In the 1970s Jamaican reggae superstar, Jimmy Cliff sang a song with this title where he lamented the economic hardship evident in most parts of the world but particularly in his small oil consuming nation on account of the oil crisis caused by Arab embargo of most western economies which drove oil price over the roof. About 40 years later, the same title, again related to oil crisis, aptly describes the economic situation in Nigeria.
There is no other way to put it: There is suffering in Nigeria and by every indication hope for improvement is far fetched.
Everywhere you look suffering and hardship and poverty stare you in the face. The middle class is all but wiped out, making the country a society of the haves and the have not. Never in the history of this country has daily survival by Nigerians become an ordeal. No day passes without reports of one dastardly crime, violence and social malfeasance coming to public glare.
It has never been this bad in the country.
Insecurity across the country has reduced life to the Hobbesian state of nature, making life nasty, brutish and short. Ritualists on the prowl everywhere prey on hapless people for the short cut to wealth. Nowhere in the country is safe anymore. The economic decline of the country and corresponding plunge in the living standards of Nigerians is adequately reflected in the current economic indices of the country compared to what they were less than a decade ago.
In 2015 when this government came to power inflation was in single digit of 8.7 percent against the prevailing 15.7 percent, which may be the cumulative average in the past seven years of the regime at double digit. At inception, exchange rate of the naira was N198 to a dollar; today it is N480. Pump price of fuel in 2015 was N96 per litre against the present price of N162. Also fuel subsidy was N400 billion per annual compared to N1.3 trillion today for government that promised to end subsidy.
Unemployment, which was 14 percent in 2015 has reached a catastrophic level of 33 percent. Value Added Tax, VAT, rose from five percent to 7.5 percent with increases also in both excise and import duties. Everywhere you turn, it is a tale of hardship, suffering and poverty. Under this administration, Nigeria became the poverty capital of the world with 92 million of the 200 million population living below poverty line.
Many parents can hardly sent their children to schools of their choice, and many living in comfortable accommodations have had to scale down to more affordable ones.
It is a tale of woes for Nigerians, but, for the politicians it is business as usual. They spare little thought for the people they represent and who supposedly elected them to take care of the problems. While the government in power is straining at the gnat to justify its appalling performance, the main opposition is angling to take over power without any idea about the problems and how to mend the economy
Indeed, it is partly responsible for the calamity that befell the country with the coming of this government, because its corrupt and ineffective leadership created the stage for its defeat and downfall.
It is a hopeless situation for the people as there is no respite in sight given that government intends to still raise fuel price and electricity tariff in future by removing subsidies on them. It is unlikely that inflation will ever come to single digit under this government, which means most Nigerians will continue to spend a large proportion of their earnings on food and other house hold items just to survive. There is a big lesson in the current fate Nigerians face in the choice of leaders.
This newspaper is of the view that voting for party or person should not be an emotional decision based on media hysteria and herd mentality, which was the case with this government without proper interrogation of its past records and current capacity. Its’ disappointing performance is evident of the fact that virtually all those who back it and pushed for it have since deserted it. As another election approaches there is considerable concern of repeating the same old mistake of voting without questioning.
Nigerians must focus on the individuals that parties put forward and avoid just accepting whoever the parties present. Parties win elections but individuals run the government. So there is need to pay attention to individuals because after the election comes governance, which is what affects people’s lives.
Nigeria must shun career politicians in the next elections and vote people with knowledge of the economy and development to run the government, because the rot in the country is deep and there is no time to waste learning on the job.