A STUDY ON THE IMPACT OF PUBLIC OPINION ON PUBLIC POLICY IN NIGERIA: AN APPRAISAL OF 2010-2012
This research work that analysis on the impact of public opinion on public policy in Nigeria from 2010-2012 while narrowing it down to the economic policy of deregulation or fuel subsidy removal of 2012. Broadly divided into five chapters, the work breakdown how governmental decisions are being influenced by the opinions of the people in the democracy of Nigeria. History had it that before the discovery of oil, agriculture gave Nigeria about 70% of her income until now oil has earned Nigeria a higher foreign income. Hence, this work fills the gap and age answers to questions on whether public policies are products of public opinion, the impact of public opinion on public policies and if the deregulation is a solution to poverty and underdevelopment. The system theory became the theoretical framework which deals on policy input and policy out put. A historical analysis was made on the topic was made, while the effect of public opinion on public policies were also discovered. Policies for managing poverty and underdevelopment were broken-down in the work. At the end, the work gives an insight and explains the reasons behind policy making in Nigeria and also gave possible solutions to the issue.
Since independence in 1960 in Nigeria, different governments have embrace on one programme or another. The research work is to examine the activities of the public opinion on public policy from 2010-2012, hence, narrowing it down to an economic reform policy of the deregulation of the downstream oil sector in Nigeria, also known as the fuel subsidy removal in Nigeria.
Nigeria is a democratic nation. One of the principles of democracy is the operation of fundamental human rights, which of allows for the freedom of speech, which is on the view of the majority, influencing governmental decisions. Public policy as applied to politics is seen as a statement of a principle with their supporting rules of action, that conditions and governs the achievement of their goals. Government usually engages in different programmes, as the government is the authoritative body because they are backed up by the law. Government also has both power and authority to execute their duties and also ensure compliance. These programes are directed towards solving a particular programmes or preempting them. Therefore, programmes are not just mode for fun of making them, they are made to solve the societal needs. They entail the expenditure of public funds.
Before colonialization, the economies of the different kingdoms that now constitute the Nigeria political entity were based on agriculture. Since independence in 1960, the role of agriculture in the economy of Nigeria has been on the downward trend with regards to its contribution to GDP. Its share to GDP fell from 61.5% in 1963/1964 to 14.6% in 1983. This has been partly due to the emergence of oil-Reynolds (1975) argued that agricultural development can promote economic development of the underdeveloped countries in four different ways:
1. By increasing the supply of food available for domestic consumption and realizing the needed labour for industrial employment.
2. By enlarging the size of the domestic market for the manufacturing sectors.
3. By increasing the supply of domestic savings
4. By providing the foreign exchange earned by agricultural exports.
Since the discovery of oil, which earns us our foreign exchange, agriculture has been abandoned. Exploration for crude petroleum oil in Nigeria first began in 1980. But serious and sustained efforts did not happen until shell Darcy petroleum Company commenced operations in 1935. It took this company more twenty years to discover petroleum crude oil in commercial quantities in Oloibiri in 1956. Nevertheless, oil price has never been satiable in the country as successive governments keep adjusting the price upwards beyond the affordability of the common citizens of the oil producing country. Like in the price of petroleum products is a global phenomena problem in the international market.
Specifically, oil prices in Nigeria have been on a continuous increase since the beginning of 2004 and this has happened despite the organization of petroleum Exporting countries (OPEC) increase in its oil out put. Earlier in 2004, the run up in oil price was attributed to surging demand for petroleum products due to global economy. Then, it was the unrest in Nigeria. Concerning the security of oil, supplies have heightened more recently. Nigeria is the sixth oil producing nation in the world.
The subsidy removal on fuel has increase the price of oil. In the past, the increase in price occurred mostly in the extent of disruption to oil supply. Now, the deregulation policy has heightened the price of oil disruption of oil supply. There is concern the current step rise in the price of oil as a result of the removal of subsidy on fuel could have an adverse impact on the Nigeria economy; that is currently on road to recovery and expansion. When oil is expensive, people try to use less of it. They may reduce the amount they derive on reduce the temperature to which they heat their houses, which their minor economies will have little or nothing on consumption Higher have less money to spend on other things. This reduces because most goods and services the consumer would have bought have required the use of oil for their production and delivery. If higher oil prices reduce consumer demand very much manufacturers and retails will find that their profits suffer and that they have surplus capacity. They will therefore, deter their plans for expansion. This will result in very large energy savings because work is energy intensive.
The concept of public policy can be seen as simply governmental actions or course to proposed actions that are directed to achieving goals (Ikelugbo 1999). Care Fredrick (1980) defined it as government or one of its divisions by government. The main idea of public policy is that it has to do with the government. It is an action or sets of actions taken by public authorities, it is the out put or production of governmental process and activtieyt. Public involves and affects the wide verity of areas and issues with which government have to do such as the economy, education, health, defence, social welfare, foreign affairs as well as other areas like culture. Sometimes, the government adopts the state coercive agencies like the police to enforce and ensure compliance of policies. Also these coercive agencies end up loosing their lives in the course of ensuring compliance. A case study is in Ilorin, Kwara state a police officer and a youth were feared dead. Their death occurred during a violent demonstration by the youths that engaged the youths and police into a tow hours fight, throwing missiles which led to the use of live bullets by the police.
The subsidy removal on fuel is an economic policy. Nigeria adopted several economic policies for development. The introduction of economic reform programmes started after her independence in 1960. During this period, Niger derived to embark on a programme for development, which they saw its importance for gaining economic independence especially. Still at that, the past colonial masters of Nigeria still control the affairs of the nation. While the past-independent leaders sort assistance from them for development. This was done through the iprotation of industrial technology amongst others, while the assisting countries will give out their conditions. And any developing country like Nigeria that will not submit to the scheme of economic demands or conditions of those aiding them or will not accept their advice and control, usually, will have little choice of developing.
The economic policy have been seen or have given the impression that it is a policy which has been influenced by the western countries or foreign investors based on their interest in the country‘s oil; another way the westerns want to dominate Nigeria again. This has elicited stiff resistance by the Nigeria public through labour unrest and mass protest.
This study therefore, attempts to assess the impact of public opinion on public policy in Nigeria, using the deregulation of the downstream oil sector or oil subsidy removal as our analytical focus.