BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Scarcity in the midst of plenty: A good day tomorrow?

We have seen that those in authority have tried their best but whether they deserve to be commended or not remains a duty for Nigerians to perform. At the dawn of the New Year 2023, Nigeria has in its bowl double-digit inflation, humongous debt, insecurity, 133 million poor people with multidimensional poverty, coupled with slow Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. What is the situation going to be like keeping in mind geopolitical activities, looming global recession and resurgence of COVID-19?

As powerful individuals are lambasting themselves on who Nigerians should vote for, we are back to square one. Most Nigerians celebrated the last yuletide season in a low key partly because there was scarcity of fuel in most parts of Nigeria as it was the case in 2017. We have heard about repair of refineries in the past eight years but we kept importing fuel. Unfortunately, fuel is still scarce as we write despite abundance of crude oil.

What does Nigerians want from those in leadership positions? Nigerians want their leaders to lead. Pure and simple. Our leaders should be very concerned about taking the people they lead out of poverty not by words of mouth but by impactful actions – right policies and creation of enabling environment. It’s not too much of a demand if those in authority make efforts to save their people, provide leadership for them, and ensure that they are always safe.

Everything rests squarely on our leaders. To think otherwise, in my view, is to think amiss. Leadership encompasses the totality of the human capacity that is displayed or that can be put into driving a process at various levels in the society for the purpose of providing necessary convincing guidance to their followers. Good followers in large number are important in a society as they ultimately end up being good leaders.

The notion of leadership combines the theory of power and critical decision making to facilitate positive change. What this writer has observed for several decades is that leaders come and go, but problems remain. Leaders are to solve problems. But most leaders sweep problems they created and those they inherited under the carpet while Nigeria remains the same – a less developed country.

When the economy of the nation is relegated to the background because of politics, the citizens are likely to be more miserable than they were in previous years

The year 2022 marks the beginning of election campaigns in which governance has almost been kept in abeyance for politics. When the economy of the nation is relegated to the background because of politics, the citizens are likely to be more miserable than they were in previous years. At the heart of all policy decisions in the new year should be how citizens’ welfare and the Nigerian economy would be improved.

Latest data released by the NBS shows that Nigeria is shouldering 133 million people with multi-dimensional poverty in its haversack. This is a serious issue that should give policy makers serious headaches and sleepless nights. But what do we observe? Baskets of promises by politicians who are marketing themselves and de-marketing their opponents in opposition political parties.

The economic misfortune of most Nigerians are numerous that a cycle of poverty has already been established. The cycle of poverty is that ‘set of factors or events by which poverty, once started, is likely to continue unless there is an intervention.’ The cycle of poverty can be referred to as ‘development trap’ when it is applied to countries (Wikipedia).

Some of the factors that generate poverty are: lack of education, disease, apathy, famine, dishonesty and overpopulation. These in turn contribute to secondary factors namely, lack of markets, poor infrastructure, poor leadership, bad governance, under-employment, lack of skills, and lack of capital amongst others.

Since 1999, events in many states that have contributed to ‘development trap’ in Nigeria are frequent electricity supply interruptions and recurrent fuel scarcity. Frequent electricity supply interruptions and recurrent fuel scarcity are products of poor articulation and implementation of policies, thus most Nigerians are caught in a complex web of ‘development trap.’

The number of the poor is increasing yearly. Some Nigerians who were indigent in 1999 because they could barely spend US$2/day have either expired or have improved. There are some Nigerians who are living with the same amount in the year 2023.

When will the nation stop having frequent electricity supply interruptions and when will the recurrent fuel scarcity cease to be the order of the day in Nigeria? It will take years to fix these problems even when those in authority are consistently consistent with the right attitude and economic policies.

Due to ‘development trap’ of several years, most states in Nigeria have been oscillating from one crisis to the other. Indeed, the country is in a state of tireless crisis. These crises assume political, social, economic, environmental, developmental and even humanitarian dimensions.

Some political analysts have observed that most states in Nigeria ended 2022 with more misery and underdevelopment than they started with. Regrettably, Nigeria is currently going through a situation where young men and women are on desperate journeys outside the shores of the country.

As a result of the fragile economy, an overwhelming majority of Nigerians remain severely impoverished. Hunger, ill-health and lack of access to safe drinking water, limited access to education, exclusion, extremism and violence remained very prominent marks of most parts of the country.

By this pitiable profile, Nigeria remains perhaps, one of the countries in the African Continent where all critical gauges of development show unacceptable decline and where all the socio-economic and political ills that were very conspicuous in the 1990s still continue till today.

The parlous state of affairs have been blamed by some political experts squarely on leadership in the country characterized by fraud on a major scale, the plundering of natural resources, the privatization of state institutions and the development of an economy of plunder. Accordingly, these observers reasoned that the country and indeed, institutions of government are “special purpose vehicles for organized fraudulent activities.”

This writer believes that those currently in authority have seen that the nation is already maneuvering with difficulties in stormy waters. The challenge of leadership in Nigeria therefore demands that concerted efforts should be made in achieving a true and lasting democracy through a credible pattern of political succession devoid of bitterness and rancour.

Read also: Reducing Africa’s poverty through educating the youths

As the nation is in another election season, this writer calls for particular attention to be paid to economic matters to avoid going back into recession. It is suggested advisedly though, that issues associated with elections and political recruitments must be based on sound patriotic values that accommodate honesty, integrity, public service, justice and equity.

To this effect, it is mandatory that relevant government agencies particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Nigeria Police Force, ensure the credibility of the electoral process and strict commitment to constitutional morality. These are germane in order to avert the recurrent challenges associated with political leadership in Nigeria. Nigerians look forward to having a good day tomorrow.

As we prepare for the next elections next month, it is not too much for us to sacrifice our today for our children so that they can have a better tomorrow. If future generations are to remember our nation, those in authority ought to ensure that it is with more gratitude than sorrow. Therefore efforts must be made to leave our children a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through it. Thank you

Happy New Year to all Nigerians, and indeed my respected readers.