Tinubu, Sanusi, Subsidies And Economies Of Empathy, By Farooq Kperogi

IN response to my September 30 column titled “Thought Subsidy Was Bad. Why is Tinubu Bringing it Back?” a Facebook follower of mine by the name of Anas Mundi asked, “So why is SLS [i.e., Sanusi Lamido Sanusi] always agitating for fuel subsidy removal? I still don’t get it really!!”

My curt, perfunctory, irritated response was: “Because his entire life—from birth to now—has been subsidized, so he lacks empathy. He thinks only he and his ilk deserve subsidies. He is a spoiled, bratty sadist.

Notice that Sanusi is only appealing to the victims of his economic policy prescriptions to learn to “endure the hardship” the policies cause them. He never said anything about the Tinubu government’s unexampled profligate and corrupt expenditures.

For the first time in Nigeria’s history, we now have nearly 50 ministers—with all the avoidable waste that entails. State governors have taken a cue and have enlarged their cabinets, too. The government is growing while the people are groaning, but that’s not a problem for Sanusi.

It recently came to light that President Bola Tinubu spent $507,384, which is equivalent to nearly 400 million naira for his hotel accommodation in New York when he attended the UN General Assembly in September. We also learned that the federal government has requested a $1.5 billion loan to buy new cars for government officials, including SUVs for each of 360 members of the House of Representatives that will cost N160 million per car.

These are merely minor examples of major eyewatering squandermania that is happening in governance, which critics of subsidies that benefit the poor never talk about.

How about the unconscionably outrageous trillions of naira that Nigeria spends on its refineries that don’t work? We learned in May this year that the government spent N11.350 trillion to rehabilitate Nigeria’s three refineries that have never refined a single drop of petrol in decades. But that doesn’t worry people like Sanusi.

Sanusi’s concerns about government expenditures are activated only when the expenditures might benefit poor people. He has a deep-seated loathing for everyday folks and doesn’t have the skills or the intellectual gift to hide it.

This is a Sanusi that raided the treasury of the Kano Emirate Council like a conscienceless bandit. In an April 8, 2017, investigation by Jaafar Jaafar titled “A word for Emir Sanusi,” we learned that Sanusi inherited more than N1 billion in the treasury of Kano Emirate Council and squandered it “on exotic cars, unnecessary ‘restructuring’ of the palace, frequent foreign travels, chartered flights, customised sets of Christian Louboutin spiked shoes and Moroccan costumes, Internet bills, among others.”

As soon as he became an emir, he paid himself a monthly salary of N12m. “Mr Sanusi’s predecessor, Ado Bayero, was paying himself an average of N1.5 million,” Jaafar Jaafar pointed out. Sanusi also “spent N7m on Internet in ONE month” in 2017. From June 29, 2015 to February 9,” 2015, he spent N37,054,192.06 “on Airtel”. As Jaafar pointed out, “this amount alone could build a modest school or a cottage hospital with equipment as a way of matching his words with action.”

Jaafar’s exposes about Sanusi’s corruption as emir, which he couldn’t deny, caused the Kano State’s anti-corruption agency to probe him and had wanted to use the outcome of the probe to dethrone him but for the intervention of elder statesmen from the North.

A person with this sordid record and elite subsidies thinks the miserly subsidies that make life a little bearable for ordinary people are too much and must be eliminated.