Its official, we are currently in a recession. Some weeks ago, the Minister of Finance confirmed this, while a few days back the National Bureau of Statistics also reaffirmed this.
Thanks to the drastic fall in oil prices, the state of the economy has steadily been declining, enabling a widespread decline in the GDP, in employment and in trade in the past year.
Similarly, the current exchange rate isn’t helping matters as prices of everything has skyrocketed due to the astronomical increase of the naira to the dollar and since we are an unabashedly import-reliant country. Evidently, we are suffering from decades of over-dependence on petrol dollars.
Be that as it may, the present government isn’t doing enough to tackle the quandary we have suddenly found ourselves in. To be fair to the administration, it is not the cause (at least not wholly) of the current predicament we are in. Past administrations failure to diversify the economy, provide infrastructural havens that can stand the test of time from proceeds gotten when oil prices were soaring high and a continual failure to effectively harness our potentials, are culprits of why we are where we are right now.
Noteworthy though, these are just some impediments that have contributed to the current dismal nature of the economy. The usual suspects of corruption, mismanagement, mediocrity and purposeless leaderships over the years also top the list. Having said this, one is tempted to feel sorry for the current administration for inheriting such a calamitous situation. For a fact though, anyone who won the 2015 election would have inherited the state of the present economy due to the fall in oil prices since we operate a mono-dependent economy.
The same scenario we are currently experiencing here is also playing out in some likewise oil-dependent climes such as Venezuela. However, when facing such dire situations, a “prodigious leader” is often born. The likes of Abraham Lincoln, who led the US through its civil war, preserved the “union”, abolished slavery, strengthened the US federal government and modernized the economy, exhibited exceptional leadership during trying times. John F. Kennedy showed resilience and doggedness during the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962 which almost escalated into a full-scale nuclear war. That’s just to name a few.
The present administration wouldn’t be doing itself justice if it keeps on down-playing the problem on ground and playing the blame game. Yes, many discerning Nigerians know that the economy was worsening before the present administration came on board, but that is the burden of leadership. Great leaders are made, not born. They are made via hard effort which is the price they have to pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile. Being a great leader takes practice; become a better listener, accept criticism and critical feedback in a constructive way and needs to know how best to display empathy, patience and decisiveness.
In our current predicament, we need a leader capable of ingenuity. We need a leader capable of the power of creative imagination that can transform it into reality. We need a leader capable of thinking out of the box and rising above mediocrity. We need a leader who will surround himself with creative thinkers and proffer short, medium and long term solutions to the hardships we are currently facing as a people. The deed has already been done and enough of the lip-service, we are yearning to see actions that would turn our current predicament around and for the better.
The opposition in the form of the former ruling party, typical of politicians, has begun vociferously playing the blame game. They have begun reveling in the spot light in their new found voice, forgetting that they had 16-democratic years to turn the tables around and put us on the road to greatness. Nevertheless, for democracy to thrive an organized opposition needs to put the government on its toes. They have to make the government feel the heat of being on the hot seat. They have to regularly criticize constructively some policies of the government they feel are anti-people. At the end however, the power ultimately lies in our hands in the form of our voter cards.
Currently, the onus now lies on Mr. President and his lieutenants. He has been gunning for the presidency since 2002 and got the opportunity to lead last year. Putting all the square pegs in square holes instead of the erstwhile forcing of square pegs in round holes should be his primary preoccupation. The actions he takes now especially concerning the speedy revival of the economy and many other ills plaguing our country could make or mar his presidency or re-election bid (if indeed he is thinking of contesting in 2019). Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity? Only time (which is fast running out) will tell.
You can follow me on Twitter via @Abdul_Jubril
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