(Opinion):Petroleum Subsidy Removal, Purchasing Power and My Grouse With Trophy Lager Beer| Alhazan Abiodun R.
“Great leaders are willing to sacrifice the numbers to save the people. Poor Leaders sacrifice the people to save the number.” Simon Sinek.
I was on a tricycle on Sunday going to my usual pun in my hometown, Iseyin when one of the other two passengers was dragging the issue of change from the driver. The driver insisted on collecting N200 for a journey he used to collect N100 for before the May 29th Presidential Inauguration ceremony announcement and the woman would not have any of that. I had to wade in to pay the balance, because it was already becoming a dangerous scene in which the woman was clutching the handle of the tricycle alongside the driver, even while we were on motion. That is one situation that Nigerians have found themselves in since the new government heralded a new price regime of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
Since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (PBAT) announced on the podium during his inauguration as the 16th Executive President of Nigeria, that ‘Petroleum Subsidy is gone’, a fact that has been in existence before the ouster of his predecessor, most Nigerians’ lives have become a situation of jumping from frying pan into the fire.
Analysts have taken time since the moment he spoke this and the immediacy of the actions of petroleum marketers in hoarding the product and outright sale at as much as the amount being sold now that the regime of price from June 1st, 2023 took effect. As at the morning of Tuesday 30th June, 2023, I bought a litre of fuel at Iseyin for N300 and on getting to Ibadan that same morning, it was being sold by all independent oil marketers, except BOVAS at N500.
The new government should have gone ahead with the subsidy removal approach without adding more burden to the already impoverished Nigerians by not playing to the gallery, which the announcement by the new President actually was. If I were PBAT, I would have just omitted that particular line in my speech, wait till after inauguration and call all the stakeholders in the oil industry, labour unions, Governors’ Forum among others to an emergency meeting where the issue of palliatives or cushioning effects of the removal would be discussed and on the second day, the announcement on the cushioning approaches and not bland recourse to what has been discussed before Buhari’s exit in the form of inauguration announcement, which if carefully looked at, has caused many people so much troubles till date.
Yoruba people will say ‘when a bigger hardship weighs one down, the smaller ones will be trampling on somebody.’ Is there any institution overseeing the activities of breweries companies in Nigeria?
Imagine the International Breweries Ltd. (IBL), shortchanging their customers by tampering with the composition of the once-upon-a-time darling beer of mine, which now makes it taste like burnt sugar. Why did I even forget that bodies like Consumer Protection Right bodies have become a department in these major companies, where those that are supposed to be fighting for the welfare of consumers are being treated like partners-in-crime by the companies.
Late last year, the International Breweries introduced the once-forgotten Eagle Lager Beer and since I encountered it at a party through a brother that realized that I was no more happy with Trophy Lager Beer, I thought I have seen the saviour. The taste of Eagle is like that of the beer of old, adoring bitterness that leaves an aftertaste coolness down the throat. But wait, before you can say ‘give me another chilled bottle’, this wicked company has started playing games with us drinkers of cheap beer.
Eagle Lager Beer is predominantly sold at Iseyin, Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State, but since my people have rebelled against the chicanery noticed in the production and taste of Trophy Lager Beer, it has become another dear brewed content they could not do away with, one because it is cheaper, compared to drinks from the stable of Nigerian Breweries, that are as costly as two litters of petroleum and the fact that two bottles are enough to give you a restful night.
Trouble started recently when the IBL started making this particular product scarce and its price rising. My mates with incomes that can only afford cheap beer like Eagle have been looking up to God, not Jesus, because the latter only turned water to wine and not beer. No government to fight for us, no human right body or regulatory agency that will fight our cause.
My resolution is that if IBL is intentionally forcing Trophy Lager Beer on me by hoarding and dropping production quantities of Eagle Lager Beer, I may be forced to kukuma stop drinking before December this year. Lobatan!
Alhazan Abiodun Rilwan is a civil servant, working with Oyo State government.