Scharfe Kritik an UNO und Direktor des US-amerikanischen-Earth-Instituts und Sonderberaters des UN-Generalsekretärs, des US-Amerikaners,Jeffey Sachs: Er hatte die nigerianische Regierung für die Streichung der Benzinsubentionen gelobt! Die Regierung berief sich dann auf die Vereinten Nationen. Inzwischen erklärt die UNO, Sachs habe als Privatperson gesprochen. Tragisch, denn Sachs steht als kritischer Ökonom eigentlich für die sozialen Menschenrechte und die Beseitigung von Armut und die Solidarität mit Occupy Wallstreet! War ihm bei allen abstrakt sinnvollen volkswirtschaftlichen Überlegungen nicht klar, wie sich die Armut dadurch verschärft und wie wenig Vertrauen die Nigerianer in die Versprechen ihres Staates haben?
Jeffrey Sachs mit dem nigerianischen Präsidenten
Nigeria: UN, MDGs and Fuel Subsidy Removal
9 January 2012
It was reported that the United Nations (UN) commended President Jonathan for withdrawing the subsidy on petroleum products, and described the move as „a bold and correct policy“.
Speaking during a visit to President Jonathan at the State House, Abuja, the Special Adviser to the United Nations‘ Secretary General, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, was reported to have said the funds from the removal of subsidy would go a long way to rapid infrastructural development and the health sector.
Also Sachs reportedly commended Nigeria’s president for his conditional grants to local governments for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, describing it as „one of the most innovative schemes of using national resources for local government development“. Really? Fuel price hike is a „bold and correct policy“ according to the UN! Ordinarily the comment of Under Secretary Sachs should have been ignored as an unnecessary comic relief for a troubled UN looking for an escape from numerous challenges facing it with respect to its primary mandate of global peace keeping. With nuclear proliferation, senseless wars of attritions all over the world under its miserable watch, decimation of its member-states (witness Sudan) foreign imposed regime changes, observers rightly reason that the UN has enough preoccupation beyond petty meddlesomeness in petroleum product pricing in Nigeria. Of what relevance then is UN’s reported support for fuel subsidy removal? For one the message is as significant as the messenger.
First the message; That prohibitive fuel price increases occasioned by sudden withdrawal of subsidy on petroleum product would help the country meet the MDGs is the most unacceptable global official lip service to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in recent times. It would be recalled that the turn of the new Millennium offered another opportunity for Heads of Government and States to revisit the issue of development and underdevelopment. It was rightly observed that the dramatic growth and development of the 20th century had not translated into prosperity for many but in many instance had entrenched poverty among many.
In recognition of this fact, an unprecedented gathering of 189 Heads of States and Governments (including Nigeria’s government) in 2000, signed on to a Millennium Declaration. The historic declaration was aimed at eradicating poverty, promoting human dignity, achieving peace, democracy and environmental sustainability in the 21st century. The Declaration enunciated critical eight Millennium Development Goals, 18 targets and 48 indicators that establish time bound targets for advancing human development. They are as follows; Goal 1- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by half in 15 years to the new century. Extreme poverty affects the proportion of the population that lives below a US$ per day. Goal 2- Achieve universal primary education- every child regardless of gender must complete full course of primary schooling.
Goal 3- Promote gender equality and empower women- eliminate gender inequality in primary and secondary education by 2005 and to all levels of education by 2015. Goal 4- Reduce child mortality by two third between 1990 and 2015. Goal 5- Improve maternity health by reducing maternity mortality rate by two third between 1990 and 2015.Goal 6- Combat HIV/AIDS, malarial and other diseases. Goal 7- Ensure environmental sustainability. Goal 8- Develop a global partnership for development. The agenda set in 2000 was reviewed in 2005 and it was self evident that many African countries, including Nigeria were far from attaining the goals.
The incessant increases in the prices of petroleum products as favoured by deregulation of downstream petroleum sector impact negatively on poverty eradication which is the first of the MDGs no thanks to price inflation that erodes wage incomes in particular. Similarly high prices of kerosene make rural dwellers to cut down trees for energy, thus leading to de-forestation which undermines Goal 7 of the Millennium Declaration dealing with sustainable development. So what then is Sachs up to? Working towards the realisation of the goals or uncritically supporting policies that undermine national efforts to meet the goal?
Secondly is the messenger. Jeffery Sachs is not just an undersecretary of UN but also a famous development scholar who came to limelight with his passion for poverty eradication. He is the celebrated author of the best seller; The End of Poverty: How we can make Happen in our lifetime. He once argued that Unequal global economic development occasioned particularly by the abysmal failure of Structural adjustment programme as recommended by IMF and World Bank in Africa called for re-theorizing of development with a view of solving the problems of the places where economic development is not working, where people are still off the ladder of development or are stuck on its lowest rungs.
Happily President Jonathan has come to realise that contrary to UN claim this policy is far from being bold and correct. Thanks to the citizens who are protesting against unprecedented increase in prices of a product for which there is no meaningful substitute. Indeed this policy is imposing more pain on the citizens and may take us away from meeting the MDGs. The bold measures Nigerians want must be the drastic cut in costs of governance (without value addition). Ironically the 25 percent cut in Executive pay (what of the legislative pay?) is nothing compared to 160 per cent in increase in price of petroleum products, a singular critical failure factor in worsening poverty since mid eighties in Nigeria.