I can’t remember the last time I was inspired to write an article…But I felt the need this moment because I have been in thinking mode for the last week few weeks. You know the type of thinking that is like endless brainstorming. Just trying to find a solution to the never ending problems created by the current economic hardship in Nigeria.
I guess it does not help that this government keeps talking us deeper into recession by constantly mentioning mind boggling figures that were looted by previous administrations.
How I wish that this energy could be converted to creating a robust stimulus package.
I was raised and professionally trained to identify challenges and immediately create solutions.
So I usually don’t have the luxury of identifying who caused it, that is the smallest of issues.
In environments where I worked, problems had to be solved even before they occur because zero downtime is our motto. So we had a very robust contingency plan.
After months of denial and blame game, it looks like the Nigerian economy has finally hit the recession iceberg.
The country is witnessing some of the most gruelling economic situations according to many people older than my 46 years.
That is indeed worrying as I recall a friend telling me a few months ago that some older friend of his said to him: “the way I’m looking at this matter, we will end up referring to these hard times as the good old days”. He was right. Back then the dollar was only N340. Today it is more like N430.
From what I hear it is likely that the dollar will hit around the N700 mark.
That would be totally disastrous.
I have been thoroughly entertained by all the survival tips articles and the suggestion that perhaps this is a time to be more prudent and that recession is actually an opportunity for wise people.
Is that a joke?
Considering that almost 70% of Nigerians already are living on less than a dollar a day?
Now consider this…they were living on a dollar a day before the recession. Today that dollar is more like 30 cents..
I am sure I spend at least a dollar every hour of everyday and even I am cutting back on expenses because the income is just not there. I myself have reached a point where I am clutching for straws. I see the possibilities, but I just can’t find the means.
So when I see an article where someone advises me not to eat out that often, I say well I only eat out once every 6 months.
If they say don’t do the full DSTV plan..well I don’t and have not done so for more than a year. In fact most months in the last few years I don’t even subscribe.
If they say cut down on clothes and shoes…already done that year’s ago…next..
Use Uber instead of driving..well actually I’ve not had a car in like 8 years.
Buy food in bulk…I don’t have enough cash to buy in bulk and worried about wastage if power fails.
Eat healthy…salads cost more than cassava..or yam
Use Gens sparingly..years ago, I could not shut my eyes without the coolness of the air conditioner so my gens were on 24-7 especially at night. My estate people used to call me Oyinbo behind my back..the one that can’t sleep without light…Even when it was suggested that I buy an ‘I betta pass my neighbour’ gen…I scoffed at the idea..today it is by far my favourite gen and I have had one for at least 6 years. I can’t count the number of nights that I have slept in pitch darkness.
What I am saying is that I did not need a recession to cut back on spending.
I am not alone..
To be honest, many families had already cut back even when PDP was in government, because the economy had slowed down. In fact the “Nigeria is broke rumour first started in 2012, a year after GEJ was sworn in…and resurfaced in 2013 and 2014.
It did not need a genius to tell us that our nations income was dwindling…airlines and banks were bailed out, many big businesses got their debt transferred to AMCON…for a reason…it was to stimulate economic growth and keep them alive.
The APC had done an excellent job of bad mouthing our country and economy long before they came into power. They had laughed at the fastest growing economy status of Nigeria, claimed that the PDP government were just bandying fake figures..they had publicized that $20bn dollars was stolen from NNPC…they had promoted the insecurity in the North East proudly, in fact to the point of being labelled as Boko haram sympathizers..not done there they had threatened to make the country ungovernable if they did not win the elections in 2015.
I can only liken this to a man who is desperate to marry a woman, goes around town spreading malicious lies about her in order to dissuade other men from marrying her. He is so tenacious that he does this to a point where no man or woman in the community will greet her. He finally gets his wish and she marries him. He sets out to do a lavish wedding and he is shocked that on the day, no one turns up. Then he notices that no one speaks to him in the community because of his association with her.
By the time Buhari was declared winner of the 2015 presidential elections there was a lot of hope rekindled…and then he was sworn in, people were excited about the prospects..especially after a well choreographed inauguration speech.
People normally are cautious when a new government comes into office. This is so because most new governments tend to change policies of their predecessors. So most business people sit and wait it out.
Then he started fumbling..making careless undiplomatic remarks all over the world..abandoning his duty post to globe trot.
After 15 months of steady rapid decline Nigeria has landed deep in the recession pit.
At the beginning of this Buhari administration, the first thing I complained about was a lack of an economic plan. I said then that the country is like a very sick patient who is transferred from one medical facility to another….the case file is vital so as to establish which treatment regime achieved stability for the patient..The plan is usually to keep the patient stable before experimenting with your own treatment regime…at all costs, one must prevent that patient from going into a coma because at that stage it becomes a 50-50 shot at recovery.
The second thing I complained about was the demarketing (my people are useless, my people are senseless..my people are indisciplined) while Buhari was junketing. I said it would send the wrong signals to foreign investors and would cause them to frown at the Nigerian market totally.
Another issue I complained about was a lack of an economic team and especially a clear road map to economic recovery.
Well I guess looking at where we are today, it is safe to say that many of us who were worried at that time were right to be after all.
I am pessimistic about our chances of stemming this tide…because it definitely feels like the government is just sitting there waiting for a miracle.
There is one word that is usually synonymous with recession..and I have not heard this government use it even once…that word is STIMULUS.
Babasola Kuti a politician and member of the PDP writes from recession ridden Nigeria