my French). At best, the cabal will give Nigerians a good deal while they continue to get more than they deserve. Then after they have used up their goodwill, they will revert to their impunity.

The government wants to take more of the people’s money when they have not displayed any significant change from what we are now used to. Like chips of the old block, the government will have more money but the money will not be enough to fix the power, transport, or even petroleum sector, so they will say to themselves “why don’t you give me N13 million from that money, I need to go to China on an official trip that is not going to yield profit because I am a minister of the Federal Republic and I Campaigned hard for us to win.” With all these obvious realities ceteris is not paribus at all.

The routine is to increase the price of petrol, allow the strike to follow then negotiate and settle at a price significantly above the former. At the end of the routine, all we get is higher cost of living and a ready excuse for the government who will say they failed because we didn’t let them remove subsidy. This time, it is in fact good counsel for the people to either resist or concede totally because negotiation will give this government the ready excuse for failure. If it is my decision I will choose to resist totally unless they show me that the revenue saved from this policy can substantially/successfully fix the power, transport and refinery problems, jointly or severally. This is the only term that can make the contract they offer considerable but I fear they may breach the contract even if we reach a consensus.

I think the people have tried enough.The people fend for themselves in every aspect of life like orphans without any benefactor, yet the government is saying they need to double the yoke for things to get better. If they cannot stand by those their words when they “occupied Nigeria”, how can they expect us to take their words that things will get better after a while? When the burden kills the people who will be there to see the better days? Or is this going to be like the primitive times when it was the survival of the fitness?

Well, I have said plenty but all I have said will be meaningless if I do not proffer possible solutions in this concluding phase. I do not need a Harvard degree or grey hair to know that the problem of petrol price in Nigeria is not one of supply but it is a problem of DEMAND. The government must take the attention away from increasing supply and focus on REDUCING DEMAND instead.

The fundamental question is why is demand way above supply in the first place? I have two simple answers that are common knowledge. Firstly, the only means of transportation in the country is petrol and diesel powered automobiles. There hasn’t been and there still isn’t any concrete strategy to provide the alternative of rail or any other means so everybody demands petrol for transportation every time. Secondly, as if the transportation pressure on petrolis not enough, people get to their work place and homes and no electricity, no light palava. They have to on gen which requires petrol so again they demand petrol because despite the coal, natural gas, sun, wind, water, human resources (millions of people with engineering certificates, qualification and strength), and the crude oil dollars, the government can’t and still don’t believe the power problem of the country can be solved. I propose the obvious solution: sustainably fix the railways and/or power problem which will cause drastically decrease in demand for petrol and significant reduction in petrol price. In addition, it will lessen the people’s yoke therefore government must put immerse effort in this direction even if it means borrowing.

Finally, since this government have said they don’t know what else to do, I have words of advice for them all:

Babatunde Raji Fashola, you are working on power. You have increased tariff yetthere is no light but you say we will soon have light. If what you say is true then tell your government to wait patiently till power is stable and see if petrol price won’t go down before they turn to giving us the yoke.

Emmanuel Ibe-Kachikwu maintain the price of fuel for now because the price of everything else depends on it. In addition work on your industry to significantly check the corruption therein which is the actual root of the country’s wahala. Then if you can think of policies, other than subsidy removal, that will encourage local refining of the crude oil please do.

Rotimi Amaechi work on providing interstate modern rail and trains connecting major states or isn’t the money baba borrowed from China for things like this. We will gladly pay to use it. But if you don’t have the capacity to do this, abeg just don’t steal the money.

For the Tinubus and El Rufias,if the houses you build on our Lands which you got free, cannot be made affordable to the average man, then don’t share our Lands. Biko, leave the lands for people to farm on.

President Muhamadu BUHARI!! You need to start rounding up your trips. Come and handle the militants and fulani herdsmen. You also need to come up with better government policies and make sure your people execute prudently and do what they are paid for. Ultimately, for posterityyou must change Nigeria to a place where real work pays. Because: no country can progress when criminals,militants, and politicians are the highest paid professionals and are even celebrated for their lawlessness.
You needn’t increase our yoke from all corners before you change Nigeria for better just do your jobs.

Haba, una wan kill us? Remember say FelaKuti talk say you no go die unless you wa, die. Na him be say na suffer head you put us as Nigerians prefer to suffer than to die!

Before I leave that meeting, I will look them in the eyes and ask them one last time if they really think there is any justification for increasing petrol price after how they got knighted by fighting the last administration on the issue.I will point out to them that the more they explain this madness the more they look like the Pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. This is how they sound- “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others… No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. … But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.”

If I, Bankole Otegbeye, was in the meeting where they decided to increase the yoke of the people, I will urge every sensitive, sincere, and smart person in the cabinet to voice his immediate oral resignation and hand his written resignation so soon thereafter.

#IfIWasInTheMeeting

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2 thoughts on “IF I WAS IN THE MEETING

  1. Atakpa Uyobong Adam 17/05/2016 / 16:11

    Interesting piece-i dare say u caught the bull by the scruff of its neck!

    • 'Bamiyo 26/06/2016 / 07:56

      The pain hit the writer hard I must say, one of the reasons for the piece.

      Thanks for reading boss

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