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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Occupy Nigeria - why are Nigerians angry?

As every Nigerian on the face of the planet knows, finally the sleeping Giant has woken up. Okay, Nigeria's still just half-awake but the masses have decided the gospel of the Occupy Movement is actually about Naija. The suffering Nigerian masses and ever-squeezed middle-classes really are the 99% while the corrupt politicians and their cronies make up the looting lying stealing 1%. Hmmmm, do I sound a little upset??? NOOOOOO! What could make you think that? *total sarcasm*

I LOATHE CORRUPTION! I have seen it destroy the amazing country of my childhood until she has become a caricature of herself. Morals have disappeared, public services are gone, basic infastructure is non-existent, security has become residents sleeping with half an ear cocked out for armed robbers while their security guards snooze outside, kidnappings have become rife.

We have learnt not to expect anything from our government - as we don't get anything! We provide our own electricity via generators as the electricity supply is a joke, often tar the roads in our private gated estates ourselves, pay for all medical care (or die from easily treated diseases), pay through the nose for our children's education, provide our own bore-holes (wells) and pump up water ourselves, provide our own pensions and are our own social security net - ok the polluted air and the blazing sunshine are still free (for now! until GEJ finds a way to assure us they are subsidised and makes us pay for them too!) but Nigerians pretty much fend totally for ourselves. We 'shuffer & shmile', we don't complain, we head to religious services by the millions and pray for better days. In a country that is the 12th largest Oil producer in the world (and the 8th largest exporter), 75% of her people earn $2 a day. It is enough to make anyone cry. But we smile, we are optimistic, we once won a survey for the happiest people in the world (!!), we gather in beer palours to discuss politics ad-nauseum but we never demonstrate - oh no - and we never rock the boat. It is reckoned the government earned $50Billion Dollars from exporting crude oil in 2011.

The one thing we do have though is cheapish petrol. Seems fair enough - after all, the thing virtually grows in our country, doesn't it? It gushes out of the ground, destroys the environment, has led to our politicians destroying every other industry as they all rush to suck at the teat of the oil wells, but hey, it is ours. Now, here's a funny ol thing - we have 4 refineries meant to refine the crude oil. This would help keep the price of petroleum goods down. However, for its very own CORRUPT reasons, successive governments have allowed the refineries to become crumbling unmainted edifices until they are now only operating at figures quoted of between 30% - 60%. With our lying governments, this actually makes perfect sense - y'see, they export the Crude oil and import it refined from overseas - (gross and totally lacking in sense!), but this has continued because they and their cabal of friends are skimming off billions of dollars every year from this nifty 'fun' little enterprise. To keep the prices down at the levels the local refineries refine for, the government claims it pays a subsidy to the importers of refined crude. This is the infamous 'Oil subsidy.'

However despite inheriting $110 Billion of reserves from the previous government, our present government has managed to fritter (steal) $80Billion of it over the last 4 years. No-one has the foggiest idea what they spent the money on. Despite the last regime leaving us debt free, the present one has quickly run up $30Billion in debt. No-one knows what the money has been spent on as it sure hasn't been spent on Nigeria and Nigerians!!! So the government is broke. Our government now argues that it needs to get rid of the subsidy which mysteriously and miraculously grew under this government from $1.9Billion from the previous many years to $8Billion over the last 6 months! WE the 99% have begun speculating that clearly we must now be eating and drinking fuel as this is the only thing that can account for the massive 4 fold increase over the last 6 months. A forensic accountant might find it interesting that despite the fact that the subsidy of $1.9Billion had stayed steady for many years, its massive spike occured around the same time our government decided it wanted to begin a 'Remove the Subsidy debate'. Once $1.9Billion leapt to $8Billion, Goodluck Jonathan's government had all the excuse it needed. Consultations began, Town Hall meetings were called. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Lamido Sanusi, Central Bank Governor, lectured us ad-nauseum on what they would do with the $8Billion subsidy removal windfall. One would have thought GEJ's government were running for re-election with all the goodies being promised - jobs for the unemployed youth, training programmes, new rails links, stable electricity supply, new health care centres, new schools, new roads - in fact they have promised so much, independent accountants project they'll need at least 100 times the amount to carry out even a fraction of those things to serve 160Million people. The new slogan they tried shoving down our throats is 'Suffer today so your children can have a better tomorrow'.

However - our government has NO intention of suffering too! The 2012 budget would make a grown man weep. I'll break-it down on another another blog postcard but let's put it this way. The presidenttial villa is spending $260,000 p.a on cutlery - for the presidential villa alone. So what happened to last year's cutlery? Ah, well the cutlery must be changed every year! Doesn't that make perfect sense?

After promising consultation and fooling everyone into thinking no decision would be made until April 2012, our 'compassionate' government announced on New Year's day, the immediate removal of the Fuel Subsidy and an immediate price jump of 112% of the price of petrol and kerosine. This in a country where road links are the only means of transporting goods, food, services and people. Prices of almost everything in the country doubled overnight. The phenomena we call 'double-double' was born. If a bus journey cost N200 pre subsidy removel, it zoomed up to to N500. If a cup of rice cost N1000, it jumped to N2,200. Everything apart from salaries has doubled overnight.

Soooooo, why are we so angry?

Now, there are many elite and middle-class who consider it fashionable to say - well they agree the subsidy cannot continue forever but it could be implemented differently. Let me lay it down here - I am not one of them. I say let the government repair the refineries - and as it cannot be trusted with its sticky stealing fingers to run them once they are repaired, let it lease them back to private firms to run them. The argument of how the subsidy removal would help job creation via working refineries and enticing private investors is solved in one fell swop. Since it costs Nigeria N40 to refine its crude locally, the private companies would still be making a profit selling at N65. Some will ask - where is the government to find the money to fix the refineries? Well, maybe if they stopped paying legislators over $2Million per year and the president cut back on his $10Million annual feeding allowance and other stupendously bloated allowances, they might actually have enough to pay for fixing at least two refineries immediately!

Stop asking the Nigerian citizen to contribute one dime. We have laboured, sweated, suffered, smiled, while the political classes and previous Military governments have looted Trillions of dollars over the last 20 years. Why should the 99% care about tightening our belts even further when we know every cent you manage to squeeze out of us will go straight into your Swiss bank accounts, fancy multi-million dollar foreign properties, private jets, stable of mistresses, expensive Cartier jewellery for the missus, expensive cars, yachts, foreign education for spoiled pamperd children etc etc - and NOT a red cent will be spent on Nigeria? To all the government supporters who keep saying give GEJ a chance, I politely ask, why? He has been defacto president for 23 months - he has been part of the governing administration for 5 years - at what point has he implemented any policies that have helped prove to us and win our trust, that he is that rare breed of Nigerian - an honest politician?

This is why we are marching. This is why we are demonstrating. This is why we are on Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry, Whatsapp, SMS, Youtube, Sahara Reporters, Forums - talking, organising, discussing, sharing links. We want to give our children a new country. A country they can be proud of. We want a country where the lowest worker can earn a living wage. Where the proceeds of OUR Oil Wealth are used to make Nigeria a shining gem for the benefit of ALL Nigerians. Where a wealth fund is created to save for the future. Where every citizen is guaranteed free education at least up until the end of High School. Dear 1%, WE the 99% are sick and tired of your promises. We no longer believe a word you say.

This is the Nigerian Spring! #Occupy-Nigeria-we-are-the-99%-it-is-our-country-too#



John Abiodun Olaitan said...

Hmmmmmmmmmmm, brutally and frontally combative, but factual, and truly true. You really hit the nail on the head. Thanks dear Bucky.

Anonymous said...


Noir said...

@JAO. Hmmm, you should have seen the first THREE drafts!! Think I had smoke pouring outta my ears with those ones! This is the toned-down vedition. LOL. Thanks so much for your encouraging words. : )

Noir said...

@Anonymous. Since I totally respect your mega razor-sharp mind, this is a commendation I totally value. Thanks loads. xx

Anonymous said...


Noir said...

@Anonymous 2. Thank-you very much. Vey kind of you. : )

Ronke said...

Great analysis.

Some extra info to consider:

Given the production capability of Nigeria, the country should ideally have a high standard of living like Norway has today. Zero curruption is the key to making this happen.

Noir said...

Thanks Ronke. So true. Nigeria is a squandering of wealth and resources. Corruption is our biggest problem. The blog postcard written 14/1 tries to tackle this:

All we can do is keep working and doing our bit to rescue our nation from the twin evils of bad government and endemic corruption. x