The allegory of the frog that was placed in a jar of water and continued to adjust its body system to the increasing degrees of heated temperature till it eventually died, when it had theample opportunity to jump out of the jar, is quite a common allegory. In most recent times, it even appears that this allegory was coined specifically for Nigerians. My conclusion is based on the level of intolerable tolerance of Nigeria’s citizens in the face of the government’s stark confidence and continuous audacity in calling their bluffs.
Recently, the Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources of the NNPC, Mr. Sarki Anwalu hinted that pump price of petrol may increase to as much as 1000 naira per litre when the subsidy regime is actually ended without an alternative energy source. He made this statement in Lagos recently while delivering a paper at the Petroleum Business Dinner of the 2ndQuarter for year 2021. This submission ought to be taken more seriously, because the ending of subsidy regime is one of the most crucial agenda on the desk of the Federal Government, as they hopefully look towards the completion of the Dangote Refinery in Lagos. As already identified by Mr. Anwalu, the conversion of vehicle engines from petrol powered to gas powered is itself cost intensive, as according to his calculation, the conversion of eight million of such vehicles will cost approximately $3.2 billion.
Now, the question is this, instead of government embarking on another obviously resource consuming endeavour, why not embark on the most reasonable solution to the challenges of the oil sector in Nigeria which include: Rehabilitation and upgrading of the facilities in the major refineries in Nigeria,going into local processing of crude oil and production of fuel both for local consumption and exportation? What remains the bottleneck in the Nigerian oil sector that has been the hindrance of the government from achieving the liberalization of the oil sector? The subtle warning of the possibility of such outrageous increase in the pump price of fuel if subsidy removal is actually achieved, should ordinarily give Nigerians goose bumps and gear them towards action (even if it is precautionary) in sending a clear message to the government that such will not be toleratedand might court dire consequences.
In a similar trajectory, there is already pressure from international bodies such as the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the EIU (Economic Intelligence Unit), London for the government to increase Value Added Tax to 15% by 2025. For acountry that has become a regular client of such international economic bodies due to her unbridled penchant for borrowing in recent times, the likelihood that government will not heed such advice is very low, so as to be in good stead with the money lenders and continue to access ridiculous loans. In itself, the idea of increasing tax is not a bad one, as research shows that Nigeria’s tax regime remains one of the lowest on a global scale. However, where the problem lies is the usual hesitation of government to take decisions that will better the welfare of its citizens. If tax is going to be increased, then there should be a commensurate increase in the wages of Nigerian workers to cushion the inconveniences that may ensue as a result of such decision, but we all know how the story goes. The government has always dragged its foot in implementing policies to better the welfare of Nigerians, but will not hesitate to expend resources on policies that will boost its extractive capacities to keep taking without the readiness to give in return, while preaching endurance and patience to citizens with incessant blames on declining revenue due to difficult economic obstacles.
There is a fact that needs to be drummed into the heads of Nigerians – it is the fact that they should never be seduced to believe that the government lacks the resources to better the welfare of its citizens. The foremost American surgeon and politician, Ben Carson once said that citizens are often fooled to believe politicians can solve their problems when they actually end up complicating them.
As young students of philosophy, we always found it awkward when we read the works of the like of Kwame Nkrumah and his theory of “Consciencism”, Frederich Hegel’s “Law of Dialectics” and Karl Max’s emphasis on “Dialectical Tension” as a force of change in any society. These theories appeared too violence-oriented for us, as they unanimously opine that violent conflict is necessary for positive change in any society. One often wondered, is blood shed necessary to solve socio-political problems? Can we not apply reason in the solution to challenges in our society? We can make the political class see reason, rather than forceful overthrow? As we grew older in the midst of the socio-political realities of Nigeria as a country and beyond, we came to realize that the stand of the afore mentioned scholars and more, were actually valid. A look at the history of State formation of many countries will often prove this right – the French Revolution, the American Civil War, the Bolshevik Revolution of Russia among others are memorable proofs.
According to the accounts of Isaac Mint in his book “How the Revolution Was Won”, he hinted that during the build up to the Bolshevik Revolution that eventually overthrew Czarist Russia, Vladimir Lenin, the inspiration and leader behind the Revolution, in one of his writings, made it clear that the proletariat (working class) of Russia should not expect the authorities to be reasonable and sympathetic towards their agitations, as only a forceful takeover would resolve the crisis of oppression and underdevelopment in Russia. Events actually proved him right. The first revolution was non-violent and only led to nationwide civil unrest, but along the line, the authorities tried to hijack it and bribe prominent leaders of the revolution which made it an eventual failure. It was only the bloody revolution that unseated the Czarist regime that eventually brought an end to the corrupt system.
Succinctly put, the reason for the elaborate analysis is simply to prove a point. Nigerians will end up like the allegorical frog as dead meat, when we actually have the opportunity to escape our harrowing experiences, if we do not take our destiny in our hands. At this juncture in our country’s history, diplomatic talks, peaceful protests and incessant complains will never get the job done because or political class have developed a thick skin of insensitivity to the plight of the masses. It is time for us to take full advantage of the powers we have as a people under a democratic dispensation and demand accounts of stewardship from those steering the wheels of this country. Dialectical change should at this stage be seriously put into consideration. In the final analysis, the progress or doom of this country is ours to determine.