The Nigerian people have never had it so bad in the history of the country as an Independent Nation. The poverty scourge of monumental proportion is prevalent and wide spread which could be felt and smelt in all the Strata of society. The so-called middle class has completely been decimated. Only a few affluent and privileged class or those commonly referred to as high and mighty in society representing only a negligible percentage of the population seem to have been spared by the scourge of endemic poverty pervading the nation no thanks to their massive wealth often acquired through illegitimate means over the years at the expense of the impoverished masses of the country.
The present Federal Government seem totally incapable of proffering urgent solution to the myriad of economic cum political challenges currently confronting the nation. All that one continues to hear from the corridors of power is that hapless Nigerians should continue to exercise patience as if patience or endurance in itself is elastic or limitless without any sign of concrete and realistic measures being adopted by the authorities to ameliorate the suffocating poverty in the land.
The so-called change mantra or sing song which the APC as a political party orchestrated as political gimmick in order to acquire power is fast becoming a ruse or simply put an illusion as the APC Federal Government after one year into its administration, has not been able to alleviate the unimaginable sufferings of the Nigerian masses on whose popular mandate it came into power at the Federal level. President Buhari’s Government appears to be seriously lacking in clear-cut goals and economic blue prints for the country hence, the frequent discordant tunes coming out from his economic experts and advisers on how best to manage the nation’s battered economy which has recently moved into full blown recession according to the just released report of the National Bureau of Statistics.
The time has therefore come for all well meaning Nigerians, irrespective of their social standing or political persuasions to rise up to the occasion and speak out against the current catastrophic economic situation which is fast driving our dear nation to inevitable abyss. Urgent and decisive action must therefore be taken by all and sundry to avert the looming economic debacle in the over all interest of the nation.
This writer is of the candid opinion therefore, that an emergency meeting of the Council of States and other major stake holders in the Nigerian project be summoned as a matter of utmost urgency to deliberate on the current very grave situation in the country with a view to proffering urgent solutions to the socio-economic and political quagmire facing our beloved nation.
The first action to be taken by the proposed August Assembly is to quickly re-organize the economic team or experts that are currently driving the nation’s economy by injecting fresh blood and ideas into the economic agenda of the government which has so far proved to be an unmitigated disaster. The nation could easily boast of abundant economic experts or gurus who are well versed in financial matters or know how with long experiences and exposures in international financial institutions around the globe and who could easily be mobilized to quickly turn around the economic fortunes of the country.
Furthermore, it has been proven time and time again that examples are far more better than precepts. And it is in the light of the above expositions that our leaders at all levels of governance are hereby called upon to take the lead in exhibiting a low profile life style both in their private and official conduct and by also displaying honest example in order to convince the people that their leaders are indeed mindful of the severe economic tribulations the masses are presently facing in their daily lives.
It has become imperative therefore, that the outrageous personal emoluments enjoyed by the public office holders in the country beginning with the President of the nation, the State Governors, National and State Houses of Assembly, Ministers down to the State Commissioners and other political functionaries must be reduced by at least 50% if the nation must overcome her present economic predicament.
Another area of grave concern to the Nigerian public which must be tackled head on is the issue of financial wastages and recklessness in governance as well as the opulent and arrogant display of power by public office holders who often move around in convoys of up to twenty official vehicles as well as the reckless blaring of siriens on our ill maintained roads which more often than not tend to drive the poor masses into the bush to avoid being crushed by these vehicles always on breakneck speed.
This state of affairs obviously portends great danger in society as the impovrished masses who are daily battling for their personal survival always watch with utter disgust and consternation the arrogant display of power and opulence by their elected officials whose primary responsibility is to provide succour to their seemingly hopeless economic situation.
Should the authorities concerned decide today to take concrete measures by curtailing the financial wastages including drastic reduction in the number of political office holders and hangers on in governance, the quantum of savings derivable from the process would be adequately deployed for the services of the people who are presently undergoing terrible and excruciating economic hardship in the country.
The immediate fall out of the current economic recession in the country is the fate of the national currency the Naira, which has systematically depreciated to its all time low ever with the current exchange rate at the parallel market otherwise known as the black market as the Naira now sells for more than N400.00 (four hundred Naira) to the US dollar, while the Naira also goes for more than N500.00 (five hundred Naira) to the British pound sterling. The attendant consequences of this economic catastrophe is that the prices of basic commodities in our local markets are completely beyond the reach of the hapless masses in the country.
To further compound the rather ugly situation is the recent report that the giant automobile company, the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company (IVM) has suddenly been shut down and hundreds of its work force were sent packing due to the shortage of foreign exchange (Dollars) with which the Company normally procures its component parts (CKD) for the vehicle manufacturing industry. Similar cases as that of Innoson Industry abound in the country with the negative consequences for the nation’s economy.
It is highly regrettable and the height of insensitivity on the part of the Federal Government that all these sad developments are happening at such a critical period in the nation’s history when the government ought to be doing everything possible within its powers to encourage and protect the local industries for optimum productivity and economic growth. In this era of economic recession and unimaginable level of poverty in society, thousands of workers in the employment of the recently shut down industries were unceremoniously thrown into the pool of labour market and thereby further worsening the economic situation in the country. Through its act of omission or commission, the Federal government inadvertently seem to be planting a time bomb which might explode at any moment if urgent and decesive action is not taken by the authorities to stem the dangerous tide.
In conclusion, the present dire economic situation in the country certainly calls for urgent and decisive action by the government in order to ameliorate the abject poverty and disease of unimaginable proportion now afflicting the poor masses who are presently dying in silence in the midst of plenty in their own country.
Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP) is a regular Public Affairs Commentator and Analyst. He wrote from Enugwu-Ukwu,
5th September, 2016.