• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Why are Nigerians so displeased with the economy?

“Happiness is free,” the adage goes. However, this piece of conventional wisdom seems increasingly out of step with the widespread dissatisfaction among Nigerians regarding their economic situation. Despite being well into the second quarter of the year, there is still no clear direction for the economy.

A recent survey conducted by BusinessDay in several major markets in Lagos and parts of Ogun State, which borders Lagos, reveals a grim reality. Both market sellers and buyers express growing frustration as the cost of basic necessities continues to skyrocket.

The escalating prices have made it increasingly difficult for people to afford even the essentials, leaving many feeling vulnerable and extremely angry. This pervasive sense of hopelessness is exacerbated by the hardships of the past year, which have shown no signs of abating.

Market vendors, once hopeful for a bustling trade, now face dwindling sales as customers can no longer stretch their meagre incomes to cover the rising costs. Shoppers, on the other hand, find themselves constantly grappling with the harsh reality of having to choose between feeding their families and paying for other essential needs.

“Despite being well into the second quarter of the year, there is still no clear direction for the economy.”

The despair is palpable, with many expressing a deep-seated fear for the future. The economic stagnation, coupled with increasing living costs, has left a once-resilient populace struggling to maintain their livelihoods and their spirits.

This sense of economic desperation is not confined to the markets alone. It ripples through communities, affecting every aspect of daily life. From rising unemployment rates to the soaring cost of transportation and healthcare, Nigerians are grappling with a multifaceted crisis that extends far beyond the marketplace.

Read also: Nigeria’s Economy: Past challenges, present realities, and future prospects

The government’s lack of a clear economic strategy only fuels the uncertainty and anxiety felt by millions.

A commentator remarked that the president does not need an economic team with sugar-coated words that hide the truth. Instead, the president needs a team that will honestly convey the reality of the situation without lying.

A commentator recently argued that what the president needs is not an economic team with sugar-coated words and hidden truths. Instead, he needs a team that will present the unvarnished reality of the nation’s economic situation. This team should have the courage to speak frankly and offer genuine solutions, rather than masking the harsh truths with comforting lies.

The commentator emphasised that honest, straightforward communication is crucial in these challenging times. An economic team that obscures the reality of the situation does a disservice to the president and the country. What is needed are experts who can accurately diagnose the problems, provide realistic assessments, and suggest actionable strategies for improvement.

The current economic turmoil demands transparency and accountability. Nigeria’s leaders must confront the stark realities of rising inflation, unemployment, and the cost of living. A team that hides behind euphemisms and half-truths will only exacerbate the crisis. On the other hand, a team that is forthright and proactive can help steer the country towards recovery and growth.

Mr President, Nigerians are currently hungry and deeply dissatisfied with your administration’s handling of the economy. Your actions have pushed over 130 million people into poverty, with the situation continuing to deteriorate as inflation rises for the 16th consecutive month, reaching 33.69 percent in April 2024.

Furthermore, the food inflation rate has soared to 40.53 percent year-on-year, a staggering increase of 15.92 percentage points from the 24.61 percent recorded in April 2023, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

This relentless surge in inflation has made basic necessities unaffordable for many Nigerians. The average family struggles to put food on the table, and the cost of living has become untenable. The soaring prices are eroding the purchasing power of the populace, exacerbating the already dire levels of poverty and hardship.

Nigerians are not just facing economic challenges; they are grappling with a crisis of confidence in the government’s ability to manage the economy effectively. The lack of clear and decisive economic policies has left many feeling abandoned and hopeless.

Read also: Rice, garri, tomatoes prices rise 141% in one year – NBS

Businesses are closing at an alarming rate, a trend highlighted by BusinessDay. This economic turmoil has driven even major corporations to seek more stable environments elsewhere.

Amidst the closure of local companies, several foreign operators exited Africa’s fourth-largest economies last year, including GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria, Equinor, Sanofi, Bolt Food, and Procter & Gamble.

Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of TotalEnergies, remarked, “We have countries that have perfectly integrated policies like Angola. So, we went to Angola and announced a very large $6 billion project because their framework is stable.” This starkly contrasts with the current situation in Nigeria, where economic instability and policy uncertainty deter similar investments.

Unemployment is another critical issue, with the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showing a rise to 5 percent. This figure, however, only scratches the surface of the problem, as underemployment and informal sector struggles paint an even grimmer picture. The inability to secure stable employment is pushing more Nigerians into poverty and exacerbating the already dire economic conditions.

Read also: Fuel scarcity, food inflation, power failures deepen Nigerian’s pains as motorists sleep at filling stations

World Economics has developed an inequality index that references the Gini coefficient from various sources and creates an index for country comparison purposes. A Gini coefficient of 55.1 indicates that the wealth gap between the rich and the poor is widening at an alarming rate, creating a socio-economic chasm that threatens the fabric of Nigerian society.

While a small elite continues to amass wealth, the majority are plunged into deeper economic despair. This disparity not only undermines social cohesion but also stifles economic growth, as the majority of the population lacks the financial means to contribute meaningfully to the economy.

The situation demands immediate and robust action. It is imperative that your administration tackle these issues head-on with transparency and accountability. There must be a concerted effort to stabilise the economy, curb inflation, and implement policies that promote sustainable growth and development. It is also crucial to provide direct support to the most vulnerable segments of society to alleviate their suffering and restore some measure of hope and stability.

Mr President, the urgency of this crisis cannot be overstated. The time for rhetoric has passed; what is needed now is decisive action and tangible results. The Nigerian people are looking to you for leadership and solutions. It is time to rise to the occasion and address the economic challenges that are pushing millions deeper into poverty. The future of our nation depends on it.

Oluwatobi Ojabello, senior economic analyst at BusinessDay, holds a BSc and an MSc in Economics as well as a PhD (in view) in Economics (Covenant, Ota).

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