Essays / The Pontifical Papers

SO YOU’RE TOO SMART TO PROTEST? I AGREE! | A Social Plea by Ayo Sogunro

The President is Not Better than You Are, or Maybe Not

I have a few words for you.

After spending about seven hours walking in protest on the long, hot highway from Yaba to Ojota, I went back home cramped and tired. I got to my little kitchen and discovered insufficient cooking gas. There was nothing else available to eat. I grabbed a can of beer and crashed on the sofa hungrily wondering what the hell possessed me to go out protesting the fuel subsidy removal (#fuelsubsidyremoval) in the first place.

In fact, I could accommodate the financial effects of the subsidy removal. It would cost me some more thousands of naira in my monthly budget. I would have to reduce my savings. My dependents would be forced to accept less than usual from me. But I have a fairly comfortable job, and like the President sermonised, in the long run, I would adjust my lifestyle to the new way of life.

But why should I adjust my lifestyle to the new way of life? Why not the President himself?

Come on, you say, the president is The President.

Oh, I see! But I have a few questions too.

The President has a more generous kitchen budget, but does his family have better and more expensive taste buds than mine? I don’t own a car, and he has several—does his body have to be carried around in separate pieces? When I fly, I go by Dana, Aero and Arik, he flies in several luxurious “presidential” bomb-proof aircraft—is his life more precious than mine? If he wants to enjoy all of these, then let him do as I do! Let him work his ass off 8am to 6pm daily in a private sector job! Then he will be entitled to the fruits of his sweat and not that of the Petroleum Profits Tax.

But if you think the President is clearly God and I am a mere mortal, then, fine. You are right. I should not protest against God—I will adapt my own economics to the new reality.

But how about those who have only enough to eat, how do they adjust to the new reality? Why not let us just save ourselves the trouble of killing them in the long run and just do it now and fast? Let’s just round up every family that lives on less than N300,000 in a month and every individual that lives on less than N100,000. We will put them in concentration camps and have them shot in batches. It will be quicker and less expensive. Think of the benefits! We can clear the commercial buses off the road and have them plied by private cars alone. No more stinking markets, just shopping malls. No more street beggars, no more hungry relatives. It will be just like the paradise promised by religious teachers! Indeed, the President is God!

Economists are not Hungry People—Except Your High School Teacher

Wait a bit, you say. This is about advanced economics.

Of course, it is about advanced economics. There are few things that confuse an average human being more than advanced economics. Even economists are stumped by advanced economics. Now, throw in African, plus Nigerian, add illiterate and a dash of religious—and you get the perfect combination of naïve and ignorant. With a citizenry where that combination is in the majority, you can get away with anything in the name of advanced economics. I mean, any-fucking-thing. So the President gambled on this factor and he’s planning to get away with his retarded economic policy.

Luckily, simple economics on the other hand is what it is—simple. Question 1: You have N1000. You know if you spend above that you’re broke. If you spend below that, you can save something. You decide whether you want to be broke or not—either way, you know what’s cooking. It’s so simple primary school students can solve it using basic arithmetic. We may be confused by advanced economics, but we are experts at simple economics. Simple economics tells us that the subsidy removal would leave us broke. As a test, let’s give the Minister of Finance N50,000 and have her manage it as a livelihood for a month without going broke, then maybe she’ll understand the true meaning of simple economics. My mother does it every month without running into debt. And if my mother says she can’t do this with the subsidy removal, then that does it for me.

I am tired of getting smoke-screened by the so called economic benefits of subsidy removal. I agree there is a benefit somewhere for someone (and maybe even for me if I know where to look), but I do not want to suffer to get IT—especially when IT is an undefined and non-specific theory. At least the Israelites knew they were getting “milk and honey” not just “benefits”. So to hell with these economic benefits. The only person who can convince me otherwise is my high school economics teacher on minimum wage.

Anyone not on a budget of less than N80,000 per month should shut the fuck up about the benefits of fuel subsidy removal. Anyone in a tailored suit who doesn’t shut up about the benefits of fuel subsidy removal should be stuffed in a drum of petrol and sent down the River Niger.

 

You May Be Too Smart To See the Obvious

Just in case the economic benefits theory convinced you and you’re feeling smarter than us ignorant folk who can’t do calculus to save our limbs from being torn to pieces, hang on a bit.

See, I agree with you. The subsidy removal is economically correct and IMF sanctioned. Maybe, my mother and a few other financially unfit persons would be killed off. So what? Charles Darwin had already written that this was inevitable in life, we’re only adding a new twist to it. The survival of the financially fittest.

Now how about you? Would you trust a swindler because he makes sense? The longer you look at a 419 scam the more sensible it becomes. Always trust your first instinct and walk away. The first instinct of the public is that this policy smells, and it smells bad. To you, this may look like the best idea since Lugard invented Nigeria in 1914, but government ideas always look that way. Every time. 1960 to date has not been bereft of ideas. But sometimes, ideas can be a distraction from the obvious.

What’s the obvious, you ask? One, the fuel subsidy removal could be a graduated process—you start with 5% and work it over to 100% over 5 years. For every percentage removed, equal social development is set in place. Two, if we need to encourage hasty foreign investment, all we need to do is remove the legal and tax bottlenecks imposed on doing business:  we reduce fees for governor’s consent, reduce stamping fees, reduce capital gains tax, reduce NAFDAC and other agency fees, reduce customs duties, reduce a hundred other fees! Three, if we need to conserve money, then we should split the budget of the legislature into half and then subtract another N100 million from it!

Obvious things!

Too obvious!

But I bet, if they did all that, you and your family will stop benefiting from this oil money too. Right? So let I and my family suffer instead? Not likely.

Try and Be An Average Nigerian, Just For Today

But let’s forget all of the above. Let me just plead with you.

You’re smart and rich or maybe your daddy pays the bills so you don’t give a fuck about the protest (#occupyNigeria). Maybe you’re like me—not wealthy, but comfortable. But think of this, how many people like yourself do you know? They can’t be many or they won’t call your social circle exclusive. Then think, how many like yourself do you see around every day? Fewer. For every two people in a car, there are thirteen more people in a bus—and that’s just a randomly generated fact. Even if you live in the fortresses of Maitama or Ikoyi, you are surrounded by gardeners, househelps, drivers, salesgirls, and others.

Forget the big business owners you rub shoulders with, it is their employees and the small business owners that matter in this protest. No one has asked you to donate your money to other people or increase staff salaries. No, you have a right to your money. This is not socialism or communism. This is about public funds and government spending. It is about popular demand. It is about democracy. It will not hurt you to lend a voice and more.

But it will hurt all of us very much, if you do not.

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27 thoughts on “SO YOU’RE TOO SMART TO PROTEST? I AGREE! | A Social Plea by Ayo Sogunro

  1. I agree totally!!! They feed us bull shit about how it would be ‘good’ for us in the long run and give us the filth called diesel buses and train to pacify us. do they know the constant struggle it is to wake up every morning, struggle to work and pray that there will be no ruckus to make us spend extra? do they know the pains and the constant calculation that goes on in our heads over our meagre salaries??? do they know how we go to bed, wondering where our lives are going and when all of this will be alright??? I believe in Karma but this one time I believe we should take matters into our own hands. No one should insult us by calling us happy people; happy people who live in degradation and close our eyes to the theiveing and scheming authorities we have. You, there, you….do not shut your eyes or your ears, its is your problem as well as it is mine. Lets us get the h**l off our butts and do something about this situation!!!!

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  2. i do feel your pain, its funny how they think bringing someone to talk fancy economic terms, and say the IMF supports it is supposed to make all of us fall under a spell. why dont they line us up and make us act in a puppet show. msheew! its not like the country is dependent on other forms of revenue, i don’t blame them, they are not affected by the rippling effect of the subsidy removal. God help us all

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  3. This write up speaks the mind of the average Nigerian. The real issue here is not just the fuel subsidy removal but corruption. Will the funds not go into the pockets of the corrupt leaders? When price of fuel was increased several times during the Obasanjo regime what changes did we see? Nigerians are tired of empty promises.

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  4. U have indeed spoken the minds of many Nigerians. We,Nigerians have been oppressed alot by those in authority,who leaves us with empty promises that never came to realisation. It time for us to stand for the truth. Well done!!

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  5. ayo, very well said. You will also remember that if d thieves had built fully running refineries over years, it takes a few years to build one, they will make d life of an average nigerian easier but i guess that’s dumb economics. Other fuel producing companies do not mistreat their subjects . And then did they factor in inflation since ppl shoot up prices wen ever they increase the fuel price. They r d dumb ones ayo, their advanced economics will not make sense to them.

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  6. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. This is the time for us as Nigerians to say no to fuel subsidy removal, no to corrupt politicians. Let’s finally #OccupyNigeria! God bless Nigeria!

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  7. Nice piece!
    The fact is that i see this government as irresponsible and unserious.They claim some people have been been making illegal money from the oil subsidy and cannot even do anything to those people probably because those cabals funded their campaigns or have some strong facts they can unleash as blackmails if the government dares to harass them.
    Nigerians should not be confused on this scam in the name of economics!!
    Do you know that there are 5 Nigerians still in power and making most of this noise that can pay the fuel subsidy for the next 10 years with the money they’ve stolen!!!

    Its time for Name and Shame!!!

    Obinna Ogbanufe

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  8. 2face already sang in one of his songs “that dem want to tell us another story again ooo;dem want to code another coding again oooo”. we all know about their policy makings and statements are always shortlived so they shouldnt bother giving us feeble stories about reduction of basic salaries by 25%,reduction in recurrent expenditures and all those craps. it’s high time Nigerians woke up from the slumber to wage war against all these oppressors.lets #OccupyNigeria

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  9. 2months down d line and I’m reminded of all d pains again.
    I usually queue @NNPC to ensure I get fuel @ ₦97 and den beg to get them to sell in gerrican for my gen. Today they did not accept my pleas. I had to buy fuel @ ₦130 from AP(recently reduced from 150) (right in the President’s state).
    As I bought it, I tried to reassure myself that the 5L diff in d usual ₦2000 qty I bought wasn’t a big deal. It dint work.
    I tried to ignore the attendant that tried to cheat me of ₦50: it wasn’t her fault, the same system that allowed her to make a fortune from minor thefts ensured our leaders occupy their present posts.
    My buying fuel @ that amount signified lies told by a president! I tried to imagine all the other little ongoing deciets that were yet to come to full bloom. I remember watching the ‘live’ broadcast where he stated dt nnpc wd sell @ 97 and other stations wd sell a few nairas above that! O well, I guess ₦33 is still a few nairas above. Pardon me! How was it that before the removal of subsidy that we cd buy fuel @ ₦65 from ALL stations? What happened
    Most hilarious is that this development occurs in only the south south south regions of bayelsa, rivers state, regions of delta and imo state! Most of these regions refused to protest the glarring lies in january cos he is ‘our son’ and its ‘our own oil’! Aii, who’s gonna help u scream out now while u bear d burdens of a 300% increase rise in transportation within bayelsa (that started when d pump prices were transiently raised to ₦139-150 but were never reduced when pump price became ₦97!)
    My annoyance today wasn’t with GEJ anylonger! It was with the system. The system that permits all these! Growing up, I often heard terms like ‘accepting defeat’, ‘impeachment’, ‘bowing out when the ovation is highest’, ‘vote of no confidence’! What ever happened to these terms? We seem to have forgotten that ordering a meal @ a restaurant and then finding it unappealing afterwards is no reason why u must endure the meal!
    We have yet to imbibe the culture of checkmating.
    A system that checkmates would put Mr President on his toes; ironically, those who have that task need more checkmating!
    A system that checkmates would ensure that ghost workers are a thing of the past and then ultimately save the state huge amounts!
    A system that checkmates would constantly reminnd employees that the last appraisal they had would not be their emplloyment interview! O yes! U can be sacked for non performance!
    A sytem that checkmates would enforce laid down rules( in bayelsa, some policemen are still @ checkpoints of roads not in the general traffic! Cos they know no1 wd notice thei abscence @work that is if they r real policemen. It would also use bodies available for regulation of pump price of other stations to ensure sale is @ a reasonable amount)
    That sytem would ensure proper standard of our schools and hospitals to reduce the burden on those schools that are tired of looking @ applications from Nigeria! It wd also reduce d burden @ d Indian Embassy! They must believe that they r the best thing to happen to health for Nigeria. (A seasoned doctor of about 70yrs was in december rushed to india following his 2nd stroke. More money had to be spent transporting his corpse back. What did they want to achieve by going to India? Some miracle? Assumung it was for a removal of brain tumour, I wd have understood, but for medical management of stroke? Haba! I felt our health system was slapped! So also the current #saveoke campaign: the only reason y I am donating my widow’s mite to the case is cos it represents hope to Oke and to me, its not a big deal. I know his mind is made up on getting treatment in india! But then, let’s be rational, what is he going there for? How much of those limbs on the pictures I saw can be salvaged? His best bet is a bilateral below knee amputation. In the average nigerian general hosp is abt 40k just for the operation costs, we still do BKAs well. And then money can be invested in importing good prosthesis. Remind me how India came into this? )
    A system that checkmates would know the value of each citizen! Even if u think we r worthless, I’m sure the federal account doesn’t think so each time money for compensation to victims of bombblasts are withdrawn! When would we indeed start winning d war against terrorism? Not d type of winning he repeats each time there’s a blast! When would we stop praying before we enter a church that there wd be no bomblast! I remember the battle I had with myself before I went for midnight mass on newyear’s eve! My mom dint even make it! She prayed @ home. Yup!
    I recently watched impossible City, a 45min documentary on the Engineering/architectural wonders of Dubai! I couldn’t but marvel @ a group of ppl who’s passion was to etch the name Dubia in gold and forever make it scream from even space! Ppl passionate about their country and proud of doing it and even making a business of doing it! Come on, some1 tell me they have a different type of brain! Some1 tell me they were engineered to think differently! I my dear state the people that lead us have goals of ‘how fast can o loot!’ How do u explain an interim governor of less than 1month looting record amounts! U be winch? Of course he would! No1 checkmates him till he is gone and den EFCC attempts the age long Tom n Jerry game!
    A system that checkmates would do so much to help the president run the country! I’m so tired of being tired! The list is endless!
    Where is that light @ d end of the tunnel? Some1 please save us.

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    • Same as it has always been. Removing the fuel subsidy is merely an admittance of a lack of creativity in tackling the corruption in the oil sector. It is cutting the nose to spite the face.

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