Madam “WORLD BANK”, Learn When To Stop By David Adeniyi
The media was awash with the news of the abduction of the mother of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from her home in Ogwuashi-Ukwu in Delta State on December 9th, 2012.
The kidnap of the 82 year old, Prof. Mrs. Kamene Okonjo who was later dropped off near her home after spending five days in the abductors’ den, leaves much to be desired of the high level of insecurity in our nation. Thanks to the massive media publicity given to the unfortunate incident by the presidency, Delta State government, the Okonjos and the security agents. There was heavy deployment of policemen, soldiers and other security operatives around the palace and the community immediately after the kidnap. Now, imagine if the government would have taken the urgent measures they did with the kidnapping of the mother of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in similar kidnap cases (especially when the victims are not among those in government or their family members) if it were to be given the same priority as to this one. Well, your guess is as good as mine. Huh? All animals are not equal.
It is still sketchy how much was collected by the abductors for their nefarious activity before Her Royal Highness; Prof. Kamene Okonjo was freed from the claw of death. Some reports had it that #10M was paid by the family. Some said it was #15M while another claimed it was #20M. The ransom paid was very conflicting as her family was not ready to disclose the details of her release to the public.
Sincerely speaking, I sympathise with the old woman for her ordeal in the hands of her abductors. I feel sad because it is obvious that the fear of God has certainly been reduced to nothing in our country and it further shows the level of insecurity in Nigeria, but thanks to God and the power-that-be that quickly paid the ransom; the undisclosed amount to rescue the “poor” woman.
I cannot, but wonder that the news of the mere kidnap of NOI’s mum filtered through the length and breath of the country and exploded like a Christmas banger, But little or no publicity was given to many innocent souls who died during the January fuel subsidy protest. The gory sights of the young man, Ademola Aderinto at Yaya Abatan, Ogba, and others who were gunned down by the trigger-happy policemen are still fresh in my memory. I doubt if any of these killers have been brought to justice up till today.
I do not have any score to settle with madam “World Bank” but her roles during the fuel subsidy removal leave much to be desired. I watched her on TV as she was junketing from one station to another trying to defend a draconian policy called fuel subsidy that has failed to hold water.
The Nigerian government, its quest to convince us during the crisis which Ngozi chaired, went to the extent of telling us to sacrifice to avoid going the Greece way and those other European states that are already in dire economic strait due to the actions and inactions of their leaders.
At this trying of our nation’s existence, those in government were hell bent on removing the fuel subsidy; they were all singing the same tune. They seemed to be in high good spirits like a man who has just got married, or concluded a successful deal. Everything stood still. While the government derided the masses, the helpless masses also remained blunt. Like a Yoruba wise saying: “Bi adie ba da mi loogun nu,emi naa a si fo leyin”. (Meaning: If a fowl pours away my charm, I will also break its egg as a revenge”). Not until the NLC and the civil society groups met severally with the government representatives, Nigerian people would not retreat. The fuel pump price was finally pegged at #97 as against the #141 that the government had earlier fixed. Then, it was, “Oh ye back to you tent”, as everybody resumed to work to face the new challenges ahead of them. After all, life must go on.
It beats me silly that almost all the programmes which the SURE-P was designed to achieve still continue to remain elusive. The Jonathan government had painstakingly spelt out its plan for the economic and social transformation of the country with the vast sum to be realised from the subsidy removal in a bid to revamp our comatose transport system that is causing the untimely death of hundreds of people daily, portable water supply, the “Almighty” electricity supply which has so far defied all solutions, poor road networks, youths employment, investment opportunities,quality health and education facilities, agricultural development, etc. In fact, the list is endless.
Now, of all these aforementioned essential programmes, how many of them have been taken up successfully by the government? Not a single one! Too bad!
The average Nigerian citizen views the government agenda with mistrust and suspicion; while the government has done nothing to revive their hope. Don’t blame the Nigerian people. Why? They are living witnesses to a litany of broken promises, shattered dreams and hope betrayed from one administration to the other.
I recently replied to a tweet from one of the few former ministers, Dr. @obyezeks that I have respect for, because of her astounding performances during OBJ administration. Her passion for a better Nigeria and Africa as a continent is unparalleled. She tweeted, “#SecuritySectorReform: Such DEEP DISTRUST of GOVT can only be REVERSED by a series of CONSISTENT and CREDIBLE ACTIONS that IMPROVE things”. And I replied her, @myunicy:” Madam, the lacuna between the government and the governed is so wide that it will take so many years to bridge it”. Madam Oby Ezekwesili replied me: “myunicy Yes but @ least start today and keep start”.
Even as the former minister tried to assuage my disbelief about the government, I seemed not to be convinced yet. No signs of seriousness from the government of the day still. What is the problem with the oil that the government has solely depended on? If the like of Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Western Region of Nigeria back then,could make some evergreen achievements-Cocoa House Building, University of Ibadan, Liberty Stadium, etc, with the revenue generated from cocoa. Shouldn’t our oil (oyel) be to our own advantages?
Going by the massive fraud taking at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, NNPC in collaboration with the PPRA, I see us taking no step forward. At the House of Reps ad hoc committee probe, they fed the public conflicting information. When the Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke told the committee that we consume 35 million litres of subsidised petrol daily, it was contradicted by the PPRA’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Reginald Stanley who gave it as 59 million litres. Only for Allison-Madueke to come up again to say the 35 million was only a “working estimate”. Well, me I no no book o!
As if that was not enough, Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that NNPC was not authorised to make the subsidy deductions at source; Allison-Madueke countered thar NNPC acted in tandem with the Appropriation Acts 2011 and Section 5 of the 1999 constitution in deducting subsidy cash at source. Then, Nigerian public were further perplexed.
It was the same subsidy payments by the Ministry of Finance to the oil marketers that caused the furore of the kidnap of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo’s mum. The strategy of “Strike at the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter” was employed by the oil marketers to get paid by the government; they kidnapped the mother of the woman who stood against the payment of their money and she will become jittery. Just as the presidency had a late night meeting with the leaders of the Senate to approve of #161billion to pay these oil marketers, the old woman who had been held incommunicado for five days was immediately released. On December 17th, 2012, madam “World Bank” confirmed this herself.
Now that the oil marketers whose claims whether genuine or fake have been verified and paid as they made us to believe. There is a tendency that the aggrieved oil marketers will want to do anything to get their own share of the national cake. How sure is Okonjo-Iweala that the bad guys will come after her again? Why did the kidnappers go for her family members and not the Maduekes? To me, it is high time Okonjo-Iweala threw in the towel and resign! If you will not be allowed to follow the due process as it is against their (oil marketers) own business as usual style, then the best thing is to call it quit. Though, I know you won’t resign because it is an alien culture in our own country.
Much as a big-game hunter relies on his rifle when brought face to face to face with a gorilla, Nigerian people again rely on the promises of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and look forward to seeing a better year 2013.
Season greetings to you all.
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