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FASHOLA TRUE FACE: PRICING NIGERIANS OUT OF MARKET

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On the minimum wage of 18K, there is nothing left by the time we pay tolls at Lekki or fees at Lagos State University. Ouch, gas deregulation nko! Some of us just cannot understand why these have to be during the reign of a bona fide Lagosian. There are some fears in Lagos circles that a plague has been place on Fashola intentionally to undo and eclipse his goodwill or whatever he has done in Lagos. You can bet your last 100 naira that his backers today will come out in future disowning him, saying we warned him.

Nigerians are very sensitive when it comes to one of their own and the Fashola family is well known in Lagos. There is not much more in taxes Lagosians can pay without sacrificing everything they have worked for in their young or old age. Lagos is now made up of all walks of life, even non-Africans but when it comes to planning for the future of the State, how many average Nigerians are taken into consideration?

Those of us that have not seen other places beyond our nose, at least know that toll roads are constructed to attract motorists looking for faster and more efficient ways of getting to their destinations. In spite of the fact that people have to pay to use it, they are attracted by the amount of time they can save traveling on it, not forced by some government bureaucrats and lack of primary roads to use it. It is not built on existing road paid for by taxpayer and decorated with flowers. Side roads for convenience of residents have turned into alternate new tolling centers.

We all dream of a megacities and star wars but only if it can benefit Nigerians. Lagos, like the rest of the Country is now being priced out of the pockets of the average Nigerians. We are not ruled by colonialists or the new lenders from Far East of West but the policies by our own governments can hardly be for the benefit of Africans. When we can no longer afford local universities because we are asked to name any world university that charge the same rate or travel from our homes without paying more than minimum wage, we are in trouble.

It is increasingly difficult to separate Fashola from Tinubu and we are reminded: we told you so! How much money is enough for one man, one family or one tiny class of people? No state in the Country generates as much tax as Lagos but none of them generate as much debt as Lagos. Even if this is taken as an investment, in order to pay back, we have to import high income earners from abroad since the ordinary Nigerians lack the means to pay for the projects governments embark on. Not even Diaspora Nigerians can afford homes built by some governments!

Lagos has already priced itself out of local market. Indeed, Nigerian mega cities are pricing themselves out of local markets. When products and services are so expensive that majority of people that live in that city cannot pay for them, we are digging a hole for ourselves. Reacting to higher prices, unions rightly call for living wage to meet this demand. Unfortunately, it is like chasing a ghost because prices rise faster than wages.

We need not fool ourselves, the only conscientious investors in Nigerian markets are Nigerians at home and abroad. If the local people cannot afford Lagos and other mega cities as Diaspora abroad purchasing capacity has been eroded by ever increasing prices, we must look for others to pay. If they pay, they want returns on their money, on their investments and their technical skill. Unlike Nigerians that money will be taken out. Whatever remains, they use their discretionary power to manipulate Nigerians that must succumb. Africans selling out Africans in Africa.

Which government anywhere in the whole world prices their average citizens out of the market? These are fundamentals our planners need to take into consideration before demanding and taxing the average man to death in Nigeria. This is the same reason conservatives fight to limit the role of government. The government is used in Nigeria as money making enterprise to suck as much money as they can out of ordinary folks into the pocket of vultures.

The role of government is to do what individuals cannot do but can collectively be achieved. It is the reason we expect government to provide good roads to facilitate travel, communication and commerce. We expect government to provide police and fire fighters to avoid damage to the liberty of individuals and properties. Even a highly skilled work force, need adequate training and education provided by governments. Nigeria has abundant energy but greed does not allow us to provide power and infrastructure for commercial and domestic use.

As soon as it comes to how to exploit the masses, our governments jump in for the money they can make into individual pockets. It is even worse in Nigeria because our local and Federal governments are mostly interested in projects that can generate foreign currencies, not the one that will strengthen the value of naira at home making manufactured products for export. But then, the Central Bank makes foreign currencies available for every Sule and Tunde that wants it.

There is no government in Lagos State that has not made money because it is the center of Nigeria commerce where products and people exchange commercial transactions. Out of all these governments in Lagos, Jakande still stands out as the most productive. Contracts and commercial businesses were transacted during his time as any other reign. The difference is that each contractor knew the amount of profit he could make before going in.

What we have these days in Nigeria are dare-devils that are willing to screw a hot shaft through their mothers’ asses in order to make obscene profit. If it is profit alone they are willing to make, fine. They make a killing. You will not find many Lagosians that think Fashola belongs to any of these unscrupulous elements. He was never brought up as a desperado and his family compound show no resemblance to the old bootleggers.

However, you can never trust a finger dipped in oil not messing up the rest. It is sad that people can now hardly differentiate Fashola from Tinubu. Most politicians do not realize that their reigns are limited to certain number of years, even as a dictator. What good is power when it is gone and what good is money you cannot spend when you die. It is our legacy in life that transcends our grandchildren. What we do with each when we are still hale and hearty matters.

Politicians cannot hide behind politics to inflict pain on people. When we cry, we cry out of pain and misery, not out of spite. The poorer we get the more all levels of government and every reign want from us, telling us to bear the pain a little longer, while they party in Dubai. It is not their fault; it is the fault of the other guy. But only a dying man knows the pinch of death.

Written by Farouk Martins Aresa.

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