A FORMER Aviation Minister and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Osita Chidoka, said the next Nigerian President should be able to explain the dilemma of ‘Fulani herdsmen’ and how it is affecting the unity of the Nigerian state.
Chidoka also said the incoming President should be able to fix Nigeria’s fledgling economy through sound economic policies, and do away with subsidies in petroleum, electricity, power sector and foreign exchange.
The former Aviation Minister, who spoke in a monitored broadcast on Wednesday in Abuja, said the government must find a way to redirect subsidies into Nigerians’ pockets through policies that support innovations and growth of the economy.
“In Nigeria, we have to re-define electricity because it is not a social good; it is a capital good. We have lots of subsidies in the electricity sector running into billions. We need to unlock the power sector to attract private sector investments,” Chidoka said.
On foreign exchange subsidies and arbitrage concerns, he said, “We need to deal with FX subsidies. The government gives out FX at N414 through the Central Bank, and in the import and export window the price varies, with the black market price selling at about N590 to a dollar. This is not healthy for the economy and we need a President that will address that.”
Chidoka said Nigeria needs a President that can explain the dilemma of ‘Fulani herdsmen’ to Nigerians, and its negative impacts on Nigeria’s unity.
“There is the simple issues of herding of cattle and supply of protein to the South, which is what the Fulani herdsmen are doing as part of our national food security.
“Now, how do we transition their business from the open grazing strategy they built over the years to a new ranching solution?
“This will require a President with the confidence of Nigerians that the issue is not a land grab, and neither is it a Fulani acquisition of land from Nigerians.
“That confidence restoration is needed from the incoming President,” he said.
Chidoka stressed that part of the task for the next president would be to figure out a way to manage the concern of marauding herdsmen that is tearing the unity of Nigeria apart.
He further stated that doing away with subsidies by the next president would not be enough, as he stressed the importance of transparency in managing the subsidy funds for developmental projects.
He further said that the woud-be President shoud also be able to turn around Nigeria’s economy and get money into Nigerians’ pockets with sound economic policies.
Aside Chidoka, a foremost economist, Bismark Rewane, said subsidies as a reverse tax was a consumption tax that benefits few.
Rewane said, “Subsidies are reverse taxes, and reverse taxes mean you’re actually subsidising consumption rather than production.
“Petrol is going for N165 per litre in Nigeria. We’ve seen the consumption of petrol in Nigeria increase at 15 times higher than the growth of the GDP.”
He added that the rise in volume of petroleum consumption, which he explained did not correspond with the gross domestic growth, pointed to smuggling.
“How can the economy be growing at below 3 percent and petrol consumption grows at 16 per cent in 5 years?
“We have gone from 30 million litres a day when the economy was growing at 5-6 percent to 103 million litres a day,” he said.
Rewane, while stressing the importance of allowing a price reflective price, maintained it was obvious a greater part of subsidised petroleum product is being smuggled, and even recycled.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.