• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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2022: Which way for Nigerians from here?

2022: Which way for Nigerians from here?

In the face of the current realities in the country, it will not be out of place to query what is actually wrong with the country.

Sonny Okosun, the late ace musician, also asked the question in an entire album he dedicated to the problem with Nigeria. The question and message of the album, ‘Which way Nigeria’, which he released in 1984, are still being asked today as the situation is getting worse.

Sadly, many Nigerians who have weathered the storms of 2021 seem not to have the enthusiasm that heralds a New Year, as there is no definite commitment by the country’s leadership to make life better for them.

By July, barely six months from today, the country will experience the highest fuel pump price increase in history as the government had warned in late 2021 that fuel subsidy would be finally removed by the middle of 2022.

As expected, prices of commodities, especially food items will soar more, leaving more Nigerians hungry, while transport fares will more than double, impacting further on cost, and pushing inflation to an all-time high.

Currently, the inflation rate is about 15.99 percent, unemployment rate hit an all-time high of about 33.3 percent in 2021 from the previous record of 27.1 percent in early 2020, Naira is depreciating every day against major foreign currencies; oil price at the international market is not increasing as expected, while SMEs are starved of needed funds to stimulate the economy because of the unimaginable bank interest rate of 25 percent and above.

All the indices combined to offer a gloomy picture for the Nigerian economy in 2022, leaving the masses, who do not have stolen public funds, most vulnerable as prices of goods begin to increase, life becoming more unbearable, yet the government seems unconcerned.

Also, for the teeming unemployed graduates, their hope of getting white-collar jobs is already dashed as Muhammadu Buhari, president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on whose table the buck of formulating policies to create jobs stops, asked them not to look the way of the government and at most, he told them to go to the farm.

Buhari, in an exclusive interview with Channels Television on Wednesday, bluntly told Nigerian youths not to rely on the Federal Government for jobs but to put their hard-earned degree to use by identifying problems and creating jobs, as well as, tapping from the large amount of arable and uncultivated land across the country.

“I wish when they go to school and earn their degrees they don’t do it thinking the government must give them jobs; you get educated and you are certainly better than an illiterate even in identifying personal problems.

“In Nigeria’s population, 35 years and below are the majority and they want the government to get jobs for them, and they do not care that only 2.5 percent of our arable land is cultivated. Our attention should be on agriculture,” the President urged.

Reacting to prevailing circumstances and Buhari’s position, Solomon Gbenga, deputy national youth leader of Young Progressives Party (YPP), said there was no hope of a better condition of life for Nigerians in 2022 and beyond.

Gbenga told BusinessDay that the President has clearly shown that there are no plans for the people and Nigerians are going to keep living the way they have been in the past six or seven years of his administration.

The YPP deputy national youth leader said Nigerians should at this point begin to know that their fate is in their hands and if given the opportunity again, they should never vote the APC or the PDP into power because both of them are birds of the same feathers.

“We have seen the reality of time that our President is someone who doesn’t understand the feelings of the people and doesn’t know how to go about issues on ground anymore. For the President to have come out clearly to say that if you graduate it shouldn’t be the yardstick for you to get a job then what is the essence of education”? He asked.

For Sam Onikoyi, a Nigerian historian and Commonwealth researcher based in Brussels, 2022 will be a tough year for Nigerians if the people decide to keep quiet and die in silence.

“2022 should be a year to begin the process of righting wrongs because the 2023 election is at hand. First, get the politicians to fulfill their promises. If they borrow and say it was for infrastructure and refineries are not working, seaports are jam-packed, the railway is yet to impact, then stop them from borrowing more”, he said. He argued that in a country blessed with huge crude oil and natural gas resources, there should have been concerted efforts at building many refineries to refine and supply petroleum products to West Africa, Africa and other parts of the world. “Why is the government not implementing practical solutions to subsidy, it is not removal, but giving license and encouraging private sectors to build more refineries to boost supply”, he said.

Ifewodor Ogala, a retired Navy officer, thinks that the economic situation in the country will get worse if the government does not consciously and sustainably address the insecurity problem in 2022.

“No businessman will risk his hard-earned investments in a troubled country like Nigeria. We talk about building more refineries to address the subsidy removal issue, but the government is not doing much to address insecurity and assure return on investment. The private refineries being built will always be targeted during crises as indigene-related issues will always come up”, he explained.

Read also: Sluggish electricity metering program creates path to extort, frustrate Nigerians

Also speaking on the issue, Iyorchia Ayu, national chairman of, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the main opposition, said President Buhari has nothing new to tell Nigerians, having run out of ideas on how to move the country forward.

Ayu, a former President of the Senate, in a reaction to the interview Buhari granted Channels Television said: “To expect anything new from our President would be a misplaced and unfortunate expectation.

“From the economy to insecurity, killing of innocent farmers by terrorists (which some erroneously termed farmer/herder clashes) and other sundry issues, President Buhari has nothing new to offer”, Ayu said.

Alslo, last Sunday, in his weekly column, ‘Engagement by Chidi Amuta’ in ThisDay, entitled: ‘Unhappy New Year’, Amuta, an erudite scholar and publicist, strongly believed that Nigerians may be in for a tough year.

Amuta may have pre-empted President Muhammadu Buhari, who during his interview with the Channels Television Wednesday gave an indication that it was not going to be a happy new year for Nigerians after all.

Part of his observations was that “In the New Year, Nigerians may be shocked how early in the new year their superstitious wishes for prosperity and happiness will turn into ashes or simply evaporate into thin air. In this place, even the best intentions of divine beneficence are soon thwarted by the machinations of bad or incompetent people.

“Early in the New Year, President Buhari is likely to sign into law a senseless volume of silly figures and statistics called a budget. The volume, compiled by lazy bureaucrats, padded up by greedy legislators and delivered to a bemused nation by semi-literate politicians, is all the empowerment the executive branch needs to proceed on a spending binge.”

He pointed out that “That is the national budget which sensible citizens hardly spare a moment to read. The other 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT follow suit in this futile annual ritual of public fraud. The public does not bother to take a look at the figures since they know the politicians will follow neither their own words nor implement the content of the silly documents.

“The budget process in Nigeria is part of an elaborate ritual of collective deceit and mass hypnosis that goes in the name of governance in these parts”, Amuta said.

He further stated that “Ordinarily, happy New Year should have meant some relief from the existing gamut of explicit taxes on Nigerians. The implicit taxes are assumed. We provide our own security at home, in offices and even when we venture out of town to visit the places of our ancestry.

“Private fees for private security guards, rented police escorts, rented military escorts and private military companies are things that Nigerians pay for even though they have already been taxed by the government for the same services. Add all that to your private water supply, generators and first aid and primary healthcare.”

Kunle Okunola, a public affairs analyst, said Nigerians are suffering because of bad and inexperienced leadership who refused to plan, adding that successive governments in the country have not shown any will to initiate people-oriented policies and implement them to the fullest.

According to him,” Nigerians are suffering because of incompetent leaders, for instance, why did it take Buhari about six years to appoint economy adviser? Why did it take him six months to appoint ministers?

“This administration needs to commit herself to making robust people oriented policies and displaying sincere will to make it work.

Speaking further he said that this administration has failed in two regards in recent years and so it cannot be trusted in making and implementing with sincerity people’s oriented policies.

“This administration needs to march in action with its rhetoric so as to make the life of citizenry better in 2022. The fiscal and physical policies must be such that focus on redefining the state of the economy and having a positive effect on the economy and economic status of the poor masses”.

Considering the imminent hardship, Gbenga observed that the crave for migration to other countries would continue and even increase in 2022 as the condition of life in the country would be worse as Buhari’s interview signified.

“Any Nigerian youth, the first thing on their mind is to go and become a second class or third class citizen elsewhere rather than being a first class citizen where your life and property is not safe, where you are not sure of a better tomorrow. Nigerians now sleep and wake up in a situation of what should happen. It’s already a bad omen for us.

“The public already knows that there is no government that has the feeling of care for the people. It is now so bad that if you have your way as a Nigerian, the first thing you have to do is to leave the country and become a second class citizen. Being in Nigeria, it is either terrorists are coming for you, or lack of job or unemployment is coming your way. Even if you have a job, your poorly paid, it is as good as not having a job.

“So if you see Nigerians migrating to the country, it is for the betterment of themselves and their families because a lot of people are living in abject poverty because of bad policies in place,” Gbenga maintained.