President Jonathan’s Fuel Subsidy Removal and its Reversal
The recent one-week shut-down of Nigerian economy following government’s fuel subsidy removal cost the economy $1.3b (Wagstyl, 2012). People resisted the good intentioned policy; they perceived that it would aggravate hardship. The resulting annual savings of $8 billion was to be re-channeled to infrastructure (Yusha'u, 2012). It would also eradicate corruption (Wagstyl). During the crisis, local petroleum prices and global oil prices increased by 115% and 0.9% respectively (Yusha'u). Jonathan partially reversed the decision on 16th, setting per-litre price at N97.00 (£0.40). Jonathan faced leadership dilemma: remove subsidy or sustain it. Petroleum price determine other prices in Nigeria. Jonathan chose to remove the subsidy, and the followers passed a vote-of-no-confidence on his leadership. The manner in which Jonathan removed the subsidy and its partial reinstatement is indicative of his leadership qualities which can be situated within a set of leadership paradigms. Leadership paradigms include: Heroic/Weberian charismatic, trait, transactional, New Leadership, post-charismatic leadership, and creative leadership (Rickards, 2012, pp.74-91). First, Jonathan reduced public servant’s allowances including his, demonstrating symbolic leadership, a departure from dominant rational model (Rickards, 2012, p.4). Though people interpreted this positively, however, just like Rickards’ (2012, p. 107) warning that sense-making is different from interpretation, the followers sensed this act to be that Jonathan had not done enough: He needed to reduce the entire government size to reduce spending before subsidy removal. Second, the crisis and its associated cost ($1.3b) were avoidable had the issue been properly handled. Jonathan did not consult widely, neither did he communicate adequately with the followers to enable him understand their feelings before removing the entire subsidy. He demonstrated...
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