Home / Featured / Buharinomics, Fuel Price Increment and the Concept of Governance -Olugbemiga Afolabi

Buharinomics, Fuel Price Increment and the Concept of Governance -Olugbemiga Afolabi

Let me be blunt from the beginning. The Buharis government has no known and articulate economic blueprint on how to manage and restructure the Nigerian economy to benefit the mass of the people. From the president himself (Buhari), his Vice (Osibajo), Minister of Finance (Kemi Adeosun), Central Bank of Nigeria Governor (Emefiele) and Minister of Petroleum Resources, none of them as individuals or economic team has put forward a robust, well-articulated and reasonable economic framework to address the present economic challenges and situation being faced by Nigerians. Arguments of manage the pains, endurance, belt tightening, bright future and other sweet sounding words are mere words that buys and sells nothing! These refrains has become so routine and meaningless, that it shows no creativity associated with Nigerians on the part of Buhari and his handlers. Successive governments have said the same thing over and over that it that it sounds hollow and irritating. Successive Nigerian governments are sounding like broken records when they introduce half-baked economic policies that further destroys the fundamentals of the economy and disarticulate the socio-existential realities of Nigerians. Furthermore, such appeals and reasons shows cluelessness that is associated with Mr Jonathan, the immediate former president!
As we speak and as of today, for example, there is no clear cut, viable and well defined policy on Nigeria’s currency, whether to devalue, shore up it or take steps to address it. What you hear from Osibajo yesterday is that the naira will be devalued and today, you hear Emefiele saying that the naira has not and will not be devalued. Of course, you hear something totally different from the president himself, all giving the impression of a house uncoordinated and divided against itself. It goes without saying that the Buhari’s government and the individuals in it needs to sit down, brainstorm and come up with a workable policy framework that is identifiable and implementable that would lift Nigerians from their present economic doldrums as well as the need for its economic players to speak with one voice as instead of the cacophony of voices that makes no sense as the present situation is. That is the art of governance. The currency issue explained above, as an example, is a one aspect of the economy to drive our point that Buhari’s government do not have any economic blueprint or any policy framework to solve the present economic meltdown occasioned by years of misrule and mis-governance, accentuated by the immediate past regime profligacy. It did not take Obama years to come up with a bailout plan when he noticed the likely recession and joblessness staring American economy and workers in the face when he came to power. Denial of the parlous state of Nigerian economic reality as well as obduracy, arrogance and associated profligacy (Mr 13 Million naira Lai Mohamed) in the corridors of power will only push Nigeria more into economic doldrums. Thus, what is the economic framework to stimulate, production, manufacturing, investment, finance and consumption as well other critical segments of the Nigerian economy? What is the role of government, institutions and individuals our economic setup? How do we reduce the cost of governance such that the overhead cost of maintaining the National Assembly and bloated executive arm of government can come down? How has our terms and balance of trade fared within the structure of the international economic system? Answers to these and other questions will help identify and chart the pathway to an economic framework that is feasible, workable and achievable. In one of our next article, I will attempt a diagnosis of the problems of Nigerian economy and the likely solutions that can get us out the woods provided there is a political will power to implement the policy recommendations. This will lead us to the next segment of our analysis which is the fuel price increment, wrongly put out and assumed to be fuel subsidy removal.
It is important to state that the recent increment in fuel (petrol) is NOT a SUBSIDY REMOVAL nor is it DEREGULATION. It is none of the above. It is a PRICE HIKE with room for further increment if and when the need arises. The statement by the minister of petroleum, Kachukwu on the increment of price of petrol to 145 naira demonstrates his lack of understanding of the issues and basic economics. It also shows the deceit by which Nigerian leaders rule and the seemingly lack of understanding of public service and concept of governance. Nigerian leaders at all levels would rather tell lies, emotional appeals, engage subterfuge- as demonstrated in the artificial scarcity to justify this unreasonable increment- and sheer brute force to justify an obviously not well thought plan; economic or otherwise. Thus what Buhari and his handlers have done is to arbitrarily fix and jerk up the price of petrol (fuel) to generate income for financing the budget. Mark my words, other avenues would be exploited to further generate revenue to execute the budget and maintain their opulent lifestyles. To argue that the government has deregulated or partially deregulate the sector is a deliberate misinformation because in a deregulated environment, bodies like the PPPRA and other interventionist bodies would cease to exist and naturally disappear. Price would be determined by market forces and government would only act as regulator. NNPC would become one of the players/competitor and not big brother Nigeria. Therefore, what the government has done is to test the waters and see the reactions of the populace. As earlier noted, further increment may be contemplated in due course as the door has been opened by tying the increment to currency issues typified by government helplessness and hopelessness. To increase the price to 145 naira while crude oil sells for about 46.23 dollars per barrel as of today, shows the increment is arbitrary, self-serving, wicked and not found on any sound economic template. Buharinomics is simply an economics of trial and error! In other words, Buharinomics is an economics of per chance!
Yet Nigeria finds herself in this situation by deliberate choice through lack of vision, corruption and parasitic elites that has held this nation by the jugular. The monies spent on the so called unending Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the old and non performing refineries in Nigeria could have been used to build more than 10 medium modular refineries. TAM monies ended up in private pockets without anyone paying for the crime. Arguments for and against APC position on fuel subsidy in 2012 just goes to show and confirm my earlier position that the political class in Nigeria is shameless, lacks integrity, normless and would do anything to get and access power. They are all the same wither in PDP or APC. Banking on Buhari being a sort of built up moral Gulliver among immoral and decadent Lilliputians in the Nigerian society, appeals by Tinubu, Osibajo and El Rufai among others to the populace is becoming meaningless and the political capital (trust) alluded to by El Rufai to this government by Nigerians is fast being washed away. Only their die hard supporters would believe their yarns! Revelations of profligacy by Buhari, his ministers including Mr Lagos Borehole Fashola and 13 million naira Mohammed, unjustified electricity tariff increment leading to more blackout, proposed increment in taxes without corresponding benefits, stamp duty tax curtailing/dampening investment and the continuation/acerbation of the old ways of doing things, vividly shows that Buharinomics of trial and error and his per chance economics is not working. And this shows a poignant lack of the understanding of the concept of governance among Nigerian leaders at all levels.
Nigerians wake up!
Olugbemiga Afolabi

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