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Buhari Promised Change But Nigerians Want Magic – Femi Adesina (Read Full Interview)

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Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, was guest on Radio Continental programme on Friday last week (March 4, 2016).
Below are excerpts from the interview:-
Nigerians are not happy about some things that we seem not to have gotten right. One of it is the issue of power supply. Service has deteriorated, yet people are made to cough out large sums of money monthly as tariffs.?
On the issue of power, it seems Nigerians are their own problems. You can recall about four weeks ago, the power ministry came out to say that the megawatts we had was 5070, which is an all-time high in 16 years. A few days after, some people blew installations in Bayelsa, we lost about 1600 megawatts immediately. After that, installation was blown in Delta and we lost another 1,000 megawatts.
What would the government do in that kind of circumstance? If the people who should be provided power are the ones sabotaging installations, they can’t turn round to say government is not providing power. Nigerians need to determine what they want. If South Africa has about 50,000 megawatts, it is because their own people are not sabotaging their installations, they are not going to blow up the lines. If Nigerians continue to blow up and sabotage, then they can’t come around to say that there is no power.
Are you saying that government is helpless in terms of protecting this vital infrastructure, with the security agencies we have?
Government is not helpless, and government should never be helpless. A government that is worth its’ salt should never be helpless, but there are so many things that the government can deploy attention to, and when the attention is focused on securing installation instead of what we can call other weightier matters of the law. It is just a waste of time. We are wasting our time as a country, because other countries don’t have that distraction, they don’t have to deploy troops to monitor installations, because nobody would sabotage installations since he knows the thing is for his own good. I think, in this country we need to get to a point where we should realize that when we do certain things, we are hurting ourselves and not the government.
What is the panacea to end recurring fuel queues, especially with the issue of building new refineries?
Let me try to put in perspective the fuel supply situation in the country. What caused the latest round of queues is that there is a breach in supply, which came from two ends. One, from the importation end and two, from the distribution end in the country. We have NNPC bringing in 70 per cent of fuel used in the country and the other 30 per cent is supposed to be provided by independent marketers. The independent marketers are not really doing much because of the differential in dollar rate currently. Before they can import, they expect government to do something in terms of dollar differential; but government is limited because we are not earning much dollar.
The only way Nigerian government gets dollar is through sale of crude oil, and we know that price has gone continuously down, that is what caused the breach in supply, because everything is imported. We are not refining much most times; and added to that is the fact that Europe is in winter. During winter, you cannot predict importation as in other seasons of the year, because there are some parts of the world where the seas are virtually frozen and ships can’t sail. A ship that you could predict would arrive after 30 days during summer, would arrive at 40-45 days because of the vagaries of the weather. This is another thing that affected importation into the country.
There is this third issue, which is very important because it links to what we have said earlier. All these ships that bring in fuel are insured internationally, and international insurers are refusing to insure ships going to Port-Harcourt and Warri because of the aggressiveness in the area. They follow all these things, all these pipelines that are vandalised and all of that, they follow. Therefore, those ships land in Lagos, and then you transport fuel by road to those areas. All these are complexities about our country that need to be looked at. I have said that Nigerians themselves must decide to address these complexities.
What is your answer on the issue of stipend of N5, 000 to the vulnerables or graduates because there seems to be contradiction. Is government paying because it is included in the budget?
There are two things we need to isolate. There is this notion that government was meant to pay N5,000 for unemployed graduates. That was the popular notion and that was what the President corrected, that instead of paying N5,000 to unemployed graduates, he would rather provide infrastructure, he would rather give them enabling environment to be useful than giving out dole to them. But there is one that is already captured in the budget, it is called the conditional cash transfer, which is going to be given to the poorest of the poor.
Nigerians are complaining about many things. Is the government aware?
I think Nigerians have always complained, and we should learn to stop complaining and believe more. If you have elected a government because you believe it can bring change;(because these complains started from the first month), and you have not allowed them to isolate what the problems are, and articulate what the solutions would be, and you begin to have all these complaints, I think it is not natural. What government needs at a time like this, is cooperation and support.
The President said this at an interview last week. He said things deteriorated over 16 years that PDP was in power, this is the ninth month of this government, and you want everything to have changed. It is not real. There must be realistic expectation, and realistic expectation will demand that people are patient, supportive, and encourage the government. This is a government that is working for the people. Somebody said two days ago that this is a government that is “pro-poor”, which is true. Then, all these complaints would not do anybody any good. Rather than complaining, let us cooperate, support and encourage.
The promised change would come. Don’t forget that our President said it would take a minimum of 18 months to revive the economy. Nigerians don’t listen to something like that, they want magic immediately. It doesn’t happen that way. This change will come, but it would follow a process, and it would be enduring.




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