• Friday, May 24, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Building resilience to endure economic hardship

Building resilience to endure economic hardship

This is not the best of times for Nigerians. People are going through a difficult face of stringent, hurtful economic hardship exacerbated by unabated galloped inflation, whose terminal date is unanticipated given the present continuous overlapping situation. As revealed, Nigerians are traumatised in all facets of life. The skyrocketing cost of food and medications aggravates the already awkward situation of insecurity; erratic electricity supplies; deteriorating networking of roads across the country; lack of pipe-borne water in major cities, towns, and rural areas, and so on, make life solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. As Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) rightly argued in his book “Leviathan,” without government, life would be miserable.

Nigerians are at their wits end; the monthly salary is decreasing in geometric progression because of the perpetual devaluation of the naira in relation to dollars, pounds, and euros that we use as the metric system of measurement. As the economy shrinks daily, the purchasing power of the naira is declining. The naira, our major currency, is vastly depreciating, causing an economic recession. A lot of naira is needed to purchase a loaf of bread, a kilo of Garri, a packet of sugar, a bag of rice, a tin of milk, a kilo of meat and fish, and even a sachet of water.

Notably, the Nigerian economy has retrogressed from recession to depression, something like the 1983 saga. The prices of foodstuffs, groceries, medications, housing rent, taxes, utility charges, transportation, and fuel have gone up in the last eight months while people’s salaries and income have remained the same or even decreased in relation to naira depreciation. The government is pleading with citizens to endure the hardship without any cogent policy implementation to alleviate the suffering and poverty in the land. Little did people in the government realise that there is a limit to human endurance. While the non-availability of basic amenities is endurable, how long would people endure hunger? It must be noted that a hungry man is an angry man, as the saying goes.

Seriously, Nigerians are tired of a deteriorating system that cannot secure their future. The deteriorating economy is negatively impacting people’s psychology, and this aggravating mental neurosis, mental illness, and anxiety disorder have resulted in increasing cases of blood pressure, ill health, and, above all, a series of suicide attempts among average Nigerians.

The only people who are not complaining about this precarious economic situation are the people in government who are making cheap money. The monthly salary, or “take home,” is just a figure; it takes the average family nowhere. The minimum wage of 30,000 naira is less than $25, according to the current value. Garri which was prided as the poor man’s food is now out of the reach of the poor man because a “Mudu or Kongo” of Garri is 1000 naira and it contains 10 tins of milk.

People are looking to the government for help to cure the negative effects of food security. However, the government seems powerless; they don’t really know where to start. Everything has turned higgledy-piggledy topsy-turvy, as Wole Soyinka rightly said in his book titled “Forest of a Thousand Demons.” They are bustling with good ideas on how to generate revenue, which will be looted, but bereft of ideas on how to manage and subsidise citizens whose taxes are used to service their expensive lifestyle.

In this situation of uncertainty, Nigerians need to build resilience to endure this economic hardship. Resilience means being able to adapt to life’s misfortune (hunger and scarcity of money) and setbacks. At this material time, resilience is the only antidote that can protect people from suicide, deteriorating health, and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety that can aggravate people’s blood pressure and heart attacks that kill.

In the meantime, people need to avoid unnecessary expenses and rather connect with family, friends, and any social group that could give them the support they need to navigate this difficult period. Also, people should embrace a low-key lifestyle to conserve money. This means that people should stop expensive burial rites, marriage ceremonies, child naming, housewarming, and chieftaincy titles, which many people spend fortunes on as status symbols to show their class. One should not run into debt because of all these ceremonies commonly celebrated in our various communities across the country. Again, prioritise your spending based on your scale of preferences, like foods, medication, school fees, transportation, and utilities like a phone and electricity. Avoid buying expensive “Aso Ebi.” Try to learn from how you coped in the past by avoiding envy and competition. Above all, people should be optimistic and adapt to the new lifestyle of austerity measures. The current prevailing situation, as it emerged recently, differs dramatically from the previous one and is expected to remain like this for some time. Therefore, the new normal for citizens is simply to survive economically.