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Fuel And Electricity Hikes In Nigeria: The Economic Warfare Against The Masses

The Covid-19 pandemic which has ravaged the entire world has in its wake a disastrous consequence. It was like the whole world was at war with some unseen dark forces from outer space. Nigeria was not exempted from near eclipse. But while the world battles with economic survival arising from this crippling effect of a disease whose entire history is not yet known, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the electricity distribution networks announced a sudden increase in tariffs charged on energy consumption by household and industrial concerns. And closely followed was another announcement on the cost of fuel pump price. If the economy is worsted by the COVID-19 pandemic, then increase in the price of energy supply and fuel must have doubled the consequences on the living conditions of an average Nigerian both in direct purchases and the multiplier effect of the production of goods and services, and ultimately on the prices of consumption.

            An insensitive economic policy creates a grave consequence on the citizens and rising from an economic problem is also the danger of social problems – crime and other anti social vices will no doubt follow in its wake. Just like country smarting from a war situation, Nigerian are most likely going to resort into crime to make ends meet. Recently, President Mohammadu Buhari tried to justify the hike in fuel pump prices, comparing the nation to the Kingdom is Saudi Arabia where pump price of fuel is solid at an equivalent of one hundred and sixty eight naira, but Nigerians have been united in condemnation of this painful policy. Moneys have both Face and Real values. The face value of a currency is the name given to it; the real amount according to those who mint such currency while the “real’ values is the purchasing capacity of such currency.

            In a country where the average minimum wage is less than seventy dollars ($70) or thirty thousand Naira at an exchange rate of four hundred and fifty Naira it appears a little bit insensitive for a government to compare prices with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia whose minimum wage is over three hundred Naira.

            And to add, where services and the provision of infrastructure is top notch. It is like taking the sensibilities of Nigerians for a ride. Saudi Arabia has about ten functioning refineries which produce for its local consumption and also export while Nigeria has none. Saudi Arabia has social security schemes that provide for its indigent citizens and weak population where such is not provided for Nigerians. Such comparison is a wicked exploitation of a docile citizenry.  Nigerians poor are doubly exploited. It becomes very difficult how to reconcile such policy in an economy which has abundant reserve of crude oil only to build such economy on exports of that God-given resource only to import same as finished products. The government would do well to put in place effective refineries to process its own crude and saturate the local markets and consumption for its own citizens and thereafter consider the exportation of finished products. Much resources would have been keep on the local economy.

            As if the fuel situation is not that bad, the increase in electricity tariffs cripples local industry, small and medium scale enterprises which are the commanding heights of the local economy. Over seventy percent of Nigeria’s economy are largely driven by these local enterprises. We cannot afford to cripple the engines that drive our survival as a nation and hope to achieve greatness in the next two years. Nigeria has been in a grandiose illusion of some robust and fat economy even when it was clear that its budget size is a far cry for the budget of just the Fire Service Department of the State of California which is just one State out of many in the United States of America. There should be a re-think in our global perception of what economic greatness is all about. Most great nations of the world try to increase the Purchasing power of their citizens so as to stimulate consumption and the more the people recycle purchases in the local economy the greater the economy grows and there will be sufficiency for exports.

            Nigerians cannot continue to be at war with COVID-19 and again be in contest for a survival with the crippling effects of a hike in both fuel and electricity tariff, it is like waging breathtaking battles on too many frontiers in a battle for survival.

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