The Precarious position of any society or nation could be traced to the unplanned foundations laid by her leaders and the government (those functionaries placed in charge of her welfare).
When such a country for instance experiences some spiteful conditions of living caused by her leaders such as chaos, injustices, moral decadence, bribery and corruption, social and economic problems become the lots of the citizens. This constitutes an irritating status quo for the people. George Shim disclosed in his book, "that worrying kills more people than disease does." Oh yes, only a dead person can doubt such assertion. No doubt that this situation of worries has equally become our inheritance in our country, Nigeria. It is a situation that our leaders (past and present) have very often heightened through their usually unforeseen hike of oil through the deceptive cloak of deregulatory procedures.
Suffice it is to say that, the deregulation could be a mischievous clever way by which our leaders have increased the weight of their purses without our realizing it. Hence, today it is asked: What is the reaction of the Nigerian Labour Congress over this anomaly? It is nation-wide strike actions. What is the prevalent utterance of our present leaders? It is that the world is a better place. And what is the fate of the Nigerian citizens? It is that the world is being converted to their inferno. Yes, every wise Tom, Dick and Harry can now notice that our country's rule of life and new motto is fast becoming, "Oil marketers, to live more, Nigerian leaders to live most, and the innocent citizens to face the consequences of the evils being committed by their leaders. What an unjust society!
The oil price saga is coming down memory lane; Nigeria has been classed amongst the richest oil producing nations. The records have had her as the seventh oil producing nation in the whole world, not until recently when the records have proved the notion of Nigeria's status with regards to oil production as erroneous, owing to the frequent unexpected oil scarcity prevalent rate in the Nigerian nation. This has always been coupled with hiking of the prices of petroleum products often tagged "deregulation strategy" by the past junta and the present incumbent democratic government. Our present government sticks vehemently to the notion that it is impossible for a nation to grow without a deregulation exercise or policy".
Today, even blind people or even enemies can strongly testify that leaders who are failures are always experts at introducing unnecessary and selfish programmes with some bewildered excuses. One may ask: What has been the opinions of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Nigerian masses on the deregulation exercise?
From a reliable source, it disclosed that the federal Government of Nigeria and the NLC ironically had agreed on the basic principles of deregulation of the down-stream sector of the oil economy of Nigeria, to ensure an adequate effectiveness through effective competitions.
But as the Labour Congress discovered later, the truth behind the policy, is that it has disagreed with the government noting that the process of the deregulation is closely associated with the unhealthy increase in oil prices; that the government creates scarcity of the petroleum products in order to press further her plan for the oil price increases.
However, we know that the fundamental principle of a deregulation could be realized through the presence of more than one force in a given economic sector of a nation(Oil Sector) etc. The oil sector can be deregulated by allowing other competitors into the field. This implies privately owned refineries operating along-side the government owned ones. This is a far cry from the present situation in the Nigeria system today. And with that, one wonders why the Nigeria government is being so economical with the truth and consequently being so wicked to her citizens.
Historically, the effect of deregulation began in Nigeria in 1987 during Gen.Ibrahim Babangida's regime as the Military president. Records have it that the pump price of petrol particularly was hiked from 20k per litre to 39.5k per litre.
In the following year, 1988, there was also a sudden increase which brought the price to 45k per litre. However, in March 1991, the price was hiked to 70k per litre. During this period, the masses posed certain questions on whether deregulation only meant an incessant hike in oil prices without any amelioration of the standard of living of the population. Despite, that the price was raised from 70k per litre to N3.25k representing more than a 300% increase. In October, 1994, the petrol price was again hiked from N3.25k to N11.00 per litre.
There is no gain saying the fact that during these periods the world had seemed turned up side down for the poor masses, with the untold economic hardships that then dawned on them. But little did they know that the worse days were still ahead!
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Henry Ekwuruke is Executive Director of the Development Generation Africa International.
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