Welcome to #LeadershipLessons on #InspireAfricaProject! If you’re an avid reader of my articles you will discover that I hardly discuss politics. I deliberately stayed away from politics and political matters because staking your integrity on a politician can ruin your entire career. However, I want to draw some leadership lessons from the present debacle the ruling party found itself.
Let’s dig out the things some prominent members of APC said about fuel subsidy when they were the opposition party. In 2011, President Muhammadu Buhari, then in the opposition said, “Nigerians are being deceived on the issue of fuel subsidy. I am completely opposed to the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal government. Fuel subsidy does not exist.” On 11th May, 2016, five years later, the same President Muhammadu Buhari removed the fuel subsidy that does not exist.
On December 6th 2014, the poster boy of this present government, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), a man I respect so much said, “Now we should be enjoying cheap fuel if the price of oil has dropped globally. And even as we import the product, a major component has reduced in price. While this has reduced, the pump price of fuel in the country still remains the same. Something is wrong. If the price increases in the country when the price of oil goes up globally, then it should also reduce when the price of oil drops.
I understand that I am not an economist; they (Federal government) are the economist. But I have some logic and common sense to ask critical questions. For instance, if one buys flour at N10 per kilogram, and the bread is sold at N1 per loaf, if the price of flour drops, the price of the bread should also change.” On 11th May 2016, when the price of crude oil (the flour) is sold at about $47, the government Babatunde Fashola (SAN) is serving fixed the price of fuel (the bread) at N145 per liter, instead of reducing the price!
One of the most vocal supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari during the last election was Professor Tam David-West. Speaking to Vanguard Newspaper on April 14 2015, he said; “I want to assure you that by the time he takes over, petrol will be dispensed at N40 per litre. This is possible and he has the credibility to make it work.
The major assignment of the president-elect when he is eventually inaugurated is to restore confidence to the industry. He noted that the president-elect is familiar with the petroleum industry, adding that he is a straight forward person that has respect for democratic principles. “As military head of state, he dealt with the Federal Executive Council with the tenets of democracy.
Buhari will build new refineries to make petroleum products available for the masses. No responsible government will allow the masses to suffer. “He will strengthen the refineries within a year. It is possible as we won’t spend any amount in setting up a green field refinery. We already have a blueprint as we shall use what we have to get what we want,” he added.
He further stated that on many occasions, the president – elect had disclosed that the subsidy initiative is a fraud which has distorted the progress expected in the sector.” I am waiting to hear what Professor Tam David-West will say concerning the situation at hand. It’s easy to say fantastic things when you’re an outsider, but when you discover what the occupant of the position has been grappling with, you will change your opinion. Leadership is completely different from rhetorics!
These are the leadership lessons we must learn from this issue
1. Leadership Is Not A Child’s Play. It’s easy to criticize on the sidelines but very difficult to perform when you’re giving a chance to enter into the pitch. Can’t you see that some sports journalist that criticize spots stars daily have potbelly? Some of them cannot last for ten minutes in a football match, yet they can play and score goals with their tongues.
2. Criticize Constructively. There is a difference between an assault and criticism. Do you know that some social media agents of this government called a sitting president a pig and a goat? This same group of people are now preaching to us to accept the removal of the same fuel subsidy they opposed in 2012 because they have discovered that there is a world of difference between issuing press statements as an opposition and governance.
3. Don’t Criticise A Leader Until You Get The Whole Details. If the current political leaders had taken time to ascertain the situation of things, they would have criticised constructively. But to stand on the sideline and say emphatically that there is nothing like fuel subsidy was a big low for those who should speak like statesmen.
4. Propaganda And Lies Have Expiry Date. This present government have tried every lie in the book, but it couldn’t work. Their major problem now is how to keep up with the old lies. For example, on February 11 2016, they said that they were saving over N647 million monthly from fuel subsidy. They were indirectly saying that there is nothing like fuel subsidy. Three months later, they removed what was not existing.
If I keep on sharing policy inconsistencies, propaganda and lies this government has baptized us with in less than one year, I will do several parts of this article. Leaders must understand that you cannot lead with lies. Whatever you build on lies and deceit can never stand. Leaders must learn to be honest with their subordinates.
My final take on this fuel subsidy brouhaha is like a question. How can we remove fuel subsidy or deregulate the down stream sector and fix price for oil marketers? You cannot deregulate and regulate. You cannot say, oil marketers go ahead and import petrol and sell, and fix price for them at the same time. Allow them to compete!
Full deregulation was what the government did when the monopoly of Nitel was completely thrown into the dustbin. Nigerian communications Commission (NCC) did not fix prices for the telecommunication companies. If they did that, we will still be buying sim cards at N10,000 today. But the government allowed market forces to fix itself, and today, sim card is free. We are watching what those who occupied Nigeria in 2012 will do this time around.
I also want to say that I fully support the anti-corruption war that is going on as long as everyone who stole our common wealth, whether in the APC, PDP, Labour Party or APGA are arrested and tried in the court of competent jurisdiction, not on the media. You cannot reward people who have allegation of corruption hanging on their necks with political positions and win the war against corruption. The fight must be holistic. Wisdom is profitable to direct!
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