Buhari should Phase-Out, Not Remove Petroleum Subsidy

Democratic governments are likely to face two interrelated problems in implementing difficult economic reforms. First, is the unpopularity of these measures among citizens who are likely to shoulder the most burden. Second, is the difficulty in employing a practical approach to implementation. Reforming Nigeria’s money-guzzling fuel subsidy regime, now an urgent matter in the context of dwindling government revenues since 2014, is both unpopular and the practicalities of its reformation are yet to be fleshed out.

Fuel subsidies are considered inefficient in standard economistic thinking, as a…Read More »

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Fuelling Poverty: a Film on the (Mis)Management of Nigeria’s Oil Wealth

I met Ishaya Bako during my last trip to Nigeria, on 13th January 2013 to be precise, at a lunch appointment with a friend in Wuse, Abuja. When I got to the Salamander Café by late afternoon, my friend was already there with Ishaya and three other people eating and chatting. I joined them, ordered some food and we proceeded to chat about life in general, our career paths and of course, Nigeria.

Two other friends subsequently joined us and the conversation got really chatty as all seven of us i.e. the filmmaker (Ishaya Bako), the journalist (my friend), the graduate researcher (myself), the author, the two lawyers and two others, disagreed on some points, agreed on many others but overall, we were all clearly concerned about Nigeria’s progress.

It was towards the end of our lunch discussion that the journalist mentioned the documentary “Fuelling Poverty”, credited it to Ishaya Bako and urged me to watch it on Youtube. The filmmaker, true to his African values, was quite bashful as he smiled modestly, lowered his voice and acknowledged he made the film. It all sounded really interesting so I promised to watch the short film afterwards.

After I got back to the UK the next day, I tried several times to watch the documentary over the next few weeks, but for one reason or the other, each time I opened the Youtube page, I got distracted and kept procrastinating.

So, I woke up this morning to find Twitter all a’buzz with the story of how an agency of the Nigerian government, the National Film and Video Censors Board, NFVCB, which vets, classifies, and approves films and videos meant for distribution and exhibition in Nigeria had banned Fuelling Poverty. Parts of the story, as reported by Premium Times goes thus:

“…in an April 8 letter to Mr. Bako, exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES Friday, the agency (NFVCB) prohibited the distribution and exhibition of the documentary in Nigeria, saying its contents “are highly provocative and likely to incite or encourage public disorder and undermine national security.”

The letter, signed by the NFVCB’s Head of Legal Services, Effiong Inwang, warned the filmmaker against violating the order, saying “all relevant national security agencies are on the alert. A copy of this letter has been sent to the Director General, Department of State Services and the Inspector General of Police for their information.””

Of course, the buzz around Fuelling Poverty fueled my own curiosity and I didn’t hesitate further in finally watching the documentary on Youtube. I felt two things simultaneously. First, I was and am incredibly impressed by the technical quality of the film itself and how the feelings of Nigerians towards the fuel subsidy scam, oil wealth mismanagement, corruption and governance in general (the things that propelled Occupy Nigeria) are relayed in a simple, clear and lucid  manner. It’s even more gratifying to see such a gritty film about Nigeria made by a Nigerian (albeit in partnership with the Open Society for West Africa, OSIWA) living in Nigeria. It is a clear indication that we should and are beginning to own and tell our own stories.

Secondly, I am yet to identify what is so provocative about the documentary that put the Nigerian government on its toes. A good chunk of the film is based on content analysis of media reports available at the click of a button on the internet; footage from widely publicised proceedings of the Nigerian Parliament, the National Assembly, and from interviews with policy makers all freely available on the Internet. There is no leaked or stolen classified information, no interviews with people pleading anonymity, nothing suspicious or speculative… all the information and general themes are widely discussed online and on the streets. What is so inflammatory about this film, it is not clear. Perhaps its the use of Fela’s songs as soundtracks that pissed off the powers that be. I heard on the grapevine (unconfirmed) that the film maker has gone underground.

Ironically, the move by the government to ban the documentary from TV stations in Nigeria, simply fueled people’s interest in it – those who had never heard of it prior to this incident and others, like myself, who only just got round to watching it. Now the film has gone viral! Nigerians are sharing the link to the Youtube video via Blackberry Messenger, Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools. Soon, counterfeit DVD copies will be sold freely at traffic jams in Nigerian cities. Thanks to the internet, the days of media censorship are long buried in the past. Besides, I am technically not in Nigeria…so… here is the video below, enjoy!

Nigeria’s Missing Billions and Trillions

Anti-corruption tzar and head of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu

It used to be tens of millions of naira and occasionally, hundreds of millions of naira and when a corruption incident amounting to a billion naira was mentioned, we were stunned, disgusted and spoke about it intensely for weeks. Now misappropriation of public funds in Nigeria is recorded in billions and trillions of naira such that cases involving mere millions no longer elicit media scrutiny or a shocked reaction from the public. The increase in the scale of corruption has been followed closely by an increase in our disillusionment as we are becoming numbed to the mind-boggling figures.

The mass protests that accompanied the removal of fuel subsidy in January this year led to the inauguration of probe panels such as the Farouk Lawan-led House of Representatives Committee examining the fuel subsidy regime, the Nuhu Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force (PRSTF) on the management of the oil sector, and to a lesser extent hastened deliberations on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

These panels have all unearthed fraud of epic proportions in the oil sector: N1.3trn ($6.8bn) lost to fuel subsidy fraud, N1trn ($6bn) per annum lost to oil theft (bunkering), opaque oil deals short-changing Nigeria of billions of dollars by marketers and International Oil Companies (IOCs) through gas price-fixing deals and non-payment of royalties and signature bonuses, and other such cases where billions of dollars are lost to various vested interests. This is in addition to monies stolen in Ministries Departments and Agencies most recently, the physical theft of N2.1bn ($14m) in newly printed notes from the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Corporation (NSPMC). The list is endless.

An aerial view of an illegal refinery in Ogoni land, in the oil-producing Niger-Delta. Source: Msnbcmedia.com

An editorial of The Punch newspaper estimates that over N5trn ($30bn) has been misappropriated since 2010. The global audit firm KPMG rates Nigeria as having the “highest value of fraud reported” in Africa, at N225bn ($1.5bn). Nigeria is rated as the 35th most corrupt country, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The figures and the reports are revealing as they are damning.

The initial shock at the scale of corruption is gradually giving way to a numbness and indifference. Many like me perhaps, have given up on using calculators to convert the billions of dollars to whatever currency equivalents just to grasp the full scale of funds lost. We’re gradually drifting to a comfortable zone of intentional ignorance convincing ourselves that the $6bn dollars lost to subsidy fraud or the hundreds of millions of dollars lost daily to oil bunkering are mere numbers. The reality though, gnaws relentlessly in one’s subconscious knowing that the judicious utilization of these monies could significantly improve the ailing education sector, health sector, transport infrastructure and the fortunes of the whole country, yet they are diverted by a few.

As the quality of our public services and infrastructure continues to deteriorate, we have become numbed by the scale of corruption and decay and instead find it easier to seek lesser alternatives. This translates to outsourcing education to private schools at home and education institutions abroad; outsourcing healthcare to private hospitals whose exorbitant charges barely merit the quality of services they provide, and… well, private jets litter Nigerian airports for those who can afford to escape the pot-hole ridden roads or the domestic airlines ably described as “flying coffins”.

The inescapable reality though, is we’ll eventually have to wake up from our reverie and realize that playing the ostrich is not sustainable as we postpone the inevitable. The mismanagement of public funds has direct bearing on our collapsing infrastructure, insecurity, deplorable standard of education, unemployment and a host of other ills which are all interconnected – none is isolated from the other. If funds in every sector are constantly frittered away, then the efficiency of public services and ability of regulatory agencies to regulate the private sector will be affected, resulting in collapsing infrastructure and poor services with barely any maintenance or sustenance.

The crash site of the Dana Air mishap in June 2012, Lagos. Source: ChannelsTV.com

Feigning indifference means we will individually continue to seek opportunities (legally, extra-legally or illegally) to fund our ability to bypass or “persevere” through the infrastructural decay in order to afford the prohibitive fees and fares in private schools, private hospitals and air travel, and to tolerate the barely mediocre and mostly poor services provided. Hence, the vicious cycle of corruption persists. Ignoring these issues for convenient alternatives doesn’t confer immunity on anyone from the problems therein either.

This reality of our collective vulnerability is constantly drummed into our psyches with the frequency of deadly air crashes notably the Dana Air crash, the air mishap which left Governor Suntai of Taraba mentally incapacitated and the most recent fatal crash which claimed the lives of Kaduna state governor, Patrick Yakowa, General Andrew Azazi, their aides and crew members. Clearly, air travel is no longer much safer than travelling on the treacherous Nigerian roads in dire need of repair.

At some point we will have to ensure our cynicism not only translates to indifference but to collective action towards these issues that affect our daily existence by demanding for accountability and judicious management of public funds. Could a fraction of the national energy spent for the better part of the last two months vigorously debating Chinua Achebe’s polarising personal memoirs on the 1960s Biafran war be channelled towards some of these problems? A starting point could be DEMANDING for some concrete action from the government based on recommendations of the Ribadu report (PDF).

Lest we forget the power of collective action, the fuel subsidy protests aka Occupy Nigeria yielded some results – it led to the probe panels which have unearthed and confirmed the scale and depth of corruption in Nigeria’s golden goose, the oil sector. It might be up to Nigerians again to ensure tangible action is taken on these reports and they are not left to gather dust as usual. How about starting with the Ribadu report? Surely it shouldn’t be problematic for the government to implement a report it commissioned…

A Few Weeks’ Silence

Sometimes I wonder if the ancient Chinese prayer that goes thus: “may you live in interesting times” was finally answered in the 21st century with all that is happening around the world at a dizzying pace. Perhaps, it is just that information technology and new media tools have given us access to tons of information we otherwise wouldn’t have had, thereby giving an illusion of a quickening of the pace of events. This is because since my last post on this blog back in the first week of June – when Nigerians were still reeling from the aftermath of the Dana plane crash tragedy and the bomb attacks in Bauchi state – it feels as though a lot has happened within that period.

I haven’t written in a number of weeks mainly because I have been extremely preoccupied, but these days, aren’t we all? In my case, I recently changed jobs, moved houses about 3 times: from a city centre neighbourhood, to a predominantly minorities-dominated neighbourhood, then to a predominantly white neighbourhood; I went through a gruelling and nerve-wracking visa application process; relocated to another country, took up a new job; and I am now settling in and facing another bout of culture shock all over again – never mind that I moved from one part of Europe to another (more on this soon) –   all within a span of 6 weeks. The last one week has been particularly eventful and exhausting but all’s well that ends well…

Despite all these, I have tried to keep up with events happening around the world, particularly in Nigeria. I followed with utter disbelief and total revulsion, the sordid $3 million bribery scandal between billionaire oil tycoon Femi Otedola and chairman of the House of Representatives committee investigating fuel subsidy fraud, Honourable Farouk Lawal and how this scandal unfolded like a mite-infested rug, spewing its insect-ridden contents. Like many, I was initially outraged at the perceived clandestine attempts to tarnish Lawan’s integrity  as an incorruptible member of the Nigerian lower Parliament – the House of Representatives – but shortly after, mellowed down when confronted with the sobering reality that an exchange of some sort did take place between the two. Like many others, I was heartbroken and felt let down by one of the upright few we thought were the incorruptible ones that we could look up to; I felt absolutely disappointed that Lawan did not realize the enormity of the burden of the fuel subsidy probe that hung on his shoulders; I was heartbroken that one of the most important reports unearthing massive corruption and fraud, quite possibly the largest in Nigeria’s history, would most likely be flushed down the toilet because of Lawan’s folly, recklessness, greed or all of the above.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel cheers as Germany scores a goal against Greece. Photo courtesy: AFP

Though not a football or any sort of sports fan, I followed with keen interest the Germany vs. Greece match, popularly dubbed Battle of the Bailout match in the Euro 2012 football league and observed with absolute fascination how in the prelude to, and in the aftermath of the match, the political dynamics of Germany’s bailout of the Greek economy spilled over to the match with all sorts of innuendos reflecting on the relationship between the two countries. I have also been following the events in Egypt –  I’ve always held a deep fascination for that country, and the fact that my masters dissertation was partly on the Egyptian revolution made me more interested in events there. It was with keen interest that I followed the recent elections in Egypt, the continued occupation of Tahrir square by Egyptians who felt they were being taken for a ride by the SCAF, the military caretaker regime, Hosni Mubarak’s deteriorating health – one wonders why these dictators after ruling ruthlessly with an iron grip suddenly become frail after being ousted from power – and most recently, the victory of Mohammed Moursi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate as President-elect in a free and fair democratic contest. Egyptians have fought hard for, with sweat and blood, and rightfully earned their democracy.

Photo from Celeberations in Tahrir square after Mohammed Moursi was declared President-elect

Finally, with great sadness and trepidation, I learnt about the carnage and mayhem that took place last weekend in Nigeria – namely the simultaneous attacks on churches in Zaria and Kaduna, the reprisals and counter reprisals and the bomb attacks and gun fights in Damaturu, Yobe state – with casualty figures running well into the hundreds. It has been a bloody and tense week as my family and friends in Zaria and Kaduna have been grounded at home, under a curfew for the better part of last week. However, normalcy is being restored, albeit at a frighteningly snail pace.

Now that I am a bit more settled here, I would have more time to blog and write. I would also like to use this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for the concern expressed by all those who sent me emails, Facebook messages and twitter messages asking if I was okay. Your messages are really appreciated.

The Pains and Gains of #OccupyNigeria

Occupy Nigeria Logo designed by Zakari Ahmadu

Occupy Nigeria was a test-run to a revolution

–          Kayode Ogundamisi. Citizen journalist

So it was that in the wee hours of Monday 16th January 2012, the series of strikes and mass protests called Occupy Nigeria for the most part came to a grinding and anticlimactic end. Just when the mass protests were reaching an unprecedented crescendo, the Labour Unions (NLC/TUC), which formed only a sub-set of the #OccupyNigeria movement entered into an agreement behind closed doors with government… and the rest as they say is history. While this was incredibly disappointing to to those who had high hopes for its potential as it signalled a growing democratic deficit, others are of the opinion that some gains have been made in terms of political participation and mobilization for our nascent democracy.

An obvious gain is the rise of youth movements both online and offline, their influence and their strength. #OccupyNigeria movement, a loose coalition of various individuals and civil society groups was a spontaneous movement that began on the 1st of January 2012 in response to the arbitrary fuel price increase by the executive arm of the Nigerian government. For the most part #OccupyNigeria started online, with Facebook, Twitter and other social media used as outlets for people to express their outrage and as platforms for organizing and mobilizing people for street protests. It was individuals and coalition of youth groups such as the Enough is Enough (EIE) from all over Nigeria: from Lagos to Abuja, Kano to Kwara, Kaduna to Ibadan and in the Diaspora who discussed, mobilized, organized protests, shared information with one another mostly online and offline as well. This served as an opportunity for youths (who constitute over 70% of the population) who had hitherto been alienated and marginalized from political discourse, discussion and participation in the Nigerian public sphere to register their relevance and make their voices heard.

Furthermore, the spontaneity of the Occupy Movement as an embodiment of collective outrage felt by Nigerians meant it was representative of the feelings of ordinary Nigerian youths at home and in the diaspora. The movement cut across the country’s mainstream divisions and fault lines: Muslims and Christians; Northerners and Southerners; Hausa, Yorubas and Igbos; Nigerians at home and abroad; Men and women; students, graduates and workers etc. By collectively expressing our outrage, Nigerian youths realized that the labels we have been tagged with are superficial as we all have the same needs; we are all demanding better governance and transparency from our leaders and are all troubled by the rising insecurity in the country. By far the most symbolic and powerful personification of this unified collective outrage lies in the unbelievable images of Christians protecting Muslim faithful whilst they prayed in the cities of Kano and Kaduna, the covenant of peace entered by Muslim and Christian faithful and the solidarity visit to churches in Kano by Muslim faithful. These served to shatter the long-held myth of the irreconcilable differences amongst Nigerians. It also served to rekindle a sense of nationalism, patriotism and belief in the viability of Nigeria amongst many who were fast losing hope in the Nigerian project.

This is about where the gains end.

As much as ordinary Nigerians were for the first time able to make their voices heard, those unified voices were apparently not loud enough as the government did not yield to any of the movement’s immediate demands (and that of the lower chamber of the Legislature, the House of Representatives) of reverting fuel price back to N65 per litre and drastically cutting government’s bloated recurrent expenditure. The labour unions who joined the mass protests spearheaded by the OccupyNigeria movement after it had gone on for a week are now regarded with suspicion and resentment for what many perceive to be their hijacking of the movement and acting arbitrarily, negotiating with and reaching an agreement with government to peg fuel price at N97 without consultation with the rest of the Occupy movement. While government has since then, at least the the House of Representatives has commenced committee hearings and unearthed a ton of fraud and opaqueness in the oil sector and the operations of agencies like the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the state-owned oil coy Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the basic demands of the movement were not met and the deal brokered was not in tandem with the basic demands of #OccupyNigeria.

Directly related to the above is that the perceived lack of disregard for the voice of the ordinary Nigerian by those in government. This has fed a growing lack of trust, disillusionment and cynicism  on the activities of government officials who are widely regarded to be alienated from the public. The decision to “remove” fuel subsidy and increase petrol pump price was taken unilaterally by the executive while consultations with the public and civil society were supposed to be ongoing; the unified front presented by government officials in vehemently defending the policy and the non-resignation or breaking of ranks by even one government official adds fuel to this distrust and disillusionment by Nigerians. The strikes may have been called off, the movement might have lost its vigour but the distrust in government has only persisted and perhaps even worsened. A recent gallup poll conducted revealed that 94% of Nigerians do not trust the government.

Lastly the brutal repression of peaceful protesters by security forces at the behest of government portends the greatest danger to our democracy. Over 20 protesters were reported to have been shot and killed by police in Lagos, Kano, Ilorin and other cities while many more sustained injuries. A very disturbing aspect of it all is the deployment of the army to Lagos and to a lesser extent in Kaduna allegedly to quell protests. There were reports of use of tear gas  and other acts of repression on those who had continued with the protesters beyond 9th January when strikes were called off by Labour Unions.This was perceived by many civil society groups and activists as a breach of fundamental rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Thus, despite the very modest gains of the OccupyNigeria movement, the underlying issues and contradictions that brought about the movement in the first place have not been addressed. Fuel prices are still high, soaring inflation still persists, and the disconnect between government and ordinary Nigerians has only increased. In addition, there is seething resentment amongst Nigerians for government officials over the way the movement was hijacked, stifled, suffocated and rendered irrelevant by labour unions and the government. There is obviously a need to address these issues; bridges of political communication need to be rapidly built in order to restore trust and confidence in the government. Otherwise, this seeming democratic deficit has the risk of boiling over one day, perhaps in the not too distant future.

The Unanswered Questions on Fuel Subsidy Removal

Source: Vanguard Nigeria

Ever since the Nigerian government officially announced a few months ago its plans of removing the subsidy on petroleum or premium motor spirit (PMS) by January 2012 , the debate for or against this policy has raged on and is only increasing in intensity by the day. Those for the policy, mostly from the camp of the Executive arm of government argue that fuel subsidy hardly benefits majority of Nigerians, that it only serves to benefit an exclusive class or “cabal” of petroleum importers; and that in the face of dwindling revenues in this tumultuous global economic climate, the close to N1.3 trillion spent annually on subsidizing fuel is unsustainable when it could be channelled towards development projects and provision of infrastructure. Those against the policy argue that removal of subsidy, which is one of the only way most Nigerians get their “share” of massive oil revenues, will lead to an over 100% increase in the price of fuel with a rippling effect on the entire economy and thereby bring untold hardship on the common man.

In all this intense debate, certain questions have remained unanswered  particularly from the camp of the government, not just on whether subsidy should be removed or not, but on what exactly this policy entails and its consequences,. The government has been exceedingly secretive, vague and ambiguous over its exact plan of action to this end that is how such funds/proceeds would be utilized in realizing all the lofty promises of infrastructure provision and investment in capital projects, how the government would address the inevitable inflationary pressures that would occur and what palliative measures would be put in place to minimize and cushion the harsh effects of these inflationary pressures on the  populace and on the economy.

Even the most nonchalant and blasé observer of events in Nigeria would agree that the government has done a very poor job in political communication and engaging stakeholders and common Nigerians on this subsidy issue. Nigerians became acquainted with government’s plans to remove fuel subsidy from rumours a few weeks after the inauguration of President Goodluck Jonathan, which the government denied several times, before the bombshell was dropped in the National Assembly. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the government to date has neither made any concerted effort to properly engage Civil Society, academics and the general public nor does it have a coherent policy document or blue print with a clear break down of the amount of PMS consumed daily/monthly/annually; the quantity of PMS refined and produced domestically vis-a-vis the amount imported; the exact amount of subsidy that covers what percentage of PMS; the exact manner in which the “cabal” is fraudulently benefiting from fuel subsidy at the expense of Nigerians; measures to be taken to combat this fraud and bring these perpetrators to book; a projected timeline of how subsidy would be removed and how the funds would be utilized; the short, long-term and medium-term effects it would have on the economy; a timeline of rehabilitation of existing refineries and how many new ones would be built over what period of time and how the supply structure of fuel would be overhauled. In the absence of this policy statement, most of what many informed people have learnt about the fraud and opaqueness revolving around petroleum subsidy has emanated not from the government, but from the efforts of academics and journalists such as Farooq Kperogi, young activists such as Kunle Durojaiye,  former head of state General Muhammadu Buhari,  a Former Federal Director of Budget Chief Omowale Kuye(ofr), all of whom have shed light on the issue.

While the government has repeatedly stated that subsidy only benefits a few middle class to upper class Nigerians at the expense of common Nigerians, it remains very sketchy how government intends to utilize these funds to the benefit of common Nigerians. We have learnt that the proceeds from the removal of this subsidy would be used in building infrastructure, schools, hospitals, roads and refineries. The Vice President Namadi Sambo on Friday 13th December while engaging some members of Civil Society said a subsidy savings management programme would be unveiled with which Nigerians can monitor the judicious management of these funds. As this was only announced after the subsidy-removal debate had raged on for months with barely a month to the implementation of the policy proper, one could rightly assume that this came as an afterthought to the government in a ploy to assuage angry Nigerians as the plan is bereft of detailed explanation. Given the notorious inefficiency, leakages, corruption, waste, mismanagement and excessive bureaucracy that characterize the management of public funds, what assurances do Nigerians have that the management of subsidy proceeds would be any different from the norm?

Most importantly, it remains unclear what palliative measures would be put in place to cushion the inflationary pressures on Nigerians, that would inevitably abound from this policy. As the Minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala announced, the price of PMS per litre would go up from the current official rate of N65 to more than N120 and upto N150 ($1). In the absence of a coherent, logical and clear-cut policy document, government has not made projections on how long this price increase would last before market forces kick-in and bring down the price, what projected impacts the increase would have on the lives of Nigerians and on the economy, what precise inflationary pressures would be the consequence and whether this inflation would be short-term, medium-term or long-term and how government will ensure that such inflation would not have a deleterious on Nigerians and on the economy. Though the Honourable Minister said “palliative measures” would include the launch of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE) , maternal and child services, youth employment programmes, urban mass transit, “infrastructure” projects etc, these proposed programmes remain vague and disjointed because they would simply be a duplication of functions of already existing ministries and parastatals. It is difficult to envision how “maternal and child services” would for instance curb inflation.

Given that the entire Nigerian economy is an oil-based enclave economy in which every sector literally depends on petroleum while the  perennial problem of power supply has ensured that industries, banks, schools, hospitals, factories and households, are all powered by generating sets fuelled by diesel or petroleum, it doesn’t require a super macro-economist to extrapolate and deduce that an increase in petroleum prices by 100% would lead to a corresponding increase in all goods and services by same percentage: foodstuff and consumer goods, school, hospital and banking services, transportation fares and everything else. This inflation is inevitable, yet the government has kept mute over how exactly it will cushion these anticipated impacts. Are there going to be special social benefits to be handed out to Nigerians? If so what form would it take and how would it be disbursed?

This unnecessary tension in the polity and controversy surrounding the planned subsidy removal could have been largely avoided if only the government had been more adept and tactful in its political communication with stakeholders and with Nigerians. That there is monumental fraud and inconsistency surrounding fuel subsidy is undisputed, anyone who has keenly followed the debate in the past few weeks would attest to that. However the manner the government has approached the issue with secrecy and lack of consultation at the onset, only now engaging some members of civil society not to engage them critically, but just to win them over even so without a clear policy statement is fuelling the fire of this controversy and making the real motives of government suspect. It remains to be seen how things will pan out in the next few weeks and how long government will continue with this futile and maladroit approach in trying to win over Nigerians to buy this highly unpopular, ill-thought out and controversial policy decision.