Not a few Nigerians will forget President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in a hurry. He came to the throne of Nigeria in Abuja amidst social-media induced popularity and got booted out through the instrumentality of the same social media. He was booted out with the innovative Permanent Voters Card and the Card Reader.
Two weeks to departing Abuja for his village in Otuoke, Jonathan’s infamous administration chose to inflict on Nigerians, perhaps as a way of punishing every one, a most excruciating agony. Three basic and vital needs of life, electricity, water and petrol were forced out of the reach of every urban dweller.
Without electricity people who have for long been the providers of their water could not energise their pumping machines, so, there was no water in the house. Electricity which had for long been epileptic became virtually non-existent. And because of the massive fraud in the so-called subsidiary nonsense petrol disappeared from gas stations and people were compelled to purchase gas at exorbitant prices from black marketers.
Nigeria has never known this kind of triple agony in its whole life.
It is incredible that some one who claims to have a PhD degree would demonstrate the kind of kindergarten administration Jonathan exposed Nigerians to these past years and would want to depart the chair he had sat on for six years with smelly faeces.
Jonathan and his stealing team simply chose to inflict pain on Nigerians and they did so in a very big way.
But we are tempted to be generous to Jonathan in the aspect of this fuel scarcity and say that the problem even though worsened by the fraud of oil subsidy did not start with Dr Jonathan. General Olusegun Obasanjo who foisted the lame duck Jonathan on Nigerians was himself the Minister of petroleum for 8 years! Certainly if he had succeeded in laying a solid foundation in that sector, ensuring that our refineries were performing at optimum capacity instead of sadistically jerking up pump prices, we would probably have not been in this mess.
Be that as it may, Jonathan had six years to right whatever wrong Obasanjo might have committed in that sector. After all a government is voted into power to solve existing problems and prevent problems from occurring.
I had to go to Victoria Island in Lagos last week where I was inducted as a patron of the Engineer Toyin Ajani led Junior Chamber International, Victoria Island Chapter; it was a most harrowing experience for me. Guests complained of their bitter experiences and the bitter pill they had to swallow from the hands of road side black market racketeers of petrol. Curses were rained on Jonathan and his family as well as his roguish ministers.
It was really not the best way to vacate office and hand over to a successor. And I am not sure if Jonathan is having any peace of mind as we speak with our pen. To make matters worse the man continued to make reckless last minute appointments while sacking people he thought betrayed his long-term agenda.
Nigerians should not be made to go through this nasty experience ever. It is worrisome that the world’s fifth producer of oil and which is also the world’s sixth largest exporter of crude oil has no single refinery working at optimum capacity. It is a shame that Nigeria continues to shamelessly send its crude abroad to be refined and then sold to Nigerians at exorbitant prices. This is the only oil producer that goes through this humiliating cycle.
The new government headed by Muhammadu Buhari must tackle this nauseating scenario headlong. Professor David West and fiery Pastor Tunde Bakare two great incorruptible Nigerians whose voices carry a lot of moral authority have submitted that there is actually nothing called Oil Subsidy. What exists, they argue, is sharing of money at the highest level by those in power and their cronies who roam the corridors of power. This must stop. It must stop today. If any marketer believes that he or she is owed money they should go after Jonathan at Otueke or pursue rosy-cheeked Okonjo-Iweala to her desk in the US.
In the short term, anybody who wants to import petroleum to sell should be allowed to do so, but Government should not contract any one to import fuel.
Refineries must be made to function again while private investors must be encouraged to build small and medium refineries across the land so that in no distant future petrol will be as readily available, at affordable prices, as mobile telephony.
I am yet to see any economic sense in awarding oil blocks to private individuals. As a country that derives its sustenance from a mono-culture economy, it beats my imagination that some powerful billionaires are awarded commanding heights of our single product. Let all oil blocks revert to the federal government while government empowers our Naval forces to effectively police and prevent all leakages.
This is a government brought to power on the platform of a Cry-for-Change. That change must begin to begin in all sectors of our national life and must begin with the menace of the petroleum sector. There is no need to dwell on the scarecrow that rode roughshod on our oil ministry and whose arrogance, impunity and alleged massive fraud had brought Nigeria to her knees!
As Jonathan departs our Presidential Chair and cools off at the creeks, it is our prayer that Nigeria does not again witness the kind of tomfoolery that had choked the country these past six years. It has been a nightmare. And nothing accentuates that feeling more than the agonizing manner Jonathan waved Abuja ‘Good bye’!
Honestly, I am just about recovering my breath after our great Jonathan fouled the air surrounding preparations for my once- in- a –life- time 70th birthday.