03 Jul

The week ahead – Stock up on petrol

June 29th, 2015 marked exactly 30 days since Muhammadu Buhari took over as President, and it has not been a rosy month given that he promised so much during the campaign. It appears that almost all sectors in the country are suffering from the seeming lethargy at the Presidential Villa, from energy crises to heightened Boko Haram attacks, and also the political crisis in the All Progressive Congress following the election of principal officers at the National Assembly.

Energy will be a problem

There are still fuel queues all over the country, and only last week, Austin Avuru, the MD of SEPLAT, an oil exploration firm in Nigeria opined that the federal government may not be able to pay for subsidy in the next three weeks. If that happens, it will exacerbate the current fuel woes, and the new government, without any cabinet in place and no critical appointments may be unable to muster the coordination and traction to resolve this problem. Some have called for removal of the subsidy entirely, but others like Sahara Energy Group CEO, Tonye Cole, cautioned that the abrupt removal will lead to further hardship in terms of inflation and other social and economic dislocation.

A few days ago, an official of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission said that the transmission grid suffered a major collapse, which has led to further loading shedding across the country. This load shedding has caused a disruption in the relatively stable power supply that Nigerians have enjoyed since May 29th. The power situation coupled with a failure to supply petrol would lead to another round of struggle to buy and hoard fuel by individuals and organizations since petrol is fuel by which most power generating sets in the country are run.

Security will not improve

Since May 29th, Boko Haram has changed tact and moved more to person borne IEDs and isolated raids on villages, killing hundreds of citizens in the North-East. It appears the strategy and coordination that ensured the military took back territories, and put Boko Haram on back foot is being reversed.

President Buhari has so far retained the service chiefs, and had ordered the command and control relocated to Maiduguri, but the success that ought to come with that has not happened. There have been more attacks, the most recent being the slaughter of 94 persons at Kukawa village.

Though Boko Haram is at this moment the flagship of human security crises in Nigeria, kidnapping for ransom continues to rage in the South and West. Prominent Nigerians and members of the middle class are still being kidnapped, with some lucky to escape after the payment of huge sums, while others are murdered in cold blood. This has heighted the security problem in those regions.

APC will not resolve its crisis

The political crisis currently engulfing the President’s party seems to have gone unabated and efforts to resolve the issues are not moving as fast as many had hoped. The president met with the factions of the APC in a bid to resolve the crisis. However, he found that most are holding tenaciously to their positions. A national executive committee meeting of the party is being held as this report was being prepared, but at this time, various leaders within the party are accusing one after another of regional domination.

Recommendations

The President should intervene as a matter of urgency to resolve the issues surrounding fuel importation and subsidy with a view to ensuring a steady supply, and problems around the instability within the power sector needs to be addressed.

The government needs to reappraise the situation in the North East and move quickly to ensure Boko Harm does not have free movement across the region. Closer coordination and daily briefings should be introduced by the President to arrest the fast deteriorating situation, including the kidnapping syndicate in the South and West.

Finally, the national assembly crises should be resolved by the APC permanently so that the country can move ahead to other urgent national issues, as advocated by Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president.