On IMF’s Imperialist Balderdash Over Subsidies

By Kunle Wizeman Ajayi (Contributor)


“Subsidies are about resource allocation internally within Nigeria. So Nigerians, the people of Nigeria pay for these subsidies” – Abebe Selassie, Director of IMF African Department, speaking at the ongoing IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington DC.

Subsidies are Keynesian keys employed by the Capitalists in order to structuralize social welfare and security, in response to the decline in state capitalism and the rise of private profiteering and larger primitive accumulation by the rich few. This is why petrol price was selling for #87 under the Jonathan government after he retreated because of the January Uprising Against Fuel Subsidy Removal in 2012. Compare the current oil subsidy removal under Tinubu, and see how much Petrol is (#650-#700!) That means Subsidies pay the people more. IMF and World Bank lie through their nostrils and only capitalize on the Loans given to Nigerian governments overtime, and the fact that local politicians are also neo-liberals of their kind who enjoy the vicious massive transfer of public wealth into private pockets.

Selassie also spoke as if to toddlers that; “it’s people that are driving these large cars, with big houses are wanting to see subsidised fuel. They are the ones benefitting relative to the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria.” It is the masses of Nigeria that have been suffering as Taxis, tricycles, and buses have increased their fares to over 300%. Let Selassie know that last December, just six months after President Tinubu arrogantly and ignorantly said “subsidy is gone,” most Nigerians didn’t travel to the villages and even the Presidency had to lie openly that they would subsidized the transport fares.

As to who actually pays for subsidies. The reasonable question should be- who actually makes the wealth? It’s the working people! The rich does not make any wealth other than expropriating and looting them. Dangote Refinery is a product of trillions of Loans from the Central Bank. None of the richest Nigerians today ever made wealth outside state patronages. So, the IMF should be modest about it’s bad advices and imposition of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) since the Babangida regime till now. Naira started declining, consequently, since the mid-80s when IMF and World Bank became the officials guardians and thinkers of the Nigerian ruling class.

It is pertinent to note that policies of the IMF and World Bank are consciously and strategically misleading. They have predicted severally that Nigeria would become a better place once subsidies are removed and Naira is devalued. But practically, the reverse have been the case thus far.

Selassie concluded his statement by asking the Nigerian government “to remove the subsidies and use the resources to provide social protection for the most vulnerable households.” What Selassie means by “social protection for vulnerable households,” is what we all know as Palliatives today. It is utterly insane to keep repeating the same bad experiment that keep bringing bad results. From SURE-P; to N-Power; to the current “#30billion” palliatives per state, all of them have failed to ameliorate the pains caused by Subsidy Removals. Obasanjo did the removal, but Yar’adua immediately upturned it on getting to office. Jonathan had to reverse the Oil Subsidy Removal after January Uprising. Buhari also had to run back to subsidies in 2016. Now, Tinubu is back to subsidies after the experiments of Total Oil Subsidy Removal and Naira Floating failed and is causing serious hardships to most of millions of Nigerians. The threats of mass protests is one reason the Tinubu regime is quickly retracing it’s steps, emptying the foreign reserves to mop up the dollar and make Naira appreciate (even as such steps are still lagging behind getting back to status quo and also totally reversing back to old prices of goods and services on the streets.)

I refer to the poknosing of IMF and World Bank in the Nigerian political and economic running as “imperialist balderdash” for two reasons. First is that even in the United States where IMF and World Bank are agencies, there are massive subsidies on electricity; healthcare; food; education; energy; and some other key sectors. I recently read a post of President Joe Biden where he advocated for increments in salaries of healthcare workers, as well as the cancellation of Students Debts. But our own IMF and World Bank stooges like President Tinubu are signing Students Loans Scheme and also undermining the health sector by badly and sparingly paying nurses and doctors.

Also, it is a big insult on Nigeria that both IMF and World Bank are just minute agencies in the US, and these elements boss over the Nigerian government. They even subject Nigerian Presidential candidates to neo-liberal commitments through treaties and Chatham House speeches and undertakings.

It is trite to conclude that Nigeria needs Anti-Imperialist leaders who can call the bluff of US, UK, France, and China’s intrusions into the affairs of Nigeria. Such Leader must not be a neo-liberal subscriber and believer in the Capitalist plundering of the country. Only a believer in the redistribution of wealth in Nigeria can truly fight for the independent and advanced growth cum development that would favour majority of Nigerians over the current conditions where only a few rich gets richer.

Kunle Wizeman Àjàyí, is a student of Theater Arts, University of Ibadan.

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