by Dr Adetolu Ademujimi
A renowned Professor of Public leadership in the UK, Keith Grint, had previously situated many socioeconomic problems as faced in Nigeria as one prototype of societal problems he referred to as “wicked”. In his famous research publication titled “Wicked Problems and Clumsy solutions”, Grint described problems that “cannot be solved with a known algorithm” as wicked and these include obesity, hunger, terrorism, educational frameworks etc. Characteristically, Grint says these are problems for LEADERSHIP to ‘try’ to solve, knowing that their solutions are not “true or false, but good or bad”. Nigeria definitely has its fair share of the endless global list of wicked problems.
On the other hand, the impactful scholar posited that “tame problems” can be solved by “simply applying the right algorithm”. They usually have definitive solutions that can be learnt or adopted from previous experiences within a geographical area or elsewhere. I stand to be corrected; fuel subsidy regime is a tame problem and not a wicked one. Worse still, rather than formulate rational and before-used solutions, the Federal Government of Nigeria plans to implement extremely tacky measures as her own profund panacea and my heart simply bleeds.
First, a whopping 3 trillion naira is said to be expended on fuel subsidies annually and it is only logical to put an end to that waste amidst the dwindling revenue receipts from crude oil sales in a country that depends on this non-reneweable fuel for about 70% of her income. However, how and what will the humongous saving be deployed to? Another colossal waste packaged as N5,000 monthly stipends to 40 million Nigerians? Who conceptualized such tacky strategies? Common! The political elite needs to offer better reasoning outputs with their combined levels of education and exposure.
Secondly, the communication that we shall buy refined petrol at 340 per litre from February 2022 without a mention of a hopeful completion of Dangote’s refinery or modular refineries is also sorely tacky. I thought leadership was meant to communicate hope. Digging deep, however, if Dangote’s refinery is estimated to cost $US 19billion (about 10 trillion naira), would the NNPC MD had done better to end his breaking news with “the Federal Government is also considering lending Alhaji Aliko Dangote the sum of N2.4 trillion to speed up the completion time of his 650,000 bpd-refinery and gradually phase out importation of refined petroleum products”? Will that sound better than the tacky plan to throw out N2.4 trillion to unidentified, unconvincing, poorly targeted 40 million Nigerians? Or are there other time-tested algorithms that are more rational than my propositions herein and can the relevant authorities bring them to the public for debate?
In all, I’m just of the opinion that there are better algorithms to tackle the imbroglio of fuel subsidy removal. It is a tame problem and therefore, let’s desist from tacky solutions.