Comments on: More thoughts on Occupy Nigeria Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003 Thu, 31 May 2018 07:56:57 +0000 hourly 1 By: New media and the idea of a global public sphere – Africa is a Country Fri, 22 Feb 2013 10:56:31 +0000 […] Media coverage of Nigeria during #OccupyNigeria mostly focused on alleged violence associated with protesters or linked the protests to the violence of Boko Haram, which stepped up its attacks during the strike. Certain “expert” voices in the West supported the government of Jonathan, especially his finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. They would quickly face the backlash of Nigerian protesters. Cases in point: Jeffrey Sachs and Ethan Zuckerman. The latter to his credit, backtracked from his initial thoughts. […]

By: New Media in Africa and the Global Public Sphere | African Futures Thu, 21 Feb 2013 15:50:49 +0000 […] Media coverage of Nigeria during #OccupyNigeria mostly focused on alleged violence associated with protesters or linked the protests to the violence of Boko Haram, which stepped up its attacks during the strike. Certain “expert” voices in the West supported the government of Jonathan, especially his finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. They would quickly face the backlash of Nigerian protesters. Cases in point: Jeffrey Sachs and Ethan Zuckerman. The latter to his credit, backtracked from his initial thoughts. […]

By: David Thu, 12 Jan 2012 15:36:37 +0000 It is clear that the subsidy removal is an attempt to come up with an ECONOMIC SOLUTION to the SOCIAL PROBLEMS of corruption, collusion of political elite with the private sector and poor levels of accountability in governance – in the oil sector.

There is one troubling thing though… a government unwilling or scared to take on the ‘cabal’ that made an additional Trillion Naira from subsidies in 2011 alone (an election year). Such a move may be political suicide for the President, especially now that he cannot count on the support of the Nigerian people due to this unpopular policy.

Personally, I am distraught that the occupy movement does not take a more long term view on both the problems that brought Nigeria to this point… and the lasting solutions to this anomaly. What is worse is the false dichotomy that the movement is establishing, making it a playground for ALL anti-government elements.

It might not be the best way to go about it, or the right time, but given the facts… it is the most sensible in the medium to long term!

By: Philip Wed, 11 Jan 2012 19:56:17 +0000 Oh and as an addendum. Nothing in the Govts plans on how to spend the money is new. It is the same empty promises that have been bandied about for over a decade. Further more no costs are given just the promises and no idea of the infrasctructure in place for fulfilling these. Diesel and AGO had been deregulated some 4 years ago with similar promises of reinvestment in infrastructure and power. We have yet to see these benefits and as another poster said we only saw war-chests of cash when elections came round.
This is a fundamental crisis of trust that we a people who have been suckered for far too long have simply said enough. If the Govt had been sincere, it could have raised a 2 year plan during which the subsidy would have gone in stages bookmarked with delivery of key palliatives and alternative measures…
For example what was wrong with the following roadmap

30% reduction in the cost of governments (layoff if necessary)
Immediate injection of saved funds into a priority program to rehabilitate refineries
Provide a guarantee to purchase of locally refined products at commercial prices (would still be cheaper than buying imported products) as a spur to private investment while also providing matching government funds
Closer monitoring of the subsidy regime and prosecution of previous offenders to check waste

Stage 2 – provision of findings on govt savings and then 10% increase in fuel prices
New power plants brought onstream… the increase in power if delivered thus reduces local demand of petrol used for power generation thus even more savings on the subsidy regime

Stage 3 – further cuts to government spending and waste and reduction of subsidies through fuel price hike to perhaps about 75% of price delivered (by a combination of refurbished local refineries and importation)

Stage 4 – as private refineries come onstream a complete removal of the subsidy regime.

I bet you Sir that there would have been few objections to such a plan and this regime would have been a shoo-in at the next polls!

By: Philip Wed, 11 Jan 2012 19:39:49 +0000 Hi Zuckerman! I read your initial piece and I shared some of the concerns of the commentators with its characterization although i won’t go into details here as that has been hashed out in your commentary page. I also share your sense of annoyance at some of the vitriol that was directed your way as ultimately you are trying to understand and share this issue with an American public with, I believe, a positive intent. However having seen that you have taken onboard some of the opposition’s (to which i belong) views, you still in your current piece mischaracterize the protests. I have been on the street and I have been amazed in many ways that the common man (I daresay i can hardly count myself as one being both educated, at least middle class and an employer) understood the issues to be not one of simply price reversals but more about the role of governance and corruption. What you also miss in your analysis are the alternatives the government had and its behaviour in its so-called consultative process with civil society around this very issue. This Govt has submitted a budget for 2012 (i.e. its next budget) which still says it will spend 74% of that budget on itself with 90% (the Finance ministers figures not mine) going to paying salaries. This in real terms equates to 1.6 Trillion Naira for about 100,000 employees with many of these employees actually being ghost workers (again the Ministers comments not mine). Yet they plan to save 500 billion from removing subsidies. So one alternative was simply to slash the waste/corruption in government. A second option, the subsidy bill had grown virtually overnight from 250 billion to 1.3 Trillion. When asked to explain, the Finance minister and CBN governor said oil price rises $95 to about $110, more cars (no figures given but one cannot estimate more than 15% more if even that many given the fact that banks were ill disposed to giving out loans of any sort and asset loans are the least in their bouquets) and exchange rate declines (about 8%). So essentially about 40% of a 500% jump. The rest left unsaid was corruption. The so called ‘Cabal’. Has anyone being arrested or even probed… No! So we can say that most of the savings projected from this deregulation is supposed to accrue from not having to pay subsidies for phantom services to a cabal the government is essentially sayint it is too scared, hobbled to tackle. Instead it picks option 3, knuckle down the common man and grind him into the dust. Why, simple, our government thinks that the common man won’t protest since he has no history of doing so! It is certainly an easier fight than options 1 or 2. But if you leave the corrupt cabal in place to administer the same oil infrastructure what then is the guarantee that corruption won’t simply show up in new places, say in the administration of the projected windfalls? This is the heart of the struggle! We are simply demanding that the government first shows the steps of good governance; then we may allow ourselves to be taking along for the ride. Please note for example that they did not cut their salaries by 25% as you mentioned previously, they cut their ‘basic’ salaries by 25%. In Nigeria, your basic salary may make up about 10% of your overall compensation package and with the way our politicians and leaders compensation is structured, it is less than that. The president for example has a multi-million Naira furniture allowance, a billion Naira feeding allowance and so on… in reality a 25% cut in basic reduces salaries and allowances be less than 2%. It is this sort of sophistry that has the average person who now has access to these facts thanks to social media and the passage (after 4 years of delays and reluctance on the part of the federal govt and legislature) of the Freedom of Information bill fulminating. We seek social justice as in the case of all the other Occupy movements though I for one could care less whether we belong or not. This is simply a fight whose time has come and you have rightly captured it as a moment when we can finally raise the standard against corruption. The government’s insincerity in passing a measure it claimed it was still consulting about and which no one had yet agreed to was simply the final straw.

By: Joe Black Tue, 10 Jan 2012 00:26:05 +0000 Ultimately, insiders in the government will tell you that the more money the government has the more room for corruption. A progressive policy on paper any where in the world is anything but, in Nigeria. The track record of the Federal Government in General and this government in particular, when it comes to executing projects is so abysmal that it will take an act of extreme faith to believe that they can transfer savings from subsidy removal to capital projects. A quick review of the current budget and intimate knowledge of the players would completely squash that idea. Managing an opaque, bloated and corruption ridden subsidy regime is bad. A very first step would have been to fix the problems in the subsidy regime it self and then tackle the rot in the oil industry and the waste in government. This will build credibility, which can be used to face the fuel subsidy, at which point we will not be talking about a doubling of fuel prices, but probably a marginal increase of at most 20%. The received wisdom, however, is that the administration is broke, after spending a kings ransom to secure first the nomination and then favorable election results and the only source of ready funds seems to repay political jobbers and build reserves for 2015 election seems to be to target Fuel Subsidies. If you had been around Nigeria during the PDP primaries and the elections, you would have seen government parastatals completely starved of funds even to pay for stationary, while PDP chieftains were parading huge wads of hard currency to secure their constituencies. Not everything in Nigeria is what it seems.. Progressive, my ass.

By: Occupy Nigeria – Africa is a Country Mon, 09 Jan 2012 22:39:26 +0000 […] a good takedown of Zuckerman’s positions here.) By Sunday, Zuckerman, stung by the criticism, backtracked on some of his views. A case of his own […]

By: [#ACE_] Tha Suspect – SUBSIDY [freestyle] « #.A.C.E.W.O.R.L.D ___ melo-drama [@DJaySEAN] Sun, 08 Jan 2012 20:50:05 +0000 […] More thoughts on Occupy Nigeria ( […]

By: Sunday Reading « zunguzungu Sun, 08 Jan 2012 16:40:10 +0000 […] Ethan Zuckerman asks Occupy Nigeria – a reactionary occupy movement?, A Response to Ethan Zuckerman from Sahelblog, and Zuckerman’s response. […]