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Two Viral Social Media Messages on Subsidy

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. For people who are not familiar with the lingo of social media, viral messages are online messages that ar...

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

For people who are not familiar with the lingo of social media, viral messages are online messages that are so popular, so compellingly poignant, and so creative and thoughtful that users compulsively share them with scores of friends and family members across multiple platforms—email forwards, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, blogs, YouTube videos, etc.—thereby extending their scope and power beyond the bounds of traditional notions of space and time. 

Some viral messages reach millions of people through social networks and can sometimes have a wider reach and a greater social/political impact than traditional mass-mediated messages. That is why “viral marketing” is becoming a huge deal in contemporary integrated marketing communication.

Anyway, one of the ancillary effects of the last “Occupy Nigeria” revolt is that it has caused Nigerians to develop a heightened awareness of and curiosity about the cost and consequences of subsidizing the lifestyles of our rulers and about good governance and transparency. The messages I reproduce below, which I also shared on my Facebook page, have gone viral in the Nigerian cyberspace. In very ingenious and thoughtful ways, they call attention to corruption and waste in government and creatively mock the crying incompetence and inconsistencies of the people who make policies for us.

But just because something has gone viral on the Internet is not enough reason to suppose that everyone has seen it. In this week’s column, I have chosen to share these creative and factually accurate messages with people who are not (yet) denizens of the social media world.

The first viral message is titled, “How Jonathan is cutting waste in government.” It’s a satirical but factual critique of waste and corruption in government based on a close analysis of the 2012 budget that the Jonathan administration sent to the National Assembly. Complex figures are broken down into easily digestible bits of information so that ordinary people can relate to them. It was written by a Nigerian blogger named Japh Omojuwa. What follows is slightly edited for grammar.
1. The daily upkeep of our “able” president and his deputy costs us N20 million a day.
2. Local travels for Namadi and Goodluck cost us N2 million every day
3. International travels for Namadi and Goodluck cost us N3 million every day
4. Both Namadi and Goodluck have N600 million in the budget for "welfare"
5. Anyim's office will spend N65 million on trees when the FCT spent less than N50 million on same for over 4 years. If you can take it, I can't! I will engage all within and without to make this right
6. What kind of public address system costs N150million? Will Michael Jackson be performing inside Aso Rock?
7. What kind of desk top costs N300,000? Has Steve Jobs sent one from heaven?
8. Tell me a consumer laptop brand that costs N314,000. Was it patented in heaven?
9. Scanners of N190,000 and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said she was satisfied with her budget. I am disappointed!
10. N161 million for buses in the presidency. Are they starting a presidential palliative transport company?
11. N1.8 billion to maintain existing furniture, offices and quarters? Are we hosting Barack and Michelle every day?
12. Acquisition of computer software for N2.5 billion. Are we starting a computer company called CabalSoft?
13. Stationery, magazines, newspapers for N4.5 billion. Why not buy the printing press?
14. N295 million for new furniture. Are we moving the Federal Capital Territory again?
15. Maintenance of vehicles and furniture for N17billion. Can we just buy shares in Toyota instead?
16. Research and Development to cost N27 billion. Is Aso Rock now a research company? Lord have mercy!
We can save hundreds of billions of Naira from wasteful spending in the 50 ministries, agencies and departments this year.
Now you know this is beyond a fight about petrol taxes/subsidy; it's a fight for the soul of our country. Will you back out?
The second viral message is based on the outcome of the Farouk Lawan-led ad hoc House of Reps committee that is looking into the management of fuel subsidy. It brings to light the downright fraudulence and ignorance of the vociferous advocates of petrol price hike. It was written by a Julius Izuagie Umogbai and is based on a summary of the responses given by different government officials to questions posed by Farouk Lawan.
Farouk Lawan:  What is Nigeria’s daily fuel consumption?
Diezani: 52 million liters
NNPC: 35 million liters
DPR: 43 million liters
PPPRA: 24 million liters
Okonjo-Iweala: 40 million liters
Farouk Lawan: What was the subsidy for 2011?
Diezani: 1.4 trillion naira
Okonjo-Iweala: 1.3 trillion naira
Sanusi Lamido: 1.7 trillion naira
Farouk Lawan: Can we have the KPMG REPORT?
Okonjo-Iweala: I have to go through the report first
Diezani: I have not seen the report
Farouk Lawan: What is the production capacity of our local refineries?
NNPC: 30%
PPPRA: 20%
DPR: 13%
Diezani: 15%
Farouk Lawan: Does Nigeria pay subsidy on locally refined products?
Diezaini: It depends
NNPC: The lay man cannot understand how it’s done
Farouk Lawan: Why is Kerosene still scarce?
Diezani: Because it’s used by the aviation industry as aviation fuel
NNPC: Because there is no subsidy so NNPC overstretched its resources
PPPRA: It’s not properly deregulated
Farouk Lawan: what is the balance in the subsidy accounts?
Diezani: It’s a virtual account
NNPC: There is no account in existence as the layman will look at it
PPPRA: The account is a technical one
CBN: There is no account with us for subsidy
Okonjo-Iweala: The account exists but not with a bank
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  1. We need to understand that changes comes slowly. Dr. Iweala has pointed out that the recurrent expenditure would slide further.

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