• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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BusinessDay

The price of happiness: Can Nigerians afford it anymore?

The price of happiness: Can Nigerians afford it anymore?

“Happiness is free,” they say. Yet, this age-old wisdom seems laughably distant from the daily grind and pervasive dissatisfaction felt by Nigerians today. As we find ourselves deep into the second quarter of the year, the economic landscape remains disturbingly ambiguous.

Recent insights from a BusinessDay survey, conducted across major markets in Lagos and parts of Ogun State, paint a bleak picture. Market vendors and consumers alike are grappling with the escalating costs of basic necessities, which are straining their already fragile finances to the breaking point.

The sharp rise in prices has turned the act of purchasing essentials into a daunting challenge, leaving many feeling helpless and enraged. The lingering hardships from last year persist unabated, amplifying a collective sense of despair.

Q: “Economic stagnation, coupled with soaring living costs, has left a once resilient populace battling to keep their heads above water, both financially and emotionally.”

Market vendors, once optimistic about robust trade, now face plummeting sales. Their customers can no longer stretch their meagre incomes to meet the rising costs, forcing them to make heart-wrenching choices between feeding their families and covering other critical needs.

The fear for the future is palpable. Economic stagnation, coupled with soaring living costs, has left a once resilient populace battling to keep their heads above water, both financially and emotionally.

Read also: High food prices eat away at Nigerians’ income

This economic hardship extends far beyond the marketplaces. It seeps into every corner of daily life, with rising unemployment, transportation costs, and healthcare expenses compounding the crisis. Nigerians are facing a multifaceted economic nightmare that demands urgent attention.

The government’s lack of a coherent economic strategy only fuels the anxiety and uncertainty gripping millions. A recent commentator starkly highlighted this issue, arguing that what the president needs is not an economic team shrouded in sugar-coated words and hidden truths. Instead, a team willing to confront and communicate the harsh realities is essential—experts who can accurately diagnose the problems and propose realistic, actionable solutions.

In these challenging times, transparency and accountability are crucial. Nigeria’s leaders must face the stark realities of inflation, unemployment, and the escalating cost of living head-on. An economic team that hides behind euphemisms and half-truths will only worsen the crisis. Conversely, a team that is forthright and proactive could steer the country towards recovery and growth.

Mr President, Nigerians are hungry and deeply dissatisfied with your administration’s handling of the economy. Your actions have thrust over 130 million people into poverty, with the situation worsening as inflation rises for the 16th consecutive month, reaching 33.69 percent in April 2024. Furthermore, food inflation has skyrocketed to 40.53 percent year-on-year, a staggering jump from the 24.61 percent recorded in April 2023, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

This relentless inflation surge has rendered basic necessities unaffordable for many Nigerians. The average family struggles to put food on the table, and the overall cost of living has become unsustainable. Soaring prices are eroding the purchasing power of the populace, deepening the already severe levels of poverty and hardship.

The economic turmoil is driving businesses to close at an alarming rate, as highlighted by BusinessDay. Even major corporations are seeking more stable environments elsewhere. Among those who exited Africa’s fourth-largest economy last year were GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria, Equinor, Sanofi, Bolt Food, and Procter & Gamble.

Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of TotalEnergies, remarked on this trend, pointing out, “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 NBS showing a rise to 5 percent. However, this figure barely scratches the surface, as underemployment and informal sector struggles paint an even grimmer picture. The inability to secure stable employment is pushing more Nigerians into poverty, exacerbating the already dire economic conditions.

The inequality gap is widening at an alarming rate, with a Gini coefficient of 55.1 indicating a deepening socio-economic chasm. While a small elite continues to amass wealth, the majority are plunged into deeper economic despair, threatening social cohesion and stifling economic growth.

Immediate and robust action is imperative. Your administration must tackle these issues head-on with transparency and accountability. Stabilising the economy, curbing inflation, and implementing sustainable growth policies are essential. Direct support for the most vulnerable segments of society is also crucial to alleviate suffering and restore hope.

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 driving millions into poverty. The future of our nation depends on it.