BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

The obsession of men and economic repercussions

It was Lord Acton, a British historian who drew the attention of the world to an observation that a person’s sense of morality decreases as his or her power increases. With the passage of time, we have heard the philosophical expression that “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

In other words, having power corrupts a man, or lessens his morality, and the more power a man has, the more corrupted he would become. It is regrettable that most times, those in power do not have the people’s best interests at heart.

Yet, people – rich and poor – love power. We talk about national power in international relations. Individuals are not left out in the power game. Individuals may seek power over others due to fear or mistrust which is a motivation for adopting coercive and antisocial modes of survival. Most men like power more than they would naturally admit. Why is it so? Most men are obsessed with power because it offers them freedom and unrestricted access to government resources. Often, we observe that power gives freedom to dominate and oppress the less privileged.

While sanctions are imposed on Russia by the international community to asphyxiate the country’s economy, countries imposing the punishments are at a risk of paying the price for their actions

A police officer is given great power to enforce the law, but often they use the power to hurt others. When a police officer commits offense against humanity, there may not be punishment for his/her actions. We are not only referring to the defunct Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). But there is always a repercussion when men in power are obsessed with power.

Today, at the global level, we have seen that the obsession of one man is making Ukraine pay heavily for an invasion perpetrated by Russia. As cities are being razed in Ukraine, seaports are being bombed, civilians face humanitarian crisis and the country may not know peace again for many years. The man behind this onslaught is Russia’s President. He has caused pain for hundreds of millions of people globally, particularly in Africa who think they have no stake in the Ukraine-Russia war.

While sanctions are imposed on Russia by the international community to asphyxiate the country’s economy, countries imposing the punishments are at a risk of paying the price for their actions.

Already, car owners across the globe are facing higher gasoline prices because of restrictions on Moscow’s oil exports. Aviation and shipping sectors in most parts of the world are facing challenging times. High costs of fuel can influence negatively the profitability paths of both shipping and aviation sectors.

The war in Ukraine that is barely three months old is exacerbating already soaring food costs occasioned partly by COVID-19 related supply chain challenges that have contributed to high levels of inflation globally. The war coupled with varying degrees of inflation in many countries is driving up the price of wheat globally. It has been predicted by experts that food prices will soar even more since Russia and Ukraine account for a third of the global wheat production. Russia’s exports will be grossly affected by sanctions, and because much of Ukraine is a battlefield, its agricultural cycle will be disrupted.

In all honesty, Russia’s actions is a display of unacceptable affront to the global order and it is predicted that it will have enormous repercussions in Ukraine and beyond. While disruptions to the price of wheat could send grocery prices rising for consumers in leading industrialized economies, disruptions to the food supply in poorer countries could become a matter of life and death. Sri Lanka and other economically weak nations can tell the story better – their economies have gone haywire.

The world as it is today is experiencing what experts call the “globalization of inflation.” According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), inflation is more than doubled between March 2021 and March 2022. “The annual rate of inflation worldwide, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), accelerated to 9.2 percent in March 2022 up from 7.5 percent in February 2022, 6.8 percent in January 2022 and 6.4 percent in December 2021.

I agree with experts who theorized that overall rise in inflation reflects the effects of the COVID-19 related lockdowns between 2020 and 2021. And more recently, increase in inflation globally has been driven by the surge in energy and food prices, especially since the war between Russia and Ukraine started. The conflict, experts believe has inflicted a major shock on commodity markets, disrupting global pattern of trade, production and consumption in ways that are likely to keep prices rising in the coming years.

Globally, experts have also expressed fears about reduction in growth and rising inflation in many countries including Nigeria. According to the Financial Times global inflation tracker, Nigeria’s inflation is steadily rising while the GDP is slowly dropping between April 2021 and April 2022. In the last five years, we read that official inflation has increased cumulatively by about 93.88 percent. Regrettably, personal accounts of individuals and households show that inflation is much higher than official figures displayed in Nigeria.

In spite of global economic inflation, Nigerian minimum wage remains at N30,000/month. Nigerians, we were told “survive because they adapt”. Adapt to poverty or inflation? Not sure! But it is difficult to predict how long Nigerians will adapt to inflation in the face of poverty. As the general public questions the veracity of data in Nigeria, unemployment, population, and debt of the country keep increasing. How do we manage and solve these problems? We need to have Nigerians in elected and appointed offices at the state and federal levels who are sincere and committed to the people and who understand how the world works.

We are aware that the 2023 political game has commenced and politicians are making moves to impress the people. We think this is an opportunity to remind those men and women who are interested in providing leadership that the rot the nation is facing today economically, politically and socially requires technocrats, not heavyweights.

To steer the ship of the nation towards development after the general elections in 2023 is not about grandstanding, money or popularity. Those politicians who are dolling out millions of naira to procure forms in order to occupy the Villa or government houses as the case may be, need to know that the forms they are buying is not an invitation to a tea party but signifies their intentions to save the soul of Nigeria.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor we were told acquired presidential aspiration form though by proxy. Nigerians who understand the mechanism of the CBN were strongly of the view that the governor of the apex bank should gently resign before dabbling into politics. The law doesn’t allow a partisan CBN governor to superintend over the formulation of the nation’s monetary policies. We learnt that the CBN governor has withdrawn his presidential bid. Thankfully, the “governor of governors” saved himself and the apex banking institution from embarrassment. His detractors will have fun but not heart attack.

Many cabinet ministers have shown interest to either be state governors or president of the country. From the highest office in the country, hot orders have been dished to civil and public servants interested in partisan politics to quietly resign. Some have resigned while others have to confer with their constituencies before obeying the orders. But in Nigeria anything and everything is possible as powerful men do not follow the law; they are above the law. Anyway, Nigerians are waiting for serving government officials interested in partisan politics to resign immediately. Or jettison the idea of taking part in partisan politics while in office.

The presidency is so attractive and juicy that some political aspirants including some public officers in government have procured political party forms worth millions of naira in their bid to become president of the most populous black nation in the world. Nigerians need politicians with fresh ideas to lead them. But one wonders why many individuals who are part of the numerous economic challenges the nation is facing today want to remain perpetually in office to inherit insecurity occasioned by terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, communal warriors, oil thieves and sea pirates.

The economy of the nation is not shipshape as we have depreciated naira.

Read also: Is the CBN Governor a public servant or political appointee? Does it even matter?

The foreign exchange reserve is depleting, we have not resolved high debt to revenue ratio. We have plummeting oil production, rising cost of diesel and aviation fuels. In addition to all these economic challenges, the country is being labelled the poverty capital of the world. One wonders why the number of out-of-school children keeps increasing. It is about 15 million children that are out of school while most public tertiary institutions in the country are on strike. Electricity power supply is epileptic. Yet, we were told by the highest office of government that “cabals” are frustrating reforms in Nigeria’s power sector. What a shame? This writer did not know that Nigeria have “cabals” who are above the law.

I agree with an eminent scholar who is of the view that in the brinkmanship of statecraft, there are no “one-size-fits” all remedies but always a combination of options which must put over 200 million peoples’ wellbeing at the centre of every consideration. We need to continuously interrogate this fact in the emerging socio-economic and political scenarios of the Nigerian state. We need a country that works. A country that gives people irrespective of religion, region, ethnicity, language and other identities equal opportunities to thrive and give their best in return to their country.

We believe that the 2023 general elections will not worsen the nation’s economic situation but will provide a president and cabinet members with the capacity to turn the economy around positively.

At the state level, we look forward to electing governors who are accessible to the people if permitted. Nigerians are tired of recycled politicians who were or are governors through manipulation of election results. So, we plead with political parties to give us responsible politicians who will provide leadership to the people.

Overall, the electorate needs to be decisive in the forth coming elections in order to elect capable politicians, not politicians with empty promises who cannot pay salaries and pensions of workers. Thank you.

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