#Aribigbola's Lines

Is Nigeria really in coma?

Afolabi Aribigbola

In recent days, information coming out from highly placed government officials indicate that economically the government inherited by the present federal administration was in coma. One of such highly placed government functionaries that disclosed the precarious situation of the country is the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun. He alluded to the poor state on the economy of Nigeria while responding to questions on Channels Television penultimate Sunday stating emphatically that President Tinubu inherited an administration that was almost comatose. This is not just an indictment of previous administrations and leadership, but essentially a manifestation of failure of governance in the country over the years.

This revelation has given many patriotic Nigerians serious concern as to how the fortune of once prosperous nation degenerated to this dismal level. This was a country whose leaders some years back opined that money was not a problem but how to spend it. I have since been musing about this unpalatable development prompting one to begin to ask some salient questions including one that relates to asking whether the country is actually in a coma as revealed or not. And if actually the country is in coma, what and who are responsible?

 Also, is the country deploying the right strategies and actions to get out of the woods? Indeed, this is not the first time we are being told that the Nigerian economy is in comatose requiring serious urgent actions to redress the debilitating situation. In September 2016 for instance, Lai Mohammed, then Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture informed Nigerians that the administration of President Muhammed Buhari were was on a rescue mission to resuscitate Nigeria after the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) left it in a coma. Similarly, in 2022 as a build up to 2023 Presidential elections, the then Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State asserted that Nigeria is in a coma, insisting that only the PDP can save the country from collapse. Mr. Peter Obi, the Presidential candidate of Labour Party in the 2023 Presidential election while soliciting for supports submitted that Nigeria was in a comatose state and needs a specialist like him to save its life. The imports of all the above submissions and other assertions points to a simple fact that things are not well in the country and that Nigerians are living and working in very pitiable conditions not suitable for people generally. And that there is the urgent need to address the precarious situations to find solutions to the economic challenges facing the country.

Of course, one does not need to look too far to believe that the country is in crisis in all the major sector of her national space life. Suffice to say that evidence abound in all parts to show that the country is really in a coma, a self-inflicted one for that matter. An appraisal of all indices of welfare and good living in the country will point to the stark reality that Nigeria is in comatose state that requires serious concern and actions to remedy the precarious situation. Poverty that has been ravaging the country over the years got to its peak in recent years culminating in the country being termed the world’s poverty capital. This is beside the disclosure that over 133 million Nigerians are multi dimensionally poor. 133million out of a population of a little over 200 million is really huge and scary. The free fall in the value of the naira and its consequences in escalating prices of goods and services beyond the reach of most Nigerians have imposed serious stress and pains on ordinary Nigerians. Therefore, many people found it extremely difficult to feed their families and the growing army of beggars are increasing on the streets more than any other time in the history of the country. Insecurity is not only rife in the country but has reached dangerous dimensions as precious lives of several citizens are decimated by bandits, ritual killers, kidnappers, armed robbers, murderous herders and Boko Haram insurgents, among others. Things are so bad that the country can no longer feed itself but have to depend on other countries through borrowings.

The country now has a very high debt profile which is the highest in history. According to the Dept Management Office (DMO), Nigeria’s total public debt stock as at June 30, 2023, was N87. 38tn ($113.42bn). This consists of total domestic and external debts of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the thirty-six states and Federal Capital Territory. In addition the DMO indicated that the projected government’s service-to revenue ration of 73.7 per cent for 2023 was high and a threat to debt sustainability. The above suggest serious economic crisis because most of the income of the country will be deployed to servicing debts. The country attained the dangerous level where the country is classified as being in coma because of poor leadership and unbridled corruption pervading all aspects of the country’s national life. Also, ineffective, inefficient and lack lustre leadership that cannot lead by good example brought the country to the bad state in which it has attained.

Beyond bemoaning the poor state of Nigerian economy and other ills bedeviling the country, it is time to begin to seek realistic solutions to them. In any case these problems were cumulative results of profligacy, corruption and outright laziness on the part of some Nigerians. We need to be looking for ways out of the quagmire. Afterall problems are meant to be solved. Nigeria and Nigerians must first accept that the country is in serious crisis and therefore agreed to change the negative narratives. The first step is to begin to source for good leaders, leaders that will be committed to overall societal welfare and prosperity of all, not for self or family interests.

There is the need to grow the economy of the country. We must stop consumption of foreign expensive goods and services that is putting serious stress on our foreign exchange earnings. The leadership of the country should take responsibility and be committed to solving the seemingly intractable problems facing the country. In other words, they should desist from engaging in blame game and focus on how to move the country forward. Afterall, they know that the country has serious problems before they offered to serve the country. Leadership presupposes taking responsibility to chart a new direction for their nation and not to continue to give excuses as has been the stock in trade of leaders in Nigeria.

There is the need to mobilise the people to appreciate the problems of the country towards obtaining their support to chart a new path and direction to move the country out of its present predicament. It is time for work and not blame game. The country has witnessed enough of blame game. The country needs growth in all ramifications be it in social , economic and political spheres and the only way to achieve them is to come with sound agenda and programmes of development, not for privilege or ruling class to continue to pass the buck to previous administrations. Nigerians in the future should be prepared to elect, forthright and competent people to lead the country without recourse to ethnic, religion and sectional sentiments that often dictate allegiance and supports for political parties and their candidates.  Also, Nigerians must start to ask their leaders questions. The past unprogressive approach of applauding appointments to remind them that it is their community’s turn to enrich and favour themselves must be discarded. 

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