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As it was in the beginning … Queues have returned to our filling station By Dr Nma Olebara (FCAI)

The fact that Nigeria has many problems is no longer news. That this our beloved country is bedeviled by social, political, religion and economic problems is understandable to every Dick and Harry.

I said it that deregulation like the previous privatization witnessed in this country, instead of improving efficiency and ensure progress and development will simply hand over public institutions to few private hands that will do as they like to the detriment of the poor masses.

Today, my prophesy has been fulfilled. They are now selling fuel at their own rate in order to make double profit because government has no hand in it. Government has removed fuel subsidy and life has become unbearable for the poor. Now that more money is accruing to government and poverty and suffering have become the lot of the poor masses; of what use is it?

I felt tired of buying a litre of fuel at N150 and decided to check those that sell N97, was shocked with what I saw. The impression any person coming to this place is that Nigeria is a country where no one is in charge. It reminded me of the time soldiers whipped us into line queuing. On fuel queue everything goes haywire. Decent people lose their sense of decency and decorum, touts jump queues, buy in containers and return to sell at four times the pump price. If you are a gentleman with a little extra to spare you are bound to patronize them to avoid denting your car from rickety and impatient keke and commercial drivers.

Fuel Queues have returned to Nigeria that ranks among the seven world greatest producers of crude oil, yet one of the greatest importers of refined oil. It is sad that we have crude oil and we are selling it. Nigerians are buying petrol, diesel and kerosene at costs far higher than non crude producing countries after spending hours under the sun, some even sleep in the filling stations.

Others abandon the comfort of their home to join the queen as early as 3am. The queues extend traffic to the major roads, drain your purse and sometimes no guarantee that you will get the fuel. Is this what we bargained for?   It is sad that the president who promised Nigerians better life and fresh air during his presidential campaign has turned round to impose draconian economic policy whose socio-economic consequences on the masses are very unbearable. Is the power given to the president, to oppress, abuse or degrade the citizens? Is it not to protect the citizen’s fundamental rights, interests and welfare?

All over the world, nobody queues for fuel, not even in Cotonou, Togo and Ghana where the product is not produced.

Nigeria had earned unprecedented and unaccountable revenue from the global oil boom but nothing to show for it. Is it our economy that is improving or even good governance that we have? What of our teeming jobless graduates and other cadres of idle but able Nigerians.

With all the God-given potentials endowed with this country for greatness, poverty looms as most Nigerians are hungry and practically denied access to basic needs of life, no reliable electricity, portable water, dispensaries not to talk of hospitals, manageable not motorable roads, railways etc. 80% of Nigerians are said to be living below poverty level. Nigeria is still ranked among the 20th poorest counties of the world by the world Bank.

The primary and fundamental objective of government is the maintenance of basic security, public order and general welfare of the people. We are running government without the people. Governance is all about putting the people first. Any action and performance that do not put the people on the priority list as no 1 has failed. Any government that drives its citizen to a desperate situation is a non viable government. The youths and students are frustrated and depressed across the land which now affects their minds and education.

We have all it takes to develop this country but she is held ransom by some greedy and selfish leaders. Good leadership is a luxury in Nigeria. We live a life of deceit and lies. That is Nigeria for us, a country where extravagance and looting have become fashionable among public holders. A country where evil has been allowed to bestride and ravage our polity unchallenged.

This is Nigeria where the citizens endure all things from rigging of election, to imposition of political leaders, the abysmal performance of these leaders to looting of our common wealth. Nigerians are perpetually groaning, embarrassing tracked, wondering and gallivanting aimlessly without proper nurturing and guidance. The poor masses are always at the receiving end all the time. When it comes to belt tightening, its for them, when it comes to sacrifices, the poor masses too. What can the poor masses do? They can make all the noise after all, they are barking dogs that can make all the noise but cannot bite even when wounded.

Any leadership that does not positively touch on or inspire the led and remain insensitive to their yearnings and aspiration is a failure.

We have all made mistakes and must find out ways of solving our problems. We lack transparency and accountability. We cannot continue with ceremonial leaders who feel unconcerned about the welfare of the people. Now is time to hold leaders accountable. It takes focused and strong leadership to do the extra ordinary, tackle corruption head long without mercy, not minding whose ox is gored.

Nigerians must now resist dictatorship, injustice, nepotism, exploitation and undemocratic practices, because a nation with reactive and not proactive citizen can never flourish.

We charge our leaders to make a u-turn and realize that they have a responsibility, change from the nonchalant attitude they show to the plight of the people to real commitment.

This fuel crisis is a critical situation that requires urgent and drastic solution.

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Christian Voice