A Dangerous Unforced Error

A Dangerous Unforced Error

Anthony Kila faults recent statement credited to Vice President Kashim Shettima that the removal of fuel subsidy will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the country saying that position stands logic on the head.

Dear Vice President Kashim Shettima?

 With all the issues going on in the world, I never imagined that our first public correspondence with you would be so soon and would be in this tone.

Today’s epistle is addressed to you because of the statement attributed to you at the just concluded workshop with the theme “Unpacking the outcomes of the 58 sessions of the subsidiary bodies of the United Nations framework convention on climate change,” the workshop, we are told, was organised by the National Council on Climate Change. You were reported to have said among other things that “Subsidy removal will reduce carbon dioxide emissions”.

In a world very permeated by fake and stupid news, I have learnt to be prudent about what I read on social media, my instinct was to check with a reliable news room to see if the story I got about you was true and alas an editor not only confirmed it was true, he clinically added a text that showed me you even collaborated your statement with some math.

The statement showed that you, through your Deputy Chief of Staff, Senator Ibrahim Hassan, said “…at the onset of this administration, President Bola Tinubu took the bold step to put an end to the petrol subsidy. Preliminary analysis conducted by the National Council on Climate Change on the co-benefits of fuel subsidy removal indicates that there has been about a 30 per cent reduction in daily fuel consumption, amounting to about 20 million litres, equivalent to an estimated daily saving of 42,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.When projected over one year, it amounts to over 15 million tonnes of CO2 saved, representing about 40 per cent greenhouse gas reduction from the baseline projection of 45 million metric tonnes of total GHG carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.

This places Nigeria on course to achieve our NDC targets ahead of time…,”.

I have an indecent suggestion for you, Mr. Vice President, why wait till 2030?

Imagine how much carbon dioxide emission we can reduce by 2024 if we put a total ban on cars, buses, lorries and planes.

Dear Mr. Vice President, what were you doing sir? Showing off your famous monemonist skills? Lest we become guilty of what we accuse others of doing, it is important we are clear on some vital issues and on an issue as crucial as this one, there is no other way to put it but to in simple, very clear and uncompromising terms, tell you that your statement is not only vexatious and wrong, it is also a very dangerous unforced error.

It is important to put all these into context. We know each other, let us hence remind others that unlike those whose ideas of you are formed based on superficial evaluation induced by partisan bias, ethnic and religious ignorance and or prejudice, I have a more than fairly detailed knowledge of who you are.

Professionally, you were not just a governor and after that a Senator, more importantly you were a banker, and a real banker that worked in branches, one that sat and met with real people and businesses.

On personal a level, you are a relatively young man that has travelled and lived in many parts of the country for work, leisure and study. You not only studied in the core north of the country, in very good schools it should be said (from Biu to Potsikum to Maiduguri), you also studied for and obtained a post graduate degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of Ibadan.

How can you, Mr. Vice President, with such a profile and background go to the public with a statement that claims and celebrates the collateral consequences of a painful, controversial and expensive policy.

That is a strategic error or at least it does not show strategic thinking.

Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, Mr. Vice President, but I am very close to certain that there is no minutes of any meeting or consultations held before the announcement of the removal of fuel subsidy, let alone explicit explanations for the removal that indicate that one of the major reasons for removing fuel subsidy is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Linking the removal of fuel subsidy to the reduction of carbon dioxide is post factum justification that gives weight to the suspicions and fear of the many that think or fear that the government has no clear idea of what it is doing.

To make matters worse, this your emission statement was not even necessary, there was no pressure from any legitimate and visible stakeholder to claim and celebrate the reduction of carbon dioxide in today’s Nigeria.

What matters most to people these days are the cost of transportation, galloping inflation, unemployment, nosediving of the naira and general poverty made worse by insecurity.

To bring up this issue of reduction of carbon dioxide to people thinking of how to deal with all such problems and still pay for rising school fees, is an index of a scary disconnection from reality.

Saying fuel subsidy will reduce carbon dioxide emission to Nigerians in August 2023 smacks of an insensitive use of facts and logic. It is like saying to a person who has just lost, or is about to lose, a dear one to death that the total cost of buying gifts will certainly reduce since there will be fewer dear ones to cater for.

One of the many things that history has taught us and continues to teach us about leadership is that regimes and empires fall, battles are lost, leaders fail and people rebel when leadership fails to connect with followership. The why can be readily understood. Why would the most loyal but slightly discerning or very needy followers continue to follow a leader that does not seem to understand their concerns and needs? Why would the most conforming citizens not be tempted to rebel if they start to feel that leadership is not working for their good?

Why would an opponent not summon up courage to conceive and even implement an assault if they suspect or can prove that leadership is not perceived as connected to and caring of their base?

Dear Mr. Vice President let me through you tell all organs of government that things are worse than it seems for many in the country and that this is not the time for words or deeds that can be misconstrued.

All actions and utterances of government need to be seen as incontrovertibly geared towards providing solutions that will aid the reduction of immediate pains of those in whose name you have taken an oath to govern.

Where you have no solutions, please do and say only things that show care and connection.

Join me if you can on twitter @anthonykila to continue these conversations.

-Kila is Institute Director at CIAPS. www.ciaps.org.

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