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Favour Afolabi: On fuel and energy shortages: The denial syndrome of Buhari and his supporters

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Favour Afolabi: On fuel and energy shortages: The denial syndrome of Buhari and his supporters

By Favour Afolabi

It is the funniest thing to continue to live in denial about the very fact that “Buhari would actually become President in another 4 days”. The supporters that put him into office rather than begin to suggest to him what he should do differently still perpetuate the act of insulting the outgoing President and his Government – blaming him for being “the reason there are different time zones around the world”.

Of course they must find an easy target as they would usually do, this time around being Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

So for how long exactly would this be the order of the day? Are Buharians still going to continue to insult and mock Jonathan in 2016? In 2017? In 2018? In 2019? When perhaps some of the same problems they have abused Jonathan for could possibly remain a part of the Nigerian Polity? Are we going to be bogged down by a Leadership and Government in the next four years that would be mounting the biggest podiums around in the world giving excuses that the reason they couldn’t do this or that is “because Jonathan wrecked Nigeria beyond recognition in the last 5 years?” Would Buhari be seeking re-election in 2019 on the altar of “You know we spent the last 4 years correcting the ills of GEJism and we need another 4 years to deliver to Nigerian the true dividends of Democracy?”

I mean this current twin-problems of Fuel and Energy Shortages sure presents our intelligentsia and elites that largely produced the incoming Buhari Government to lead Nigerians into solutions that would show how things would be done better and differently going forward than in the past but what I am reading everywhere sounds more like denials galore. I am sensing that some of them are finally coming to the realisation that “indeed, Buhari is now going to be President and would need to provide answers to all problems including why our wives serve us Egusi with Eba when we actually asked for for Rice and Plantain.”

I see they are refusing to advise themselves and more importantly Buhari to take ownership of the problems that Buhari would be inheriting – some of which precedes the last 16 years of this Democracy and has persisted thereafter under three different Presidents. They continue to treat these matter and others as though they were caused by PDP or GEJ!

So the question really is “What exactly would Buhari do about Power and Fuel Subsidies and the monumental backlog of salaries being owed the workers in many states led by the APC and PDP” – from May 29?

READ: “Buhari embarrassed Nigerians in the UK; and this fuel scarcity is curious” – PDP goes on the attack

And it seems none of Buhari’s supporters or even party members has any answers for Nigerians in these regards – when you encounter them currently on social media or in person, they tell you “Buhari has a Plan but if he discusses such at this point, PDP would say he is running a parallel government!” I think that is actually very laughable – by the time I post this article, there would be only 4 more days to Buhari’s Presidency Nigeria – and I am concerned that these denials would continue even much longer into the earlier days of his Presidency even as I hope that this trend of running away from the problem would not continue – such as running to the United Kingdom for a Photo-Op with Cameron who himself just survived an election – for reasons I simply cannot fathom at a time the nation is facing such trying times?

While I have watched a video of Buhari suggesting that “There is actually no such thing as Fuel Subsidies” – something he said more than 3 years ago, I am hoping the brains around him would have taught him otherwise since then – Dear Mister-Incoming-President, there indeed is such a thing called “Fuel Subsidies”. It is that same thing World Bank and IMF and others have been calling on Nigeria to bring to an end for many years – at their level they would know if there is such or not – and you cannot continue to run away from this – because the very reason we have fuel shortages today is because of the following:

– Oil Marketers naturally get allocations of what to import from the federal government of Nigeria [FGN] on a periodical basis.

– When they do, they approach the banks to issue them credit to do the imports.

– The banks oblige these requests has issued some guarantees of no-payment-defaults-when-your-customer-supplies

– The Oil Marketers go on to import the specified products for onward sales at the respective fuel stations in the country

– The Oil Marketers get the differential between what they call the actual cost and sales price from the FGN – the latter of course being the higher number – that is the subsidy element

– The Oil Marketers receive their monies from the FGN and pays back the bank and keeps the profit – as every business would do!

So let us keep this simple – the Oil Marketers will not bring in products when they do not know if the incoming Government would pay for the products that has already been consumed by Nigerians – and of course the banks would not fund such transactions for the same reasons.

For those that have refused to see the link here, the products you buy at the fuel stations today must have gone through processes 1-6 weeks before it arrives at the fuel station where you are buying it from – so do not expect to see fuel in those stations today if such guarantees has not been given to the Oil Marketers and Banks in the last couple of weeks!

Then it gets funnier – why should anyone expect the outgoing government to give such guarantees when they are unaware of the position of the incoming government on this? Are the Oil marketers expected to agree to take the risk of embarking on these imports at their own costs without necessarily receiving such guarantees when they too are unsure of the position of the incoming government on the subject matter?

So it seems the common denominator here is “the incoming government” – no one is importing fuel as much as they should do because they are uncertain about Buhari’s position on these subsidies!”

While Kayode Fayemi, the Policy Chief of the APC has suggested “the incoming government would remove the subsidies”, it seems he and other party members have been told to keep mum on the subject thereafter – so we can easily see that we are currently faced with a political, first before an economic problem regarding the fuel scarcity – everyone is simply watching the body language of Buhari before they can act.

Well, this relative indifferences and indecisiveness would naturally expire on May 29 – the people of Nigeria would be expecting to hear from President Buhari what he intends to do with the Fuel Subsidies in his first speech in the position – they would want to hear from him – how he intends to move Power from 1,300+MWs to at least the higher levels it was a couple of weeks ago – and they would surely want to hear from him about “how he intends to help the states pay up their backlog of salaries” – and I doubt they would be impressed with comments such as “We are still studying the situation because GEJ really wrecked the economy before we came in?”

Then again – it would appear to me as act of “intellectual fraud” for Buhari and his team to have gone through the entire election cycle without stating what his government plans for Fuel Subsidies and Power would be – how did such get to happen within a polity that boasts of so many educated people? How come our media, elites and civil society groups refused to promote these as what should have been the central themes of the campaigns? Could this have occurred in the US or UK? Of course not – yet we all know that these groups were largely too busy working to install a new President than ask him for his real economic agenda around these major issues! And I am tempted to suggest that they rather shied away from asking him these questions because – deep down, they knew – Buhari had no real well-laid out plans about these issues!

Nevertheless, I foresee these denials would persist for a while longer within this polity – anyone that tries to suggest that “Buhari needs time to repair GEJ’s errors” would naturally be applauded within this polity by Buhari’s supporters perhaps until we get into the next election cycle in 2018/2019? That of course would be such a shame even as they must be told that the reason Buhari won the election is because he campaigned that he would solve all the problems of Nigeria that Jonathan was not able to solve!

Mr. New-President, it is time to take ownership of the problem called Nigeria!

– Favour B. Afolabi, is owner of Online Republic Media.

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