In the Christendom, challenges are more often than not seen as opportunities. The reason for the irony cannot be farfetched when seen from the fact that Christians are daily encouraged by the scriptural injunction in Romans chapter 8 verse 28 that says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Also, in the book of first Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 18, the Christians are also urged to give thanks in every situation. The scripture says “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” The inspiration and miraculous results that is often derived from the two scriptures when meditated upon and prayed with in faith, especially when in trouble, cannot be pooh-poohed; even by atheist as they have moral corollaries. Still in the same nexus, stories of biblical personalities and countries got enmeshed in the labyrinths of challenges but victoriously came out from them abound in the Holy Bible.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is not an exaggeration to say that the recession which Nigeria is today facing is not different from what some countries in the bible, and even in the contemporary world had passed through. In our contemporary world, countries like Ghana and South Africa are noted to have passed through challenges of different coloration. However, their stories are different and motivating today as they are countries to be reckoned with in the comity of nations.
Permit me to say that if Nigeria is literarily personified in this piece that it would cut a picture of a polygamous middle-aged man that would be 56 years old on October 1, 2016 that is in debt, and still incurring additional debts without having any feasible means of servicing the debt even if he has for more than twenty years worked in an oil company without having commensurate savings in his bank account. Worse still, he is finding it so difficult to feed his children as prices of staple foods like rice, garri and tomatoes have all gone beyond his reach. In the same vein, he cannot guaranty his children gainful employment in some small scale businesses he established during the period of oil boom when his salaries were paid to be paid to him with “easy come” bonuses. Despite the fact that the “small-small companies” he established when things were good cannot guaranty the gainful employment of his children, he is at the moment contemplating selling off some of the companies. But his children are presently kicking against the move as they are entertaining the fear that some of his reckless children from other wives would fritter the monies realized from the sales away. The foregoing isn’t an impressing picture of a man that is serious about the future of his children.
Against the backdrop of the foregoing hopeless graphic picture of a nation, it is expedient to opine in this piece that Nigeria has to get out from the current recession she is faced with.
I must confess that while gaining the inspiration that led to the expression of this view that I was unarguably obsessed with a spasmodic stream of thoughts that brought me to the realization of the fact that when anyone is sick that he would be referred to a doctor for medical care, and that when a car is faulty it would be taken to a mechanic for repair, and in the same vein when an organization is experiencing negative corporate image, a public relations expert is usually hired to apply communication techniques that can boost the image of such organization.
With the foregoing analysis, not a few Nigerians are expecting the economists, who are mostly working as lecturers, bankers, insurers, stockbrokers and managers in various organizations to put heads together and come out with a lasting solution to the economy that is fast sliding into a parlous state.
It is not an overstatement to say that everything that is needed to make the economy sound to the benefits of the people seems to be working. To put it clearly for a layman to understand, Nigeria is at work. The farmers are in the farms where they are either weeding the farms or sowing seeds or gathering harvested crops. In the same vein, the factory worker is operating the machines, feeding them with raw materials which are finally transformed into finished goods. With the foregoing view, it goes to say that the wheels of economic activity are whirling round towards salvaging Nigeria’s distressed economy.
It is germane to say at this juncture that since oil was discovered in Nigeria in 1956 at Oloibiri in the Niger Delta by Shell-BP that God’s intention was to make the country the world’s richest country. But alas! Since 1958 when its first oil field came on stream, and producing 5,100 barrels per day, the leaders that have held various positions that saw them managing the country’s oil exportation in the country may not be able to give an applauding account of their stewardships when called upon to do so at the moment
A friend of mine, Prof, as he is fondly called, recently said that if our leaders had prudentially managed the country’s wealth that the country would have by now been the richest country in the world. His postulation may look simple on the surface but what he said is never far from the truth. The country had seen money to the extent that a former president confessed that "Money is not Nigeria's problem, but how to spend it".
Before Oil was discovered in the country, the country’s economy mainstay unarguably lied in the exportation of cash crops that cut across palm kernel, cocoa, groundnut, rubber and other cash crops. Evidences abound on how Nigeria used money realized from the exportation of cash crops for the development of the country. Particularly of mention in this context is the Cocoa House in Ibadan and the resultant existence of the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research, NIFOR, in Benin City. The groundnut pyramids that collectively became the hallmark of agricultural prowess of the country in those cannot be omitted at this juncture.
Not only did Nigeria held sway in the area of agriculture, some few Nigerians had occupied high ranking positions while some are still holding such highly rated positions in some supranational organizations like World Bank, African Development Bank, Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS as well as the African Union, AU. At different political dispensations, the government had tapped into the opportunities presented by this development. A case in point in this context is the headhunting of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala under former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. Some few headhunting had occurred ostensibly to salvage the economy but the economy has clearly refused to stabilised. It is expedient to opine at this point that the economy had been on a steady decline for some decades even before former President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office. The truth is that the recessed stage which Nigeria’s economy has reached at the moment is what economists would call stagflation. It has come to the stage were inflation has persistently become high with attendant high unemployment and stagnant demand. At this stage, some homes are already sleeping without observing supper. The situation is so bad that children now wake up at midnight and start crying for food. It is so bad that in Insurance companies everybody is a marketer. In the media sector, Journalists and non-editorial workers work for several months without salaries.
As Nigerians are desperately looking for solutions that would save the country from further slide into worst recession, many Nigerians are looking forward to economists in the country. Their hope cannot be misconstrued as the country can pride itself of institutions of higher learning that have been churning out economists on yearly basis.
Considering the parlous state of the economy at the moment, many a layman, particularly this writer are of the view that economists are dilly-dallying to brace up to the challenge which the distressed economy has posed.
In fact, pondering over how Nigeria’s economy is seemingly defying all tested economic solutions that worked in other climes, one may be tempted to guess that Nigerian economists are yet to bring their collective expertise on the subject of economics to bear on the country’s parlous economy that is not showing any sign of recovery. It is not an exaggeration to say that economists that have what it takes to restart the economy again are not in the country. The fact is that most of them have been politicized that they now see the responsibility of reviving the economy as that of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress.
Permit me to say that the ignominious state which our economy is at the moment is not about which party anyone belongs but it is about patriotism. The country’s economy is literarily heading to the point of no return. Nigerians must at this point exercise patriotic restraint over primordial sentiments. Nigerians should recall that the kind of stagflation that made Ghanaians to migrate to Nigeria enmasse decades ago is what Nigeria is presently facing today; even though our economists at the corridors of power are shying away from the truth.
Some Nigerians are already at this point trying to blame the economists over the parlous state of the economy. Many economists who are supposed to offer good advise towards the revival of the economy are more often than not accusing the president of cluelessness and travelling often. To my view, this is not the time to point accusing finger.
Not only are members of the public blaming the economists for not being able to salvage Nigeria’s economy from its present parlous state, some senators in the National Assembly has started calling for the sack of the minister of finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, minister of budget and planning, Senator Udo Udoma and the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele on what they considered to be a case of inefficiency and square pegs in round holes.
Before we resort to blame game, it is expedient to say that the study of economics majorly focuses on man and his environment. As it is commonly known, all men are not rational beings. Men act under the existing social and legal institutions of the society in which they live. As rightly pointed out by Prof. Schumpeter, “Economic laws are much less stable than the laws of physical science, and they work out differently in different institutional conditions.” To further expatiate on this postulation, it goes to say that the behavior of the custom officer at our international borders and the ports, the sabotaging tendencies of the Niger Delta Militants, the tendencies for sellers of essential commodities like petrol to make or seek to make an excessive or unfair profit are all considered in determining how effective an economic policy would be.
Against the foregoing backdrop, the fact can be rightly deduced that the economic policies or laws that worked towards the revival of an ailing economy, say in Ghana or Malaysia, may not work in Nigeria as the three countries have their respective peculiarities. With this, it cannot be farfetched on why economists are wont to subject economic policies or laws to a condition called “Ceteris Paribus.” The jargon, Ceteris Paribus, is a latin word that translates to mean “All other things being equal.”
To my view, economic laws would never work in a country where elder statesmen, who are no doubt octogenarians, have been fingered to participate in the stealing of the monies that were meant to fight the dreaded Boko Haram insurgence in the country. Economic laws would not work in a country where first ladies that were never voted into any political office appears to be as rich as their husbands that were duly elected into executive political positions in the country. Economic laws can never work in a country that has its economy mainstay as Oil and Gas but the pipes which are literarily the blood streams of the refineries are frequently blown up by disgruntled militants. Economic laws can never work in a country where virtually its northern region have been held by the jugular by terrorists so much so that both investors and workers have refused to stay in that part of the country.
At the moment, news that revolved around the way out from the economic quagmire are no more difficult to find in the media. Groups that were reported to shown interest in proffering solutions to the parlous state of the economy include the Senate, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC. Similarly, individuals of different professional background are not left out in proffering solutions. It is against this backdrop that this writer is suggesting that the situation is an opportunity for the country to be promoted in the comity of nations. However, to maximize the opportunity which the ugly situation presents, it is expedient that Nigerians change their attitude whenever they are carrying out economic activities as it is crystal clear that economic principles and laws rely on good attitudinal atmosphere. It is for this reason that economics often speak on the effectiveness of economic laws from the perspective of ceteris paribus.
Finally, I am suggesting that those in government, particularly the lawmakers should find a way of cutting costs of running Governance. Political observers are of the view that the amount that goes into governance, particularly in terms of allowances and salaries, is colossal.
Despite the fact that many civil servants and other Nigerians are finding it extremely difficult to feed themselves, it was recently reported in the news that “The government has spent N150 billion yearly since 2011 to run the National Assembly. That will continue till 2016. Nigerian federal lawmakers will retain a controversial yearly budget of N150 billion for at least two more years according to the government’s spending outlay, in yet another indication the government is less bothered about curtailing a lavish habit that has angered many Nigerians, who have called for cuts.”
To my view, our lawmakers and other government officials should for the sake of steering Nigeria’s economy away from the path of recession make sacrifices that would save Nigerians from further hunger and hardships. If it is possible for legislation to be carried out on part-time basis, it should be considered, after all most of the law makers have personal businesses they can fall back to in order to maintain their ostentatious lifestyles. I believe when sacrifices are made, and the right economic laws or principles applied, that the economy would be better off than it was the last few months. They should see the recession as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner.
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