It would, perhaps, be an understatement if someone says things are not going as expected or they ought to in the local economy. Ask the worker, the businessman, the employer or even a student what they think about the economy, chances are that they will try to paint one bleak picture or the other. The news we all hear every now and then often do not give room for optimism about any improvement in the near picture. People are blaming the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for the economic woes being experienced. But is it just about the government? What help can you render to ensure things improve for the better in the country?
It must be the government, right?
What is playing out in the country is a reminder of how people can easily turn their back on you when the going gets tough. I remember a recent match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in which Pedro Rodriguez wasn’t playing as well as fans expected. Many of the fans took to social media lambasting the midfielder. Few minutes afterwards, the Spaniard scored and accolades started pouring in from some of these same fans. Life!
This brings me to the immense criticisms being directed at the present government, especially at President Buhari. Almost two years ago, people were waxing lyrical after the All-Progressives Congress (APC) took control at the centre. But all that euphoria and optimism have obviously waned, virtually gone with the wind, occasioned by the economic challenges being experienced now. What we hear now are bad words and phrases directed at Buhari, who some even now call ‘Buhaha.’ One question I think is really relevant to ask here is that: is the president to be blamed entirely for the challenges people in this great country are facing?
The devaluation of the domestic currency has contributed significantly to the problem in the local economy. Ordinarily, the move should have improved the fortunes of Nigerians, but the case of this country is peculiar. I must admit that I was one of those who thought a non-fixed exchange rate regime would be beneficial to the economy as you can tell from the tone of this post. I appear to be wrong. To his credit, President Buhari was not in support of devaluation and was reportedly angry with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CNB) after it came into effect. While I do not in any way intend to exonerate the APC-led government of causing the economic recession in the country, I think it would be unfair to apportion the entire blame to it.
Imports craze worsening recession
I mentioned earlier that devaluation hasn’t delivered desired results due to the peculiar nature of this country. What do I mean? This is a country whose citizens depend heavily on imported goods. Some have even described Nigeria as a ‘consuming’ nation. We love to consume, but not very good at producing. The issue here is that devaluation is an economic tool that is beneficial to a country that has goods to export to foreign market. It makes local products more attractive to foreign buyers due to cheaper prices (you may refer to my previous post linked above to better understand how the local economy is supposed to benefit).
Many Nigerians have great predilection for imported goods. It is not bad at all to buy imported goods. What I consider excessive is spending large amount of money on things that are just meant for show-offs, rather than for their productive capability. For instance, I think it’s a bit unreasonable to go for a phone costing N200,000 and above just to wow your peers, even when you can get an amazing substitute for less than N100,000. Unnecessary big-ticket items contribute in one way or the other to the recession problem people are dealing with in this country. They compete for dollars or foreign exchange with more important commodities that could be more useful to the economy and well-being of Nigerians at large.
Where do you come in?
All hands must be on deck in order to get the economy out of recession. You may be less concerned about the present situation if things are going so well for you right now, especially if you are someone that earns in U.S. dollars or who is to a significant extent immune to the high inflation in the country somehow. But concern and care needs to be shown for those who are more affected by the current trend, such as fixed-income earners and the poor of the society.
If it is not obvious yet, you might be wondering where you come in. One of the ways you can help is by ‘buying Nigeria.’ It will help if you can start considering locally-produced alternatives when buying stuffs, especially if the latter are of about the same quality. Prohibitively dear items that do not add to productive capacity could be done without for now. In short, we should all endeavour to make some sacrifices when it comes to unnecessary imports.
I’m just addressing the consumer side of this whole recession issue. The supply side as regards production for possible exports is practically beyond what any of us ordinary Nigerians can do a lot about. The significant job in that aspect has to be done by the government, which of course knows what to do as regards providing necessary infrastructure and conducive environment for businesses to thrive. But whether what needs to be done is being or will be done is an entirely different cup of tea. Let’s just play our part and be justified. Or wouldn’t it be great to be able to say: I have played my part?
On the bright side, some experts see things improving for the better in 2017 – we’re almost there, God permitting. We can make that more realistic by playing our parts in one way or the other.