The recent debate surrounding the removal of fuel subsidies in Nigeria has been met with a flurry of criticism from various quarters. However, it is essential to evaluate this criticism in a constructive, objective, and nonpartisan manner. While criticism is a vital aspect of any democratic system, it is important to offer viable alternatives and solutions rather than simply opposing the policy for the sake of opposition.
The Nigerian elites, in particular, have displayed a cultural tendency towards critique. This critical mindset grants them a sense of celebrity and allows them to align themselves with the masses. However, it is crucial to recognize that this approach may stem from a virtue-signaling mentality deeply rooted in cultural Marxism, where every position held by the establishment is subject to questioning and ridicule.
Interestingly, the leading presidential candidates, including Atiku, Obi, and Tinubu, previously advocated for the removal of fuel subsidies, emphasizing its necessity. It is hypocritical that these individuals are now criticizing the current administration for implementing a policy they once championed. The removal of subsidies was once a populist policy used as a talking point to garner political support.
While there is merit in the argument that the government should have rolled out palliatives and social welfare programs before ending subsidies, it is important to acknowledge that short-term discomforts may arise as a result of the policy. However, the intelligent perspective is that these short-term challenges will pave the way for the development of the oil sector, promote competition, and eliminate corruption and malpractices associated with subsidies.
Neighboring countries such as Benin, Mali, Togo, Ivory Coast, and Ghana have experienced increased prices of premium motor spirit (PMS) due to the fact that they benefited from Nigeria’s subsidy program through black marketers. Nigerians, on the other hand, have suffered from high inflation, public debt, and unemployment while subsidizing oil products not only for themselves but also for other African nations.
It is vital for the elites who vocally condemn corruption and corrupt systems in governance to recognize the significance of this policy in addressing inherent corruption and imbalance. It is worth noting that supporting a policy that works does not require allegiance to a specific political party.
While criticism of government policies is important, it should be accompanied by constructive suggestions and alternatives. Simply opposing a beneficial policy without offering a viable solution does not contribute to nation-building. The removal of subsidies is beneficial for the Nigerian economy, particularly for an oil industry plagued by corruption, opacity, unaccountability, and wastage.
To revitalize the oil industry and transform it into a wealth-creating sector, subsidies need to be removed. It is inevitable that tough decisions must be made to steer Nigeria in the right direction, and constructive criticism is crucial in holding the government accountable.
The elites must prioritize the nation’s interest over scoring political points. Adopting unconventional approaches for the sake of being different does not serve the greater good. It is time to acknowledge that the fulfillment of their wishes and demands regarding subsidy removal necessitates responsible engagement rather than blind rebuke.
Furthermore, the recent unification of the naira in the foreign exchange market is another commendable move by the president in the fight against corruption. This decision eliminates multiple exchange rates that enable fraudulent practices and rent-seeking.
In conclusion, subsidy removal is a positive economic step for Nigeria. It is important to differentiate between constructive criticism and baseless rebuke. Upholding the status quo of elitism and rewarding corruption will not benefit anyone in the long run. Constructive engagement and the pursuit of viable solutions are crucial for the progress and development of the nation.