By Afolabi Aribigbola
The information in the public domain was that the three tiers of government in Nigeria last week out of the June 2023 distributable revenue of N1.9 trillion that accrued to the federation account, shared only N907 billion and put aside a whopping N709 billion naira to be used for palliatives to mitigate the debilitating effects of economic downturn resulting from the falling naira and attendant increases in the costs of essential goods and services. Indeed, a staggering amount of N1.9 trillion was an exponential leap from an average of about N700 billion in the previous months of the year.
That such an amount will accrue to the federation account is not a surprise to many because the government introduced some sweeping policy that drastically devalued the national currency several times to its lowest value in history to the extent that the United States Central Bank has to submit that naira is now undervalued. For the umpteenth time, one will want to reiterate that unfettered hawking of the national currency as we are witnessing in the country is a symptom of backwardness deployed in third world countries at the instance of World Bank and IMF to shore up their earnings whatever is the effects on the welfare of their people.
It should be emphasized that the approach has never helped any society to grow, rather it has always led to more crises and deepening poverty as currently the situation in Nigeria. The above scenarios and happenings in Nigeria where the naira has been significantly devalued and living condition of Nigerians pitiable have become not just a worrisome situation but one that is giving some us sleepless nights as to what will become the ultimate result this action of government in an attempt to solve some nagging problems associated with subsidy fraud regime to deploy policies that will make sufficient quantity of naira available only to have negative repercussions on the wellbeing of the people. The reality in today’s Nigeria was that the government by their policies inadvertently and deliberately devalued the national currency to be able to reap more naira to service the local economy requiring serious intervention. This has invariably generated negative outcomes impacting seriously on the quality of life or wellbeing of the people of the country.
The fact that it is analogous to devaluing the quality of life of Nigerians to increase the quantity of naira accruing to the government without considering the consequences on the people. It has a serious implications on the wellbeing of Nigerians. The quality of life is a concept that has been developed and deployed to measure the level of enjoyment, comfort and health of people generally. It is a concept use to capture or describe the wellbeing of people or how well off people are otherwise. Therefore, the current policies of government that sought to increase the quantity of naira in the country, has it improve or cause a decline in the living condition of Nigerians? The simple answer is that it has impacted negatively on the welfare or wellbeing of Nigerians. Some apologists of the establishment will be quick to argue that they are temporary sufferings and that things will improve in future and that inflation is a global phenomenon affecting most societies of the world at the moment.
A repeat of what Nigerians have been told many times in the past when past administrations introduced or implemented difficult policies with excruciating pains on the people. Of course, the concern of this column is the realisation that the rising naira figure is not a product of increased productivity or creativity but essentially a product of the devaluation of the naira thanks to merging the autonomous and official foreign exchange market that now promoted the hawking of the national currency without any form of control whatsoever as the practice in western countries of Europe and America. More worrisome is the realisation that the government at this critical period where nothing seems to be working more cash from the system believing that the leaders at all levels will do the needful to take of the negative outcomes of their policies. Of a truth, past records of political leaders’ performances in recent years have not support this position anyway. For instance, we all witnessed what some Governors did with the bailout money released to them by Muhammadu Buhari.
How some of them kept them away from the citizenry and failed to channel the money to the purpose they were meant for until the then Governor of Rivers State voiced out. Therefore making more naira at the expense of the quality of life of the people may not necessarily translate into better life for the people in the nearest future. This has motivated someone to describe the whole exercise as charade of robbing the poor to pay the rich because invariably they will be the ultimate beneficiaries.
The issue that requires consideration about the drastic reduction in living condition of Nigerians because of recent government policy that instigated the rapid fall of the naira against major currencies resulting in the escalating prices of basic commodities essential for good living by the people. Therefore the cumulative effect has been that millions of families in Nigeria are finding it increasingly difficult to cope as many can no longer fend for themselves and their families.
Many Nigerians now trek daily to work and for other activities in their daily routine. Times are really hard in the country as there are more people roaming the major streets seeking one form of assistance or the other to survive the hard rimes in the country. House break that was becoming a thing of the past has returned. Just within the last one week, a neighbour was visited twice by robbers and another house was ransacked and valuables carted away while his family was in the church last Sunday.
Also, during the same period some robbers went to the tomatoes farm of another neighbour to harvest his tomatoes in a bid to survive the hard times. The truth is that times are really hard for the common people in the country. Unfortunately, the focus of the government is how to generate more revenue not minding the consequences on the living condition of the people they were elected to ensure their welfare and prosperity. Yes, the government need more revenue to be able to provide for the need of the people in terms of the provision of infrastructure and facilities that will support their good living conditions and businesses. However, a situation where the focus is on increase in revenue without considering its effects on the life of the citizenry is not a good one. There could be some unintended negative outcomes, these are usually programmed into realistic policies designed to bring about development. I am not sure this is the situation in the present case in Nigeria. The government rolled out its policies without ways to ameliorate its effects on the people.
The government is just finding ways to reduce the dangerous destructive consequences of their actions on the people. What they ought to have designed and introduced along with the policies before implementation. Elsewhere, where things work, workers for instance don’t need to agitate or strike before their wages are adjusted proportionately to the level of inflation and instability in the economy to cushion or mitigate negative outcomes of government decisions and vagaries of economic climate. Therefore, the government must look at the issues again and come up with proactive and not reactive programmes and or palliatives to mitigate the current excruciating sufferings of Nigerians