• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

In Nigeria, ‘business as usual’ signals the beginning of the end

Nigeria’s economy

The Nigerian government’s insistence on maintaining an inefficient pseudo-federal system, economically illiterate policies like border closures and all-encompassing love of force as a problem solver will be the end of the country as we currently know it.

Rather than dealing with Nigeria’s political and infrastructural deficits, it seems clear what the establishment’s continued priorities are with each passing week. Nigeria’s government clearly does not intend to change. Here is why that is a very bad idea.

Don’t Get it Twisted, Nigeria is unsustainable

For the benefit of the unaware, allow me to itemise the real problems staring Nigeria in the face and threatening our continued existence as a functioning political and economic entity.

Nigeria loses over 3,000sq km of marble land to the Sahara Desert annually – an area roughly twice the size of Lagos State.

Nigeria has a terrifying population bulge that is already deluging the country with uneducated, unemployed, hungry and thus angry young men – something that will make Book Haram look like a picnic in the medium to long term.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s founding principles are in jeopardy

Nigeria is losing economic relevance internationally as income from its principal export commodity continues to drop off a cliff, with no replacement cashflow source over the next decade and a half.

Nigeria’s neighbours and fellow AU members are starting to isolate Nigeria economically and diplomatically. The proposed West African Eco currency is a manifestation of this.

Nigeria is grappling with no fewer than four different armed insurgent groups, in addition to a secessionist group with widespread support in the southeast.

Nigeria has a crippling transport, power, education and healthcare infrastructure deficit that prevents the country from ever achieving better results than at present. It has now added a widely popular and internationally supported youth protest movement to its list of sworn enemies with a brainless, unnecessary and ill-thought civilian massacre that has alienated practically the entire under-40 demographic and isolated the government geopolitically.

Nigeria has a mounting domestic and international debt problem, with the country’s debt servicing by some estimates now worth as much as 124 percent of the government’s annual revenue.

Rome Did Not Decline in a Day

When discussing the reality of Nigeria’s unabated slide into the Twilight Zone, a common roadblock that prevents people from properly understanding the issue is the idea that a “crash” is something that happens in a short space of time and via a series of noticeable disasters.

In reality, as typified by the example of ancient Rome, the decline of a behemoth like Nigeria is almost never sudden and visually spectacular. History tells us that it took decades of slow decline due to regulatory laxity, corruption and guerilla warfare attacks for the world’s foremost power of that time to succumb to its fate. Through this period of slow decline, Rome itself continued to be a relatively prosperous city that considered itself the global capital of elite philosophy, art, science and governance.

Similarly, Nigeria will probably never suffer a single defining disaster moment that announces itself as karma for our national decision making. The ancient Chinese ritual punishment called “Lingchi” best illustrates how Nigeria’s descent into the abyss will take place. Often translated as “Death by a Thousand Cuts,” Lingchi involved up to 3,600 incisions made on the victim’s body, leaving them to bleed out slowly, inexorably and painfully.

Crucially, the victim was generally given a strong pain reliever like Opium to dull the pain, such that they were not even as aware of the sheer abomination of their torture as onlookers. A Lingchi execution tended to begin with the victim’s eyes being put out, so in addition to not feeling the worst of the pain, they could not see where the next cut would be made.

Nigeria is currently in the first stages of its Lingchi execution. As a country, we have our hypothetical ‘opium’ stuffed into our mouths, preventing us from seeing the economic, cultural, environmental and civilisational threats circling in to inflict slices. Religion, entertainment, pockets of bourgeois life isolated from the country around, and subsidies, all function to a certain extent as opium to different groups of Nigerians.

According to history, right at the moment when the guns were overrunning the gates of Rome, the city’s legislators were locked in a debate on the subject “If a fly falls into Holy ointment, is the ointment then tainted or does the fly become holy?”

Yesterday, in a country which has three active war fronts and all the brewing crisis points listed above, I saw the headline “Soldiers on #EndSARS duty in Ibadan flog woman for indecent dressing, shave youths.”

The parallel is self-evident.