President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is back again with his half baked solutions to Nigeria’s tough eonomic problems.
The 5 billion naira per state palliative he is proposing is a joke. It does not even begin to scratch the surface of the challenges posed by his removal of petrol subsidy.
On the surface, 5 billion naira appears to be a large sum of money, but in the context that it is supposed to provide economic relief to millions of people, it is less than Chicken Feed!
According to the Federal Government, it was subsidizing petrol price to the tune of 40 billion naira per day. This implies that Nigerians were consuming at least that amount worth of oil every day. This PALLIATIVE initiative of 5 billion naira for 37 states translates to 185 billion naira for the whole country. When 185 billion is divided by 40 billion, the real value of the 5 billion naira palliative is exposed. If it is used to provide relief in the oil price to Nigerians , it will last for a mere 4 days.
The impact of 5 billion naira palliative per state is even more superficial if it spreads along population lines. In heavily populated *states like Lagos, and Kano ,it amounts to a paltry #200 to #250 naira per person. In smaller states like Ekiti, Ebonyi and Kebbi* *citizens will receive about 950 naira each.*
By definition, Palliative is treatment without curing (Webster College Dictionary). And by nature it is minimal, temporary and superficial.
What Nigeria’s economy needs is not this type of short sighted , small minded approach. In order to grow the economy, the government must increase revenue with which it can meet its obligation to subsidize Transportation, Health, Power, Food, Education, and yes , PETROL!
This government can raise all the funds it needs to sustain a subsidy regime by collecting unpaid revenues and taxes from government agencies like CBN, FIRS , and NPA. As well as if it confronts the colossal waste and theft in NNPCL.
The country can maximize profits from crude oil by encouraging private sector operation of refineries. It is also imperative that other minerals which abound in the country such as Gold, Uranium, Bauxite, led, Bitumen and Lithium are explored and added to oil as sources of foreign revenue.
The idea of placating the populace with palliatives is ridiculous. And telling the states that the 5 billion naira palliative is a loan is insulting.
What is needed for economic well being is not palliatives, but wholesome economic policies whiçh will lead to increased employment.
To apply the metaphor of self reliance: giving people palliatives is tantamount to giving them fish with which they can only eat for a day. Creating jobs and providing employment on the other hand will create a platform to eat perpetually.
Adetokunbo Pearse (PhD) is a public affairs analyst.