How did we move from being Africa’s largest economy in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and the 3rd world fastest growing economy to now the poverty capital of the world?
President Buhari, first ruled Nigeria as a military Head of State during which time the country saw hell because as a military officer he made some mistakes for which he was judged. But with providence giving him a second chance, with being elected as a civilian president, Buhari rather than use the opportunity to redeem himself, continues to show contempt for constitutionalism, law of economics and the rule of law. The question on many lips is whether Nigeria will survive his re-election?
There is nothing currently happening today that was not prior foretold. When caught by the spirit of writing, writers are like prophets who saw tomorrow because they write to connect with the reader on a level deeper than just conveying information. Prior to 2015 we screamed, shouted and admonished but it all came to nothing because like the people of old, Nigerians didn’t listened, neither did they heed the warnings. Like the proverbial stubborn fly that followed the corpse down into the grave, Nigerians stubbornly voted for false promises.
If only they listened, we wouldn’t be in this situation where people are literally eating from the garbage bin like they did in 1984. Yes, you read me well; normal people are now scavenging garbage bins and eating whatever they could find inside. I saw this first hand this last Saturday as I jogged down the street in my neighborhood. I saw a woman with her two children going through a garbage bin and feeding from it and I was horrified.
How did we move from being Africa’s largest economy in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and the 3rd world fastest growing economy to now the poverty capital of the world in less than three years with over 80 million people living below poverty level with no hope of migrating from poverty. How did we move from a debt free nation to another debt overhang of over N23 trillion?
The economic indices inherited by the administration took a turn for the very worse without an exception in just three years, ranging from fuel pump price which hovered around N70 per liter which has now jumped to N145, under Buhari the foreign exchange which was around N150 per one US dollar in 2014 jumped to N366 per dollar, prices of staple foods like rice which was N8000 per 50kg in 2014 is now N22,000. In three years unemployment grew worse from 6 million unemployed graduates to now about 18 million, inflation grew from 0.49 in 2008 to an all time high of 19.28% in 2018, insecurity has grown worse driving away direct foreign investment; even corruption which was one of the cardinal project of the regime has assumed new dimension as monkeys and snakes swallow millions and you can go on and on. Worse is the sad reality that, there are no coherent policies in place to turn things around.
Shall we continue to blame a president we knew lacked the capacity and competence to drive the economic engine of a complex country like Nigeria when we enthusiastically elected him president? We the people must share in the blame and this include all members of the previous regime that contributed in no small measure in frustrating the people, thereby driving them to President Buhari as their only available alternative.
Venezuelans are living through one of the worst hyperinflation episodes ever recorded since the end of World War Two. Like Nigeria, Venezuela is an oil producing nation. In fact in 2008 Venezuela’s oil production was the tenth highest in the world.
READ ALSO: The lesson from Venezuela
Prices have hit a new high in August, peaking at 65,000%. Under President Nicolas Maduro, inflation stands at around 150% a month – hyperinflation is defined as when inflation rates are greater than 50% per month and persist for more than 30 consecutive days.
Venezuela entered the World Hyperinflation Table in November 2016 when prices were rising by 219% a month and doubling every 18 days.
The situation has since worsened and amidst severe shortages of food and medicine, citizens are now forced to pay for everyday basics with stacks of cash.
Venezuela didn’t just collapse overnight, years of corruption, erroneous or ineffective economic policies, administrative disorder, exacerbated populism, lack of medium and long-term economic plans; In addition, repetition of the same mistakes in a vicious circle have made the economy of a country, with much potential, like Venezuela fail despite having the best income it could ever have.
I tried to play down my son’s anxiety about the future of Nigeria by telling him that the president has good intentions for Nigeria and how he is a courageous leader who inherited a very corrupt system and not too robust economy, but he shot back that that inheriting bad economy is no excuse as a good leader with good policies can turn the economy around and not worsen an already bad situation. He sighted how Donald Trump inherited a bad economy and despite his controversies had been able to ramp up the economy and brought unemployment down to 3.5%. A good leader with sense of purpose he insisted can reverse the misfortune of the nation from a bad economy to a robust economy.
He explained that Venezuela got to where they are no thanks to Hugo Chavez who rather than respect the law of economics decided to pursue populist policies like increasing workers salaries and dashing money to those he considered poor people. He forgot that you don’t make the poor to become rich simply by taking from the rich and given to the poor.
The Venezuela experience compares to the current policy of our government where money that could have been invested in education, infrastructure and health care are said to be given to the poor and for the feeding of school children. Meanwhile, the government is cup in hands begging for the same amount in loans from China and Europe.
Of course, there is a fundamental level of incompetence in this administration which makes the possibility of re-election of our current crop of leaders a scary prospect.
READ ALSO: Result of incompetence