By Ibironke Oluwatomiwa
the pitiful state of the Nigerian economy would get a redress when we begin to point fingers. If we continue to spare the culprit because he is our kin, that kin of ours will bring us to ruin. The ailing state of the economy is a result of an array of adverse factors working together. Therefore, to blame the plague of high inflation, weakening of the currency and paucity of investors on President Muhammadu Buhari is libelous. The wrongdoers are millions of Nigerians, which include the incompetent government of the past and the passive citizens.
When an economy is supposed to be mixed with tolerance for capitalism and socialism, but obviates one, there would be a problem. Nigerian governments in the past have sold core sectors in the country to private hands with profit making motive. For instance, the petroleum sector which is the engine room of the economy is partially privatized.
This has made it difficult for the government to manage activities in the sector, as the marketers and distributors have proven to be uncooperative. The oil sector has since managed a cancer, one that is similar to the tumour in other sectors of the economy, including the electricity and educational sectors. The scene in the communication sector is most ugly; a foreign company has been fed so much that it is almost voicing back at the host government. This is never a good indication.
Evidently, Nigeria has been unlucky with its experience with governance. It has been a case of Egyptian service in the land of milk and honey. Corruption is glued to Nigeria as the last name is, to the first name of an individual. A country that was said to be ‘so rich’, has become a beggar who calls his visit a stopover. This is largely due to the mismanagement of funds that has characterized government in Nigeria.
The fall in oil price should not be blamed for drying up Nigeria’s purse, rather, profligacy dried up Nigeria’s purse. For an enterprise that made humongous profit from the exportation of crude oil, the fall in oil price should not have such a spontaneous impact on our economy.
Economics in Nigeria is not the only problem, politics is another big one. When a principled government decides to probe looters, it is seen as a partisan exercise in Nigeria. An opposition party which is supposed to give an outsider’s view to an incumbent government would lament the probe of its reckless members.
An ideal opposition party should bird-dog the running government from its outside position, like an audience in a game. Such party would get game changing revelations that are privy to the players. Opposition parties should look out for untapped areas which would benefit the country, then make recommendations to the government, not paw the grounds with a siege mentality. Here are two questions for the erstwhile ruling party; they are allowed to answer either of the two. First question, is it beguiling to say that PDP members are major perpetrators in the act of ruining Nigeria? Second question, is the continuous criticism of the present government a ploy to avoid answering the first question? Answers to these questions would point the first finger.
The other finger is pointed at the insidious agent in ruining the economy of Nigeria, the citizens. We prefer anything that was flown-in, either good or service. Even when our purse flinches to the price of these imported things, we go ahead to borrow. We continue purchasing the Guccis, Pradas, forgetting that this course subtly shifts the balance in favour of foreign economies at the expense of ours. The shrinking economy has not chided us from profligate burial ceremonies, needless talk about the extravagant celebration of the living. Common sense tells us how to cut down expenses in government, but forgets to mention avoidable birthday celebrations in this troubled time?
The situation is bad, times are hard but what have we done as individuals? We gather our kith and kin to indulge in side talks, while our funds are being mismanaged and our resources depleted. If we are so good at running commentary, why is Nigeria Premier League still lacking euphonious commentary? Our rumouring skill is suitable for Nigerian Premier League matches, as citizens we need to be active. A lot of information circulates in the rumour mill about illicit transactions and extortionate moves but we prefer to take the back seats in taking actions to save the dying economy, how sad. Providence has blessed us with oil, to fill the purse of our government and make life enjoyable for the masses. If we never had oil and our government solely depends on taxes to raise revenue, would we remain passive citizens when they embezzle our sweated-out money?
Now, the economy is heading towards recession, the government and its citizens are in a common desultory circumstance. Yet, the Nigerian populace and leaders frustrate each other’s efforts, like a tug-of-war between equally matched parties. It is only a matter of time before the rope breaks.
The point arrives at home when we understand that both the government and the citizens have played parts in crippling the Nigerian economy. At this point, both parties need to align resources to treat this self-inflicted pain. Until then, we will keep pointing fingers.
• Oluwatomiwa writes via [email protected]