Monday, October 15, 2007

Petroleum: What Benefit To Nigerians?

Wednesday, 06 October 2004

The only one thing Nigeria has in almost infinite abundance is petroleum oil. And yet, refined petrol in Nigeria is skyrocketing in prices, and this, has resulted in upward uncontrollable spiral in prices of goods and services and hyperinflation in Nigeria

Now, the price of crude oil in the world market is at its highest, for the first time since 1981 and yet, this has not resulted in a windfall for the average Nigerians! But instead, the pump-price for petrol in Nigeria has quadrupled multiple times in twelve months. The other sectors of the Nigerian economy have not recovered from decades of battering and barrages of shocks to it, coupled with corruption or its twin, mismanagement.

These unregulated increases in petroleum products, especially in the past year, is an extremely bad policy, it is so, because the federal government is breeding social discontent in the masses by not protecting Nigerians from further harsh effects and shocks of the abject economic conditions, permeating Nigeria.

Unfathomably, the policy wonks and governments in Nigeria are relying on failed economic theories of money supply, as reason for refusing to release excess or surplus crude oil revenues, revenues that have accrued to Nigeria, since the beginning of this year. The government itself, through its wayward policies, is unwittingly contributing to inflation, as the prices of goods and services are bound to react upwardly, as manufacturers and marketers, are bound to adjust prices to reflect the added overhead cost, from petrol and its byproducts. Fuel is the engine-room of every national economy, fuel drives productions and transportations, fuels drive even recreation and leisure. Frequent increases in fuel prices, is punishing for the already devastated Nigerian and it is equally debilitating for the Nigerian economy, overall.

These are of course, exacerbated a hundred-fold, by the greedy nature of some humans, the pump-price is bad enough, but, it much worse in the overall snowball or domino effects, scarcities and price gouging are predictably definite results, at least in the short term. Hence the economic indices emanating from Nigeria are just unimaginably painful.

Nigerians have endured abject poverty long enough, the suffering and extreme hardships in Nigeria, ought to concern our government. I am amazed and in wonderment about public policies in Nigeria. We produce petrol, which currently commands much money and world attention. Nigerian government for some dubious economic reasons, would not subsidize the pump-price of petrol and what is worse?, the Nigerian government will also refuse to plough the windfall from increased revenue from petroleum, into the economy? Arguing that such increased money in circulation will cause inflationary pressures to the economy! The truth is, there is hyperinflation in Nigeria, principally, as a result of frequent fuel price increases, among other reasons.

This is a case of the best farmer, with the most harvest, feeding on the worst crops! Nigeria is having a bumper harvest, but in famine, starving? This is incredibly ludicrous

Where is the social safety net for the average Nigerian in all these? Where is the human face of President Obasanjo’s economic policies? Why is President Obasanjo and his economic advisers continuing to pursue failed SAP and other policies of government, that have failed woefully and miserably?

It is pure unadulterated lunacy, for the Nigerian government to continue to pursue these stifling economic policies, policies that have driven a generation of Nigerians to their early untimely deaths or emigration out of Nigeria, policies that have made life in Nigeria unbearably hard, hence foreign embassies in Nigeria are forever crowded, Nigerians, having come to the painful belief, that anywhere but Nigeria is better.

How can the government believe that these dispiriting economic policies are better, (even for a nanosecond) than inflation? Inflation is surely better than countless deaths and national conflagration! I am of the view, that a release of excess or surplus revenue from the crude oil sale, windfall, would not cause any more economic upheaval, worse than, what Nigerians have already endured in the past two decades.

We understand the government’s logic, saving or conserving for the rainy-day and all, but, as important as that is, the government should pursue economic and social policies that protects and preserves the lives of Nigerians still alive, and more, who is to say, that the unpredictable or even, volatile oil market, will not continue to experience upward movement or increases? Why are the Nigerian policy wonks adamantly insisting, that crude oil prices can only go down? Is it not likely, that the crude oil prices could remain high or even higher, than we have it now?

Must Nigeria pursue public policies, as if with blinders on? Does Nigeria have economic policy makers who are behaving like zombies? Or are they too embarrassed or arrogant to reverse courses, even as their policies have failed, again and again, over the years?
Why does our government continue to act, as if deaf and blind to the hardships and sufferings in the land? Is the government impervious to the reality of life in Nigeria today? Or what explains the government’s inability to change course?

Naira has continued a downward spiral of unbridled and unfettered devaluations, the monetary policies that led to it, have not changed the fortunes of Nigerians one bit!
Nigeria’s productive capacity has not increased and foreign investments have not arrived in Nigeria in trickles, not to talk of deluges, exports remain at very low ebb! What then, are these idiotic economic policies for? What purpose do fine economic theories serve a dead, frustrated, dispirited Nigerian? These idiotic economic policies have damaged our national psyche, just as the policies have affected our morality and national security.

Nigerians have been pummeled economically, for so long, Nigerians are no longer proud, as it were, traversing Nigerian soil or the world with swaggers. What are the values of economic policies, if and when such policies are of no benefits to Nigerians, or when such policies have been proven over time, to be harshly detrimental to a majority of Nigerians? Nigerians are still thirsty in the ocean of abundance! What is the benefit of petroleum and what indeed is the purpose of government?

I am confounded by the deafness and blindness of our policy makers!

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