That Nigeria may reach the promised land
The yuletide season has been rather gloomy as the biggest economy in Africa, Nigeria, remains stuck in a painful recession with no end in sight. The government revenue has fallen by as much as 33 per cent while out of the 36 states, 27 cannot pay salaries of their workers with the state governors constantly reminding everyone that there is no where they can source for funds.
Businesses have ceased to expand, there is decline in real income, slowdown of industrial production, high rate of unemployment, salary cuts, job losses have and a big slump in consumer spending. Things are generally getting more and more difficult for the average Nigerian. It has certainly become imperative for the Nigerian government to ameliorate the sufferings of the people and for every Nigerian to understand the implications and adjust our daily economic activities and lifestyle.
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a recession is the significant decline in economic activity across the economy, lasting longer than three to four months, normally visible in real gross domestic product (GDP), real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale-retail sales. The GDP of an economy is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country borders in a specific time period. It is a good measure of the economic activity and is a benchmark for government budgeting, income and expenditure, investment inflows in and out of an economy, among others. The private sector also relies on the GDP of a country to determine which areas have robust economic activity by helping them decide where to invest scarce resources.
Many factors contribute to an economy fall into a recession, but the major cause is inflation, which is a sustained increase in the general level of prices for goods and services. The low prices of oil, the volatile state of oil production in Nigeria now and bad debts gathered over time have led to lower purchasing power and foreign exchange scarcity. Every naira now buys a smaller percentage of good or service.
By January 1, 2016, the population of Nigeria was estimated to be 184, 635 279 people, projected to reach 189, 559 502 people in 2017. About 40.9 per cent of this population is under 15 years of age while 3.1 per cent is above 65 years, meaning that each working person in Nigeria must provide goods and services for himself or herself and cover expenditure of at least one child or aged person additionally. Nigeria is now rated one of the poorest countries in the world, with over 64 per cent of her population living below poverty line, a country that was once the 30th richest country in the world in the 1970s! Life expectancy is a saddening 47.6 years while the rate of illiteracy and youth unemployment is over 50 and 42 per cent, respectively.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in one of his Independence Anniversary Speeches had stated that: All my adult life, I have always earned a salary and I know what it is like when your salary simply is not enough. In every part of our nation, people are making incredible sacrifices. No doubt, governing this great nation should not be business as usual. What we need is good governance.
It is quite heart-warming to know that the Buhari administration is fulfilling its promise to fight insurgency and corruption in Nigeria. Though our collective wealth has been recovered from all over the world, it, however, seems to many that the President appears to be carefully picking his battles on whom to probe or not to in the anti-corruption fight, thereby questioning its sincerity. Our legislators are enmeshed in accusations and counter-accusations of corruption, day in, day out, and there is profligate behaviour in this administration, which is fast surpassing that of previous administrations. The anti-corruption crusade of this administration can only be executed through judicious management of the national wealth and implementation of programmes to alleviate poverty.
Beyond that, impersonal institutions, ideologies and public policies are fundamental in shaping our political life. Social, economic and political poverty has created frustration, loss of hope, reduced the value placed on life and compromised moral values. One would ask, is it a case of lawmakers being the law breakers? Where are the sacrifices made for our beloved country, Nigeria? Trying to woo foreign investors into the country is also an impressive idea but that may not happen in an environment of political and economic instability. Nigeria is undoubtedly the most attractive country for business in Africa. With approximately 70 per cent youth population, there is an abundance of human resources.
But as at today, Nigeria is fast becoming the most dangerous country to do business in. Inadequate infrastructure, erratic power, water, telephone and fuel supply, inefficient civil service, inadequate crime control, poor judicial system, inadequate health care and educational system at all levels still plague the country. The state appears to have relinquished virtually all its functions as each household now provides its own roads, electricity and water supply, education for their children, security of life and property.
As a way forward, extreme caution should be taken before ideas are promulgated and their implementations or execution should be well weighed. The government should do well to use the participatory development approach as it is appropriate for government to ensure their citizen’s active participation in formulating and implementing projects of which they are meant to be the beneficiaries. The policy of providing jobs for the unemployed without stimulating production is as good as building on a faulty foundation. If production is encouraged in a market as huge as ours, jobs will automatically be created as many of the unemployed are likely to become the job creators once an enabling environment is created.
And for the citizenry, the best way to surviving a recession is to cut back heavily on consumption and reduce spending. We need to spend on what we need and not what we want. Our country’s economic mismanagement and the ensuing intolerable levels of hardship is fast putting an end to our culture of being your brother’s keeper. We demand good governance and restoration of our dignity! It is high time we took responsibility for our country, Nigeria.
• Dr. Adenubi writes from the Dept. of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa.