Wednesday, October 12, 2016 4:10 pm
There is suffering in the land. The economy, permit the cliche, is on a tailspin! Since the role of the media is to generate ideas for good governance, we present a cover story in this edition that focuses on the difficulties that companies are facing , their domino effects and the agony of the common man.
That is why, apart from its cover story that shows the sufferings of the people and the problems industries are facing, TheNEWS interviewed Henry Boyo, Ayo Teriba, Ifeanyi Uddin, Odia Ofeimun and Tunde Babawale on what to do to fix the economy. These are clear thinkers and analysts. You cannot doubt their sense of patriotism. They are not ethnic jingoists. Their sustained arguments are robust and worth considering. There is no garbled regurgitation of economic theories here; no unexplained technicalities. These gentle men do not parade themselves as economic wizards but they know their onions. It is proof that hope is not lost yet. We can overcome the current economic recession if we get serious as a nation. We hope that the solutions they proffer would help governments at all levels and individuals get out of the woods.
Hard Times, Urgent Solutions
BY ADEMOLA ADEGBAMIGBE
It is usually the face- me-I- face you tenement where I- better- pass -my- neighbour smoke belching electricity generators whine away in high decibels and compete for space with kitchen cupboards, fowls and goats. Apartment rats here do not respect territorial integrity. Twitching their you-can -do- me nothing whiskers, they dart from room to room, wreaking havoc on cloths, carelessly dropped Naira notes, exposed loaves of bread, biscuits, uncovered amala and, most disastrously, toes of sleeping tenants. Cockroaches, the eternal paratroopers with brown jackets and nauseating exoskeletons, fly from one end to the other as if on war reconnaissance. Worse still, toilets and bathrooms are used on first come and first served basis. In such environment, short fuse is ever on display and trouble or mayhem is sparked at the drop of a hat.
To complete the stereotype, it is possible to know whose mother’s stew smells best or who uses the most delicious crayfish or locust beans or shrimp or periwinkles to temp many olfactory lobes. And so,on 21 September 2016, a man could not resist the aroma of his neighbour’s jollof rice at Ifite, Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State. Hunger was gnawing at his internal organs and playing rumber within him. He was in his own apartment when a woman, Mama Ebuka, was cooking jollof rice, its good smell wafting all over the compound, creating admiration or irritation or envy or a combination of the last two. Only God knows what spices she put, he thought as he peeped through the window with the leer of a professional thief.
The man lifted his nose in the air like a supercilious camel, his Adam’s apple making horizontal clicks as he sniffed the way a blood hound would, near the hole of a rabbit. Then he hatched a plan in his own delicate brain matter to the effect that Mama Ebuka would not eat that jollof rice alone! A neighbour, Mr. Emmanuel Okafor, narrated what happened to New Telegraph that when the woman finished cooking, she left the pot on the stove and went inside her apartment. But, according to Okafor, when Mama Ebuka came out to dish food for herself, she discovered that the pot had developed wings.
In Okafor’s words: “She started asking who took her pot of food but nobody owned up to it. But a young girl told those who had gathered that he saw the man take the pot into his room. When the girl said that, we all rushed with the owner of the food to the man’s room only to see the pot of rice half empty.” He added that the man, a bricklayer who usually works at construction sites, “confessed he stole the jollof rice because he was very hungry and “had not eaten for three days. The man knelt down and started pleading with Mama Ebuka to forgive him. Mama Ebuka, being a religious woman, forgave the man. She even told the man to tell her to give him food next time instead of stealing.”
A neighbour, flexing his muscles and tendons, offered to deal with the food thief, but the jollof rice owner, a religious woman with deep sense of piety, promised she would not invite the police. For this reason, according to the report, people, especially those living in multi-tenant houses in the state have devised new ways of protecting their pots of food. “They either lock the pot inside a small cage or padlock the pot itself with a cross bar until they are ready to eat.” Okafor also added: “I know the man very well. He is not a bad person but I think the situation in the country is pushing people into things they would not ordinarily do. I am certain the worst is yet to come.”
True, the economy of Nigeria has taken such a whack that many Nigerians have devised different ways of survival by fair or foul means.
Acknowledgement of the Economic Situation
President Muhammadu Buhari, on 1 October, Nigeria’s Independence Day, made a broadcast to the nation, admitting that indeed, the economy is on clutches. In his words: “I know that uppermost in your minds today is the economic crisis. The recession for many individuals and families is real. For some, it means not being able to pay school fees, for others it’s not being able to afford the high cost of food (rice and millet) or the high cost of local or international travel, and for many of our young people the recession means joblessness, sometimes after graduating from university or polytechnic.”
Also on 1 September 2016, Buhari was in Oshogbo as a guest of Governor Rauf Aregbesola to commission Oshogbo Government High School built by the State of Osun. He acknowledged: “We are quite aware of the pains and inconveniences that have been the lot of the citizenry in the past one year as we strive to faithfully implement our programmes in fulfilment of our Change Agenda. We are, however, comforted by the real change and progress we have made in fighting corruption and restoring integrity to government; providing security for lives and property; and positioning the government for effectiveness and especially deregulating the oil sector.’’ He reminded his listeners that his government promised Nigerian people positive and progressive change during the campaigns, resolving that he and his team would not and shall not be deterred from that noble undertaking.’’
“But as we have learnt from history, change has never been attained by any nation on a bed of roses, but rather, through patience, perseverance and steadfastness,” he said.
On September 1, 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, released a report on major economic fundamentals, like Gross Domestic Product, GDP; inflation, employment/ unemployment, capital importation, stating that Nigeria had slithered into recession. According to the Bureau, Nigeria’s GDP at constant basic prices, contracted in the second quarter 2016 (Q2’16) by 2.06 per cent after a negative growth of 0.36 in the first quarter. It said the non-oil sector suffered a downward spiral due to a badly battered Naira. Worse still, lower prices of crude negatively affected the oil sector. The Bureau added that inflation in the country increased to 17.1 per cent in July, because of rising cost of power, fuel and other consumables. The ogre of joblessness went haywire as it increased to 13.3 per cent this year. Among the youths, unemployment was 24 per cent. Taken generally, national unemployment rate increased to 13.3 per cent, compared to 12.1 per cent in Q1 2016, 10.4 percent in Q4 2015 from 9.9 percent in Q3 2015 and from 8.2 percent in Q2 2015.
The NBS figures, according to a medium’s analysis, showed Nigeria attracted just $647.1 million of capital in the second quarter, a 76 per cent fall year-on-year and 9 per cent down from the first quarter. It went further: “Nigeria’s economy was last in recession, for less than a year, in 1991, NBS data shows. It also experienced a prolonged recession from 1982 until 1984. The naira remained at record low of N423 per dollar in the black market, as dollar shortages curb activity on the official inter-bank market where the currency was offered at rates as weak as 365.25 this month before gaining ground after Central Bank’s interventions. The oil sector, the NBS said, contracted by -17.5 per cent year-on-year, compared with -1.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2016. The non-oil sector contracted by -0.4 per cent year-on-year, compared with a contraction of -0.2 per cent recorded in the first quarter 2016. For the non-oil economy, manufacturing contracted by -3.4 per cent, compared with -7.0 per cent in the first quarter of 2016.”
These have seriously affected prices and, by extension, standard of living. As the country celebrated its 56th independence anniversary last week, some women in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) decried the continuous hike in the prices of food items in the market. Some of them, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja called on government at all levels to “introduce price regulatory system to protect the consumers from unwarranted price hike.” Mrs Agnes Itoro, a housewife, told the Agency that some traders were using the pretext of the economic recession to hike prices of food items on a daily basis and indiscriminately. In her words: “My husband gives me N10, 000 for the purchase of food items every month for four members of my house. But now even if he releases N15, 000 or even N20, 000, it will not be enough for the list of items I normally purchase. I normally use some of the remaining monies from the market to cater for my needs. Now, it is not even enough for the items we need at home monthly,’’ she said.