Media: The Buhari Albatross

Tell Cover 19How long did it take you to buy fuel into your car last week? And, at what cost, time and money? Now, how much of that hard-earned fuel did you burn in unnecessary traffic jam, much of it caused by queues at the few filling stations dispensing fuel?

It is a cycle; we were at this point some time in the past, then we were told never again shall we see fuel queues. It is actually one of the achievements of the outgoing government. But the administration also realised that the feat came at a great cost to it and the national treasury. However, when it took steps to review it, the pain for the poor and the likely denial of comfort for the few fat cats in the society stood in its way. The upset last week was artificial. It was caused by marketers’ refusal to lift fuel, until the government honoured the outstanding subsidy payment. The stunt worked. Government announced payment of N156 billion!

Perhaps we are getting close to the solution. For, there are people who believe that the term petroleum subsidy is a scam, both in concept and in practice. The good news is that Professor Tam David-West, a leading voice in this school of thought, and many others are influential friends of Muhammadu Buhari, retired general and former head of state who is warming up to re-take the mantle of leadership come May 29. These people also believe that we should be paying far less for one litre of fuel. Therefore the chorus in town is that subsidy is gone for good! So must the queue, as we expect the new government to track the billions believed to have evaporated from the vault of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.

That, we are assured, will be done through the restructuring of the NNPC, a corporation considered a good candidate for probe. To find out the leaks in NNPC and the authenticity of the alleged missing oil money, for example the alleged missing $20 billion, is cheering news. But with efforts that have gone into the search for the money, we wonder whether it will not amount to another Wild Goose Chase. That is the basis for the story written by Salif Atojoko, deputy general editor, business and special projects. He sieved through the reports by the Senate and the forensic report on the same issue. The story is one of our special reports.

While the country waits for Buhari, something happened last week that raises a signal about the temperament of the incoming administration. The temporary ban of the Africa Independent Television, AIT, raises question about how tolerant the new president would be of the press. Anayochukwu Agbo, general editor and head of Abuja Bureau, while also considering the antecedent of the general, points out the dangers inherent in the decision that even the All Progressives Congress, APC had to quickly reverse. The story, Media: The Buhari Albatross, is the cover in this edition.

The second special report is on the fate of families who lost loved ones to election-related violence in the last exercise. Iseribhor Okhueleigbe, assistant editor who was in Rivers State for the two election days anchored the story, The Forgotten Victims, with reports from other places.

Do have a blessed week.

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