Nigeria remains a paradox. A nation claimed to be the Giant of Africa, the medium power of the region and the nation with the largest black population in the world. Nigeria remains an enigma. A nation with a culture and psyche, you cannot decipher with the best algorithm or technology. You miss, every time you set your eyes on a marker of hope. You lose, every time you wager that something cannot happen in this country of ours. You get frustrated, every time you anticipate a movement to the positive side of the equation and what you see is a slide to the negative side.
Today we are confronted with the reality of harsh economic meltdown. The helmsman at the currency agency announced the devaluation of the Naira. This is the second announcement after the release of the austerity measures to buoy the economy. We are also confronted with the idea of paying more for goods and services as the lending rate is also increased marginally. The implication is that the common man will be at the receiving end of the blows and cudgels of poverty.
To crown all this, rumours abound that the subsidy on petroleum products will be removed soon. How soon? Is a question that will be answered by the puppeteers from Aso Rock. They are interested in keeping their seat on the rock and may not want to rock the boat now; but rather wait till after the votes in the New Year when they are sure the people of the umbrella will sweep the polls, then may be the best time to unleash the terror of fuel subsidy removal. This, I am sure is the scenario at play since the man with the good luck charm is not ready to commit ‘political harakiri’.
Why Nigeria is a paradox? She is the only democratic country in the world that did not realize that her hands are weak yet abuses the strong. We are a nation trying so hard to get out of its mono- economic bondage. The nation depends mostly on petrol dollar, yet we cannot control the dynamics of OPEC and other oil producing countries of the world. We cannot determine how much we want to sell our products. We cannot even determine how much it should be sold for. We are a nation that produces crude yet cannot provide petrol, kerosene, diesel and lubricants for our people because we lack the political will and economic sense to build refineries.
Also read: Naira devaluation will have ripple effects on economy
Biafra (the dream that had to die) within one year of the civil war used local engineers and technology to develop refineries to fuel its war machineries and generate power for its assets while it lasted. Forty years later, we are still dependent on foreign technology to develop our assets and annoyingly so. We kept on destroying the local fabricated refineries in the Niger Delta. Why? Lack of focus. A nation that is pragmatic would have while arresting the perpetrators as economic saboteurs, hamonise the technology used to develop a cottage industry which in the long run can be used to provide refined products to the teeming population at a reasonable price.
Transformation people (TAN) assaulted our ears and eyes to the fact that other economies of the world are in dire economic troubles but that under Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian economy is immune to this infectious disease. They named so many nations and in the long run assured us that we can go home and sleep with two eyes closed. They confirmed that Nigeria is doing so well under this present administration that they collated over 40million signatures and collected over 100 million naira for his re-election process. They went from one geopolitical region to the other until all the six regions had been covered, spending millions of Naira and finally a grand declaration was held in Abuja. Very expensive declaration yet within two working weeks the bubble burst for the economy of Nigeria. Where did they get the monies spent? Can they account for its sources and spending? Are they willing to transform the country by showing us they have not spent the public funds? Can they publish the names of the donors so that we can be assured that they are not Boko Haram or Nigeria for sale people? Can the governors prove that in supporting this cause, they have not dipped their hands in the public till of their states? These are questions begging for answers.
It is a shame.
Why devalue the economy? What other things could we have done without this austerity measures? Let us explore some of the issues at stake.
The cost of governance- In Nigeria, we have a bloated government (fact). The Executive and the Legislature accounts for gluttonous spending. There are too many agencies of government performing overlapped functions which brings about inefficiency in governance. Each executive officer has several appendages in the form of assistants (Special Assistant -SA, Senior Special Assistant - SSA, Personal Assistant - PA, Chief Personal Assistant - CPA and many other Advisers) ditto to the members of the legislative house. The allowances attached to these portfolios are at best criminal. Yet the government rather than reduce this load prefers the austerity measures on the common people. It is a shame.
Also read: Analysts positive about CBN measures to save naira
The cost of construction and doing business- Nigeria is one of the countries of the world that is very expensive to do business. The cost of construction one kilometer of road will build four kilometers in saner climes. To register a small business alone will cost you an arm and a leg yet, most of this expense never gets to the government accounts. It is diverted into personal accounts by cartels and syndicates, who knows how and are connected to the right source. Yet the president of the country did not think corruption is a major issue affecting the nations’ economy. If a true account of how much funds diverted annually is taken, one might wonder why we need to depend on oil. Imagine how much the NNPC, Nigerian Customs, Immigration, Ports Authority, IRS, Embassies and other agencies of revenue collection had diverted. Just imagine. Nobody in the present government is thinking of closing the broken tap of waste. It is a shame
Capital expenditures that have no positive impact on the economy- Every Wednesday after each Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, a Minister comes forward to reel out the list and amount of monies approved to be expended on some projects, you wonder whether you are a Nigerian leaving on the moon. You hear of projects like rail lines gulping billions of dollars yet you don’t see progress, dredging the River Niger and Benue, yet you don’t see any sand coming out of the water, construction of roads and bridges. Good, if they are done and done well, however, you get confused when you are informed that billions of dollars are being spent on electricity that has been privatized and on water dams to provide water for irrigation and drinking yet we all spend our little salaries or lack of it to get petrol for our generators, drill boreholes in our houses, provide our own security, in fact design our own government. It is a big shame
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