Ishowo Malik Ayomide
Since my sojourn in this world, it is noticed that the economic structure in Nigeria has always been a major source of concern for all Nigerians. However, one of the obvious reasons Nigeria itself is a fragile nation is apparently due to the kind of leadership we have been wilfully producing since 1999, which has plunged Nigeria in gloomy economic waters. Since then, no economic situation has really and expectantly benefitted us. It was only fair during the Obasanjo-led democratic government, and nothing significantly has happened since it wobbled in its alleged third-term ploy while matters tend to be getting well beyond crisis under the current post-Buhari widely heralded but now unpredictable government.
Perhaps, no other economic system could make a government lose credibility within a twinkle of an eye other than the seamless but unforced human challenges we are made to go through viz economy, security, health, education and soaring food crisis, which all rear their ugly heads since the advent of the Buhari administration, but are getting far worse since the inauguration of this “renewed hope” government.
Viewed diligently, Nigeria’s economy is not as devastating as some vulnerable states we all know in Africa. But must we compare our nation, given its vast human potentials and material resources, with Angola, Gambia, Benin Republic, Togo, Niger, Chad and Sudan? It is regrettable that Nigeria, steeped in insecurity, troubled by bad leadership, religious rivalry and ethnic suspicion, has been unable to discharge its leadership role on the continent.
Indeed, Nigeria as a nation with a fragile economy within the African space should have been developed far and above her peers in Africa, unfortunately no meaningful dividends have been cited in our tortuous democratic journey since 1999. It is sad that every department of government was dogged by serious basic infrastructural challenges, especially since the end of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s two-term administration which ensured outright cancellation of the nation’s humongous debt.
Pathetically, the last Buhari-led administration did not only plunge Nigeria into the pit of reckless indebtedness but also cluelessly printed trillions of Naira, just like the famous late Idi Amin of Uganda. The worst economic suicide in the history of Nigeria was recorded under the immediate past government with the introduction of a vindictive and wicked cashless policy. It is equally disturbing that this new government has continued to make a bad economic case scenario even worse by piling up more debts against the future of the unborn generation(s).
It is doubtful if any democratic administration has fared better in Nigeria. Though President Obasanjo brought a tremendous energy and experience into governance but he could have done better if he had been a little more patriotic and mindful of history. His preferred successor, the late President Umar Yar’Adua who came to power in 2007, imbued with a good sense of patriotism could have outperformed his political godfather were it not for his health challenge which eventually culminated in his painful death thus yielding power to an obviously ill-prepared deputy. A less charismatic President Jonathan who rose to power in 2010 dramatically succeeded in building a strong economy. His apparent weaknesses were emasculated by the sterling performance of his excellent team.
President Buhari who came to power on the strength of propaganda and disinformation in 2015 reversed the steady gains recorded by his predecessor and here we are. There is no doubt that the new leader, President Bola Tinubu, who has only spent just a few months inherited an incredibly disastrous economy from the former leader but the fact that he too was not adequately prepared for power has complicated the woes of an already depressed economy. Today, life has become unbearable for many families as an expectantly more visionary government continues to pretend ignorance of the extreme human sufferings under its watch.
The future of the Nigerian youth is scary under a perilous economic climate. More funds are being allocated to luxuries while more students are bound to “japa” after being frustrated out of school. No thanks to the education loan still in the incubator (or pipeline) while public and private tertiary institutions continue to hike school fees, citing unplanned oil subsidy removal as a major cause. Already there is unprecedented astronomical rise in the cost of virtually all items, especially food. Ours undoubtedly is now a hungry nation.
If our hopes are ever to be renewed, the time is already here. We do not have to wait for more to fall into depression, convulse in avoidable illnesses or be sentenced to an untimely death before help will come. Our leaders do not have to make today extremely and exclusively unbearable for the masses (only) to make a better tomorrow. How can our leaders pretend ignorance of the grim reality of our times where the employed have become working poor and the jobless wallow in utter hopelessness? The time for the “change” is now. The social cum economic miracle has to happen. The time to curb impunity, trending sharp practices, infrastructural challenges, insecurity, escalating crimes and poverty of leadership is now.
The above challenges are not unresolvable. To address the issues, Nigeria only needs to: create very strong and robust institutions through responsible governance, implement its own laws, introduce people-friendly policies that could address widespread poverty, entrench trust, transparency, competence, and discipline in the public space; create a business and market-friendly environment that will ease the prevailing economic crisis. The government also needs to build a team of intelligent men and women that are capable of pulling Nigeria out of its economic fragility and agonising socio-political mystery.
Ishowo Malik Ayomide
Ishowo is a Student || Learner || Political and Media Enthusiast || Writers