Politics And The Church In Nigeria by Reuben Abati
It is difficult to imagine that the Church in Nigeria and its leaders would not be interested in politics as Nigeria begins preparations for the general elections in 2023. A heated and emotional controversy was stirred last weekend when it became public knowledge that the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) had set up The Directorate of Politics and Governance. Many raised an eyebrow. Why would the Church create a Department of Politics and Governance? Publisher, veteran journalist, newspaper columnist and Presidential aspirant Aare Dele Momodu described the development as “an invitation to Armageddon” in an essay titled “My Kobo Advice to Redeemed Christian Church of God” (ThisDay newspaper, back page, March 12, 2022). His main concern was what he described as “the general conspiracy theory that our church was setting up an extensive network for the obvious Presidential ambition of the current Vice President, President Yemi Osinbajo”, whereas there are other members of the RCCG, including his good self who are interested in the Presidential race. Why should the Church favour one person over and above other members?
In a notable response, Kolade Segun Oke-Owo, Deputy Director, Directorate of Politics and Governance, PFN, Ogun State, and National President, Believers in Politics writes as follows: “…The RCCG did not actually create the Directorate of Politics and governance. The creation of the Directorate is a brain child of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria under His Eminence, Bishop Wale Oke, its National President. The RCCG only became the first among other Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria under the leadership of PFN to kowtow and subscribe to the vision of the Directorate of Politics and Governance. It may also interest Uncle Dele Momodu that the National Directorate of Politics and Governance of the PFN is not headed by a member of the RCCG but a General Overseer from another denomination in the person of Rt. Hon. Pastor Femi Emmanuel.”
The fact that only a few days after the Dele Momodu essay, the Daily Trust newspaper and others published a story indicating that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has now notified President Muhammadu Buhari of his interest in the 2023 Presidential race, before that was refuted, lent greater currency to the Dele Momodu protest. The truth indeed is that over the past few months, a group of hidden and open persuaders have been threatening to sue Vice President Osinbajo if he did not throw his hat into the 2023 ring. Members of the RCCG have also not helped matters. They have often said that the General Overseer of the Church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye once predicted that a day would come when a member of the Church would become President of Nigeria. When Professor Osinbajo emerged as Vice President of Nigeria in 2015, the members were excited. They talked openly about a prophecy that was about to be fulfilled. Professor Yemi Osinbajo is not just a member of the RCCG Congregation; he is a Pastor and one of the most visible leaders of the Church. Dele Momodu’s essay is a statement of caution: that the church cannot turn itself into a political machinery and a partisan campaign platform for one individual enjoying a special advantage. He is also a member of the Church. The wife of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, also a Presidential aspirant, is equally a member and a Pastor of the Church. He wants the church to be neutral. Equality before God should translate into equality of aspirations under the umbrella of the Church. Dele Momodu’s supporters have suggested in accompanying reactions that the Church should stay out of partisan politics. In 1961, the Sage, Obafemi Awolowo had put up the same argument as Momodu’s. He said: “It follows that in order that it may discharge its functions, a religious organization must be independent of Government and its patronage and must never be subordinated to its dictates or whims… A religious organization should never allow itself to be regarded as the mouth piece and instrument of the powers-that-be…”. This may be a difficult argument to sustain.
The Church has been enmeshed in politics from time immemorial, from the Roman Empire, to the Medieval Era and to the present day. In the New Testament, the word “ekklesia” which is used to refer to the Church actually means a political assembly, a political association, a gathering. The separation of the State and the Church, or the separation of secular and religious power, has not always been so clear-cut. During the Crusades (circa, 1095 – 1291), Christians fought wars to acquire or regain territory. The Holy Book itself is full of this intersection between the Church, power struggles and secular politics. The clergy are not just spiritual leaders, they fight political battles worse than what is found in the secular community. The argument that the state and religion should be separated is largely theoretical. In 1534, King Henry VIII of England established the Church of England, away from the Catholic Church following disagreements with Pope Clement VII on the scope of papal authority over marital choices. The politics of it is well captured in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons. The Anglican Church continues to play a dominant role in British politics. Back home here in Nigeria, the kind of politics that church leaders play, including litigations and open quarrels, is far more vicious than what is found in the regular political arena. To give a case in point would be the acrimonious conflicts over control and succession in the Celestial Church of Christ since the passing of the founder, Samuel Bilewu Joseph Oschoffa in September 1985. In 2015, Pope Francis advised that Catholics must participate in politics. Just as Christians won’t hands off secular and sectarian politics, being human beings and political animals, leaders of the Muslim congregation are also just as involved.
It should be recognized also that ethnicity and religion are perhaps the two most central factors in the politics of power in Nigeria, as has been proven and examined in such works as Religion, Politics and Power in Northern Nigeria by Matthew Hassan Kukah, Iheanyi Enwerem’s A Dangerous Awakening: The Politicisation of Religion in Nigeria, and Religion and Politics in Nigeria: A Study in Middle Belt Christianity by Neils Kartfelt. Nigerian politicians over the years have used both ethnicity and religion as instruments of manipulating the people for their own purposes, exploiting the people’s fears about domination by the other. Religion has featured prominently in ethnic conflicts in the Middle Belt, on the Plateau, Southern Kaduna and elsewhere, with one group persecuting the other through repeated cycles of violence, and the State, which should enforce peace and justice, is usually partial and biased, taking sides, most cynically, depending on the religious affiliation of the persons in power at the moment. It is this linkage between religious belief and how power is exercised that has resulted in the political patronage of religious groups and the rise of partisanship in places of worship. Nigerian politicians, regardless of the express provision of the Constitution that there shall be no state religion (Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution) have nonetheless turned religion into a special centre of engagement. In every Government House in the states and the State House in Abuja, there is usually a Mosque and a Church, power shifts between both locations depending on the religion of the main leader in charge, who accordingly appoints Special Advisers and Assistants on Religious matters. Christian leaders send members of their constituency on pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Muslim leaders do the same for members of their religious community. Despite assurances over the years that the state shall no longer fund religious trips, the Pilgrims Welfare Boards of Nigeria continue to exist at all levels.
The assumption is that a Christian leader would defend the Christian faith and a Muslim leader would do the same for his own constituency as well. In every election at both Federal and State levels, Nigerians have adopted the convention of a Christian and Muslim ticket, in joint political races, to give the people a sense of balance, access and proximity to power. The most remarkable exception to this pattern occurred in 1993 when a Muslim-Muslim ticket of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Presidential candidates- Bashorun MKO Abiola and Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe won the Presidential election. Given the manner in which religion has further driven a wedge between Nigerians, it would be difficult to reproduce that magical moment again, either now, or in the immediate future. The Church in Nigeria believes that the time has come to do more than preaching and praying and become an active political force.
In yet another statement on the matter, titled “The New Dawn: Church Prophetic Political Delivery and Responsibility of the Church (March 11, 2022)”, Bishop Theophilus Taiwo Ajose, Ph. D declared that all church fathers and leaders are required to direct their members and followers to “register for and update their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and “urgently join any political party of their choice at the ward (grassroots) levels and participate actively in political activities of that party while upholding righteousness.” It is important to further understand the context of this ideological declaration. Hitherto, the Church in Nigeria acted as the moral compass without necessarily being partisan. During the struggle for democracy, 1993 -1999, Catholic Bishops, leaders of the Anglican Church and the Pentecostal Federation fought for the rights of Bashorun Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe to be given their mandate. It didn’t matter that both men were Muslims. The Church was a modulating voice of reason. The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and the Catholic Secretariat through the Justice Development and Peace Departments of the Church fought for democracy and development. The Anglican Church and the Pentecostal Federation were also in the forefront of the struggle. Many would remember the heroism of the Rt. Rev Peter Adebiyi, one of Chief Abraham Adesanya’s most trusted lieutenants, popularly known as the NADECO Bishop, Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi and his fiery sermons and the stinging interventions of John Cardinal Onaiyekan, as well as the activism of the likes of Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Fr. George Ehusani, Fr. John Uba Ofei and and Fr. Iheanyi Enwerem. Catholic priests on one occasion trooped to the streets in defence of democracy! Today, Nigerian church leaders and the Congregation are more interested in fighting for their own. They want their own people in power, even at the traditional, grassroots level. But that didn’t start now.
I recall that as President Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesperson in the lead up to the 2015 general elections, in the course of the campaigns, our campaign train visited as many major churches in the country as possible. We saw crowds of potential voters. Prayers were offered. There were declarations of vision and revelations. The Church was not necessarily fighting for democracy in 2014/2015. It wanted to protect its members who had become victims of religious and ethnic conflicts. Church leaders wanted a Christian President to remain in office to address the emerging crisis. Later, when I ran on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party as a Deputy Gubernatorial candidate in Ogun State in 2018/19, it was part of my schedule as the Christian on the PDP Muslim-Christian ticket to interface with the Christian community. We had a high-ranking member of the PFN in our political camp who made the necessary arrangements, and hence, we went from one church to the other, preaching to church elders. I even participated in debates organized by churches for political party candidates. It was clear to me from the interactions that church leaders in Ogun State wanted power to shift to a Christian candidate, the outgoing Governor then, being a Muslim who had spent eight years in office. If the church leaders saw any visions, they did not tell me.
It is perhaps the same drama that is now playing out ahead of the 2023 general elections. With a Muslim as Nigerian President for eight years, and with the Nigerian Christian community convinced that a Muslim-led Nigerian Presidency persecutes Christians and pampers Muslims, the Church of Nigeria appears resolved to get into the arena of action. It seems Christian forces are now ready to sponsor candidates and mobilize the Congregation, armed with PVCs. The Church has also been drawn into the politics of zoning and rotation. It won’t be long before the various branches of the PFN begin to have chapters of political parties. No one should be surprised if some churches ask every soon that they should be designated as polling units or centres! When that happens, sermons in churches would become political manifestoes. It would be a reflection of how desperate every Nigerian constituency has become, how badly religion has divided us, and how high the stakes would be in 2023.
The truth is that churches in Nigeria today have become far more secular than they were a few years ago. The original words of the Lord Jesus Christ distinguished between the secular and the spiritual thus: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12: 17). But in Nigeria today, those in charge of God’s affairs are threatening to contest with Caesar. They seek to move from a place of independence and spiritual power to the main arena. Many churches are personal estates. Many are business investments. The other day, the General Overseer of the Christ Living Hope Church with Headquarters in Anambra, Rev. Ugochuckwu Emmanuel Ekwem was caught at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport by the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) trying to smuggle 54 sticks of drugs to Kenya. Religious faith is in decline in Nigeria. Political belief is about to dilute religious belief, far more aggressively. The church is seeking redemption through politics. How far will it or can it go?
Africa’s ‘kill the gays’ laws may be good for its nation-building and economic recovery, By Charles Onyango-Obbo
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, at the start of the week, signed into law the world’s harshest anti-LGBTIQA+ bill. Dubbed by critics the “Kill the Gays” law, it imposes the death penalty or life imprisonment for certain same-sex acts, up to 20 years in prison for “recruitment, promotion and funding” of same-sex “activities,” and the death penalty for “attempted aggravated homosexuality.”
Uganda joins just a handful of countries in the world penalising lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual (LGBTIQA+) people with death: Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Mauritania, and Somalia.
A key force behind the “Kill the Gays” bill is conservative Ugandan cultural and Christian groups in alliance with American fundamentalist churches. Their success has been spectacular, because Uganda becomes the first majority “Christian country” that has a law that specifies hanging and life imprisonment for some homosexual acts.
The “Kill the Gays” law might be shocking in its cruelty, but it is made possible by the high levels of homophobia in the country. Some polls have put opposition to homosexuality at over 90 per cent. This is strange because, in Uganda, there is a near epidemic of rape and defilement of children by heterosexual men and virtually no attacks by homosexuals.
This tells us that, like in other countries like Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, where homophobia is on a new spike, this is not about the threat paused by homosexuality. It is, first and ironically, about the terror of what the cultural and political establishments view as heterosexual deviance.
It is expressed in homophobia, which they consider an even worse form of deviance because of more hate and widespread fear of it. Because of that, it is a significant and cheap bipartisan issue that governments facing risky legitimacy crises can’t resist tapping into. In fact, they need it.
This is bigger than Uganda. If one looks ahead, the news is not good – a decade of virulent homophobia and “kill the gays” laws is coming to Africa.
It is possible to see where that wave will be highest. It will be in countries failing to manage their debt and other economic crises and where elite factionalism is high — like Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and possibly Kenya. It will be mild or non-existent in countries not in debt peril (or where governments can pay it) or dire economic straits, including Botswana, Benin, Madagascar and Eswatini.
A big part of this homophobia is a response to a changing world and the fear by the old, cultural and political guardians of what they see ahead. These guardians rightly view sexual liberation and other new forms of expression as central to the new subversive order.
Not only are young Africans on a rampage of free sex that they post on their social media pages, but there are also many of them who are not doing it; they are abstaining, getting married late or not at all, or choosing single motherhood (African men today are unworthy, too many young women claim).
There is also a growing army of something the elders don’t understand; African men who don’t want to settle down or be fathers. Some of these young men have grandfathers who are still alive and grew up in a time when they thought it was their duty to make every young woman in their village or street pregnant, and where the only serious men were polygamists.
Their betrayal is too much.
As if that wasn’t enough, there has been an outbreak of what the traditionalists describe as “uncontrollable” and “ungovernable” African women all over the place. They bow to no man (choose which one they will date long-term or sleep with for a one-night stand), have their own money and careers, and dare go out in groups and buy their own drinks.
And many African women are bisexual.
Looking at all this, the guardians think the Devil is using homosexuality to bring the collective African nation down. Criminalising gay sex, to them, the most permissive form of social liberation and “Western cultural imperialism,” and shepherding the “lost sheep” back into the fold so they can produce more children to keep society strong — as their parents and grandparents did — is a strategic and national security imperative.
Therefore, the homophobic national consensus in many countries will be an important basis for nation-building and economic recovery on the continent for a while. It will get louder and nastier.
One could even argue that it would be concerning if “kill the gays” laws like Uganda’s didn’t come to pass. It would have suggested that there was no social transformation and disruption of the old world. Or at least not enough to worry the elders.
Uganda’s anti-gay war is part of a broader proxy war, over easily the most far-reaching social and cultural transformation in Africa of the post-independence era. Great wars are made great by the stories of their heroes, and world-changing causes need martyrs.
Ugandan prisons full of people who were jailed because they wore rainbow T-shirts or were consenting adult men who kissed each other on the cheeks in their living room but were seen by a nosy peeping Tom neighbour who reported them to the police might be the cast of heroes and martyrs it needs.
They could be the bricks with which a future free society beyond the suffocating one the ruling National Resistance Movement has imposed on it for nearly 40 years is built.
Charles Onyango-Obbo is a journalist, writer, and curator of the “Wall of Great Africans”. Twitter@cobbo3
In defence of fuel subsidy in Nigeria, By Chidi Chinedu
This argument is for the people.
There is now a near-unanimous rejection of the petrol subsidy regime in Nigeria. This is now the popular position. I fear that with the deification of this position, some valid arguments in favour of petrol subsidy within Nigeria’s unique socio-economic context are being denied oxygen, with grave, even existential, threat to the people. To surrender the argument to a government uninterested in ending its imperial status— with all its attendant costs— and an egotistic liberal economic elite buoyed by affirmations within its intellectual bubble, and determined to test the furthest free market theories on the already pulverized masses, is a position I cannot accept.
There has been a growing socio-economic inattentional blindness among Nigeria’s ruling and liberal economic intellectual elite regarding the petrol subsidy issue. They have almost entirely embraced the Bretton Woods position on the petrol subsidy expenditure which isolates it as a drain on national resources, costing the country multiple other development opportunities. This position is flawed, I reckon. In Nigeria, isolating fuel subsidy as a purely wasteful consumption spend is an error. Within the context of Nigeria’s energy crisis, inflation surge, purchasing power squeeze, and general cost of production challenges, petrol subsidy cannot be so rightly isolated.
Caution and contemplation are key in this debate. Scholarly tentativeness and intellectual humility are paramount. One ideological strand in economics cannot be gospel. It cannot be unchallengeable. It cannot be treated as an absolute truth. Our pro-subsidy removal economists (who also champion free float of the currency and other free market reforms) must be realistic enough to recognize that economics is not an exact science. An economic proposal, more often than not, cannot solely determine its own destiny; it depends on some other variables. It is only this realization that will allow for expanded thinking and pragmatic, as against ideological, propositions. I reckon that what has become the subsidy conundrum has a hybrid solution, not an entirely free market solution, given the peculiarities of Context Nigeria.
The fuel subsidy regime does not exist in isolation. In Nigeria, it is simplistic, even inaccurate, to suggest that petrol subsidy is merely subsidizing consumption (not that it is entirely indefensible to argue for subsidy on consumption); it is subsidizing production as well. The Nigerian subsidy story is different. The Nigerian context strips some of the general oft-repeated theoretical principles against subsidy, like “don’t subsidize consumption”, “it is the rich that are being subsidized” and “government needs the money to drive development” of their force of truth; I will explain.
“In Nigeria, petrol subsidy is a purchasing power argument. It is a production argument. It is a local economy energizer argument. It is not merely a consumption argument”.
Regarding production and energizing of local economies, petrol subsidy within the context of Nigeria’s energy crisis provides useful insights. According to the World Bank, 85 million Nigerians (43% of the population) do not have access to grid electricity, representing the largest energy access deficit globally.
To survive the grid energy exclusion, individuals, households and businesses resort to reliance on generators. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), generators powered by petrol, diesel and gas provide 48.6 percent of the electricity consumed by power users across the country. Of this figure, petrol-powered generators account for the bulk of the share, at 22.6 percent.
Overall, an estimated 60 million people use generators to provide electricity for their homes and businesses. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA), 84% of urban households use backup power supply systems such as fossil diesel/ gasoline generators, while 86% of the companies in Nigeria own or share a generator, making Nigeria the highest importer of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and diesel generators in Africa as of 2022.
“Nigerian households and businesses spend an estimated $22 billion annually to fuel generators powering their homes and business”.
The June 2022 report by Stears and Sterling, titled, “Nigeria’s State of Power: Electrifying the Nation’s Economy,” provides some useful insights. It reveals that:
“Over 40 per cent of Nigerian households own generators, and bear the associated costs. First, the cost of purchasing generators – an estimated $500m between 2015 and 2019, higher than the proposed capital expenditure in Nigeria’s 2022 budget.
“There is also the cost of powering these generators. Sources and estimates vary widely, but the African Development Bank estimated that Nigerians spend $14bn fuelling petrol or diesel powered generators.
“While PMS (Premium Motor Spirit) or petrol prices have been kept artificially low for the consumers through subsidies, variations in AGO (Automotive Gas Oil) or diesel prices can have a severe impact on households and businesses as Nigerians are currently experiencing.”
There is telling data from the report on how the largely stable price of petrol due to the subsidy regime helps small businesses survive. “These prices make the small petrol generators more attractive to households and MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises)”, the report stated.
“It is estimated that…In countries with low electricity reliability, the proportion of SMEs using a generator is higher, reaching 86 per cent in Nigeria.”
I have taken pains to show how inextricably linked access to electricity is to petrol subsidy because this point is hardly stated by anti-subsidy advocates. Only recently, the NNPC boss, Mele Kyari, in defending the removal of subsidy, said the country was mostly subsidizing the rich. He, like others, uses car-ownership status as one key measure of ‘the rich’. I’ve always found this argument puzzling. The number of small commercial vehicles relying on petrol belongs to the rich too? Millions of Nigerians relying on petrol-powered commercial vehicles because of the absence of public transportation are enjoying some subsidy luxury?
It is also curious that the argument about lack of capacity for local refining of petrol being largely responsible for the cost of subsidies is now being abandoned. The NNPC boss said the coming of Dangote refinery and eventual return of Nigeria’s refineries would not impact price of petrol significantly. So, what is being said is that the people will now be at the mercy of the markets, essentially having to deal with another heavy cost burden in the foreseeable future, within an already killing cost of living crisis. This is the new normal. An era of price hikes. The argument on how competition and market forces would swing price eventually to the consumer is a curious one too. Swing it to what range? If what has happened with the deregulated diesel and kerosene prices are anything to go by, the petrol price band will for the foreseeable future remain a menacing threat to the people’s standard of living.
The reliance of SMEs, especially, on petrol (as with owners and passengers of petrol-powered commercial vehicles) and petrol-powered generators is a counter to the argument that we are merely subsidizing consumption. SMEs within the formal and informal economies rely greatly on petrol. Removing the subsidy has just triggered an unprecedented price disruption with grave implications for these businesses and their consumers.
I have heard the argument about the unsustainability of petrol subsidy, given Nigeria’s revenue and debt crises. That’s a government argument, a convenient one. That’s not the fault of the people. If the government were serious about waste, prudence and efficiency, then a holistic reform proposal should be advanced. It must include, reining in the size of government, blocking leakages, cutting waste, fighting corruption, and ending subsidies for the actual rich.
“..the total waivers granted by the Nigerian government surpassed its total revenue by 71.3 per cent”
Speaking of subsidies for the actual rich, data from the nation’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) 2023-2025 show that Nigerian government granted waivers, incentives and exemptions worth N2.296 trillion in 2021 to different beneficiaries through the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) while Customs’ total revenue collection in 2021 was only N1.34 trillion. This implies that the total waivers granted by the Nigerian government surpassed its total revenue by 71.3 per cent.
The Federal Government’s introduction of import Duty Exemption Certificate (IDEC) through the Ministry of Finance exempting critical players from payment of import duties and other statutory Customs charges has been alleged to have cost the country a whopping N16 trillion in fraudulent manipulation of the system. Some companies, individuals and other entities were alleged to have abused the system and shortchanged the Federal Government of revenue by hiding under the waiver policy to evade duty on imported goods that are dutiable.
“Senate Committee on Finance had frowned at the N6 trillion tax and import duty waivers proposed by the Nigerian government in the 2023 budget, while pushing for wastages and leakages in the nation’s public sector to be blocked”.
It helps to remember that the Senate Committee on Finance had frowned at the N6 trillion tax and import duty waivers proposed by the Nigerian government in the 2023 budget while pushing for wastages and leakages in the nation’s public sector to be blocked.
I have seen calls for interventions to cushion the impact of the subsidy removal on the people. Things like provision of public transportation and minimum wage increase have been proposed. I believe these proposals underestimate the multiplier force of petrol subsidy in Nigeria. With its removal, the price of virtually every commodity has gone up significantly. Yemi Kale, former NBS boss, estimates that the removal will take inflation to 30 percent. This is at a time the people have been battling high prices of commodities. How can limited provision of public transportation or marginal increase in minimum wage mostly for federal workers stem this system-wide disruption? There are structural issues, like electricity deficit and other cost of production issues, which put these interventions in their proper context— a dangling reed in a deserted island.
And if increase in minimum wage triggers further inflation, what value of the increase would be left? Won’t this just amount to a circular price movement— akin to taking us on a deluded journey to escape a cost of living crisis and arriving at the same point of departure ?
“how can the government which has failed to manage a subsidy regime that has inherent capacity for inclusive reach, design and manage a benefits system entirely dependent on its managerial capacity and integrity?”
Some have argued that the savings from the subsidy would be channelled to proper development priorities. This is the argument of the government as well. They seem to be arguing that the subsidy spending is a waste, a drain on national resources. While I can relate with the corruption part of the subsidy regime, I vehemently reject the dismissal of the petrol subsidy as a waste. They appear to be saying that unless we subject public expenditure to some government programme that plans the disbursement of funds and decides winners and losers, the spending is of inferior value. I reject this. This stems from unreasonable faith in the capacity of government; how can the government which has failed to manage a subsidy regime that has inherent capacity for inclusive reach, design and manage a benefits system entirely dependent on its managerial capacity and integrity?
“I believe petrol subsidy is the most direct, inclusive, impactful and far-reaching government benefits distribution system within the Nigerian context”
Contrary to this position, I believe the petrol subsidy is the most direct, inclusive, impactful and far-reaching government benefits distribution system within the Nigerian context. We have seen failed attempts at palliative distribution. The social welfare system of the Buhari administration continues to suffer credibility issues as many believe it has been neither widespread, verifiable, or inclusive.
Some have even pointed to how many hard infrastructure projects could have been executed with the monies used for subsidy payments. It is as if they are saying hard infrastructure takes precedence over human development. This is a flawed argument. There is a reason why HDI is deemed an essential measure of a country’s development. Both can, and should, be prioritized.
“In the long run, we’re all dead”.
Finally, to the economists who ask the longsuffering Nigerian masses to exercise further patience, to have faith that the government’s reforms would yield lasting fruits, and that the free market would resolve the issues in their favour in the long run, may I kindly remind them of John Maynard Keynes’ famous quote that “In the long run, we’re all dead”.
In fact, I reproduce it in full:
“But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run, we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us, that when the storm is long past, the ocean is flat again.”
Chinedu Chidi, public commentator, writes from Abuja, Nigeria and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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