Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Life Chances: of ligatures and options

Growing up, I heard my parents and relatives speak about the time when Nigeria was good. ECN (Electricity company of Nigeria) was functioning, there were good roads, education was superb and it was only “dull children that went abroad for their first degree” etc. Then SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme, aka: sadness and pain) was introduced. Since then, Nigeria has been falling; the ditch she fell into has become expanded and widened. I was born the year SAP was implemented. What are my life chances?
Life chances are defined as the “sum total of opportunities offered to an individual by his society or by a more specific position occupied in society”. Life chances are divided into options and ligatures. Options are “choices or alternatives of action given in a social structure” while ligatures are bonds, linkages, and allegiances that give meaning to the place an individual occupies. This raises the question, what are the life chances of a carpenter, a teacher, a tomato seller, a cab driver, a newspaper vendor, honest businessman/woman, and civil servant in Nigeria compared to someone who comes from a wealthy family?
What are my options as a single civil servant who earns 18,000 per month?  In 2011, I determined that in 2012, I would learn a new skill and develop myself (for example learn how to use the computer so that I can move from a clerk to say an administrative assistant). I am so smart and I have figured out how to spend my money so that I achieve this goal. Then comes Jan 2, 2012 and I have to spend N600 on transport from Akute to Alausa. In a month, that is 12,000. I have N6, 000 to eat, pay my rent, cloth and do what? Am I not stuck in a cycle?
What are my options as a businessman with a family of four whose profit is N100, 000 after taxes, overhead, and recurrent costs? I would buy fuel for my generator, feed my family, pay fees and then what?
What are my life chances if I live in Northern Nigeria and I am not assured of seeing the next minute and my government justifies the removal of a so-called “fuel subsidy” because deregulation would encourage the ownership of new refineries. Who would come and build a refinery with Nigeria’s state of security?
What are the life chances of a Nigerian when the minister of finance states that the proceeds from “fuel subsidy” would be used “for development of vocational training skills. In this country, typically, when we are building a house, we find out most of the carpenters, plumbers and other artisans that we engage are foreigners from Togo, Niger and other neighbouring countries. Why? When we have our youth who are unemployed?  Why can’t we train them to be able to render such services? We are going to train them.” Really! Vocational training!! Our counterparts in China and India are carving niches in IT.
Nigeria’s constitution states the “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Nigeria’s government has failed to fulfill these purposes and yet asks Nigerian people to make sacrifices. Nigerians have been promised Canaan (at least that me I know of) since 1986 and we have still not left Egypt.
I don’t think that any Nigerian is calling on the government to become a nanny- we are a very enterprising and self-sufficient people-. I believe that all we ask for is enable us create opportunities that would improve our quality of life. All we ask for is not to be constrained through inhumane policies.

P.S: The federal government says mass transit buses have been purchased - campaign after election. TUC (Trade Union Congress) has refuted the claim that the expected buses were procured by the federal government. Peter Esele, the president of TUC stated that the buses were procured by the TUC not FG. Who is to be trusted?
On another hand,  is transportation the only sector affected by fuel subsidy?

1 comment:

  1. First in the Government's mind, once they sort out transport, other things would be sorted. They are not that far from the truth because when such issues happen, we see that it is the transport business that gets affected first. They increase their prices and everything else goes bunkers from then on. So if they sort that out, and are able to keep the cost of moving things and people up and then, part of the problem is sorted. If I can leave my car @ home and am sure I can get a bus @ d normal price to take me anywhere, I don't need to spend much money on fuel. If trains worked properly and I know I can take a train from Ibadan to Lagos and take a bus from the train station, I don't need to take my car out. Max I take the car out when I have a party to attend or church. The market woman too won't have to increase her price if she can get her goods at the same price. That aside. For a country of over 150 million, 1600 buses. Are you kidding me? Eyan melo lo fe serve? Wrong priorities.

    Truth is the removal isn't a bad thing. Where the issue lies is that FIRST, this government can't be trusted. You get into power and within how many weeks, the excess crude oil account is empty. You bring in a know IMF person abi na World Bank (organizations that have been killing us since before I was born) to head the finance industry. You budget ridiculous amounts for your trips, feeding (and remember, from this year, we are meant to be eating cassava bread; no more importing wheat and rice YET u budget that much for your own food; no bi the same thing we dey chop again)? Cut down on your own excesses and gradually cut down on the excess of the private sector. Remove the speck in your own eye before removing the log in the others. Use the savings from your own excesses to build the necessary infrastructure. I don't blame them, tis our money they live on so they are not bothered.