Nigeria On The Brink, People In Excruciating Pains, The Economy Slinking To Recession, By Debo Adeniran

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Coming to terms with the reality of the present times, it is very glaring that our country, Nigeria, is at a dangerous precipice with the present economic repression characterised by the increased sufferings and excruciating pains of the ordinary poor, working and toiling people who constitute the majority.

The skyrocketing increases in the cost of the very basic needs of life; from food to water, fuel to health services, dwindling income to rapidly increasing unemployment and under-employment rate etc. all stem from the progressively receding economy that stares us as a people in the face so boldly.

The economy of the country prior to the present steep recession had been rudderless or directionless and this is in spite of the fact that the indicators were there for the handlers of the Nigerian economy to see before it assumed the recent dimensions.

And because there seems to be no direction, because the economy seems to be at best on autopilot, and at worst under the spell of a powerful magician, the problems emanating from the cesspool of the past keep rearing their ugly monstrous heads, becoming ever more resilient as they expand in scope and scale.

Overwhelmed by the scale of the rot it inherited on assumption of power, and clearly fazed by the enormity of the task at hand, the present ‘change’ regime keeps reminding us at the slightest hint of any difficulty that the humongous maladministration and impunity of the recent past is the cause of our present problems. This worn out lazy excuse has become so monotonous and routine, that each time they speak now; they sound like broken records/audio CDs.

While the government have busied itself with flying excuses around; from past sharp and corrupt practices to fall in the price of international price of crude oil to the freefall of the naira against the dollar etc. the economy has moved from being directionless straight towards recession or a ‘melt-down’.

Let it be said that we know where we are coming from, we know where the rain started beating us, and we know when the rain became a raging storm; but isn’t that why we voted out that sorry excuse for a government? Was that not why we agreed and chorused ‘enough is enough’? Isn’t that the reason we sent that most parasitic of governments parking from power and Aso Rock? Was that not why we embraced the amorphous and ill-defined change?

As a country, it is time to move beyond excuses and expression of frustrations; the government needs to eschew lamentations and come up with pragmatic and practical ways out of the present precipitous economic recession as the situation call for extraordinary measures. Lamenting and agonizing over the past will not automatically translate into inclusive economic growth and national development, without a clearly articulated, debated and shared economic and human development plan of action.

THE CRISES OVER WAGES, SALARIES AND EMOLUMENTS OF WORKERS AND PENSIONERS

It is sad that many states in the country at the moment owe their workers several months in salaries, wages and pensions. Government at different levels has unashamedly expressed ‘inability’ or should we say lack of willingness to pay giving very untenable reasons. This is against the background of government and political office holders’ jumbo salaries and allowance packages plus their characteristic manner of wasteful spending and misplacement of priorities that put their self-aggrandizing interests over that of the workers that create the wealth of the country.

This situation is totally unacceptable and condemnable! From the Residents doctors’ nation-wide strike to workers’ strike in Ondo and Ekiti States, which has now infested federal health workers, from the pensioners plight in Imo state to the mass-quake in Oyo state, the whole country appear to be engulfed by the anger of the working people following the failure of government to pay for legitimately earned wages, salaries and emoluments.

This failure to pay is very reprehensible particularly where the states are concerned given that the Federal Government had earlier in the year given bail-out funds to some states that couldn’t pay their workers to facilitate their ability to pay. But majority of the states that benefited from the bail-out ended up diverting the funds for other purposes.

We condemn this insensitivity to the plight of workers by government and support the working people in every step they are taking to claim the rights and their legitimately earned wages. Presently, Imo state government owes pensioners for 70 months’ pay, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo states owe over 6 months’ salary; this is sheer wickedness! This is happening in a country where ex-governors are on life pension with reigning ones rollicking with bogus security votes to run into billions of naira!

We call on the Federal government to ensure that the 90 billion naira it is going to give to states as bail-out do not go the way the first one went. Fundamentally too, the self-sufficiency and self-sustainability of states must be developed as against the present order where the Federal government has to bail states out for their financial recklessness, mis-governance and maladministration.

 ON JOB CREATION

Following its reneging on its electoral campaign promise to pay 5, 000 naira per month to unemployed youths in the country, the Federal government has announced some initiatives targeted toward job creation like the 500, 000 graduates to be employed in a country where unemployment and under-employment rules the lives of almost 70% of its employable population. This will of course be a like a drop in an ocean if the scheme ever come to fruition.

The reality is that job creation is the outcome of your economic policies and programs. There is no such project as ‘job creation’. Job is created when the economy is growing and expanding, when opportunities are equitably distributed and can be equitably accessed; when small scale businesses can stay in business, grow, expand, become profitable and so can employ more hands; when new businesses can be set up, and the environment is enhancing of their ability to survive and grow; when labour is adequately compensated and workers welfare are enhanced making it possible for productivity to grow, for workers to save, and for workers to spend more to buy goods and services that have been produced; when the cost of doing business is not prohibitive and the ease of doing business is improved.

 THE POWER SECTOR: TIME FOR THE MINISTER OF ‘DARKNESS’ TO BE SACKED!

Topping the list as far as we are concerned in terms of abysmal performance that requires radical change in the present Federal Cabinet is the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. It is our view that the ministry has been the main one that has most misrepresented the campaign promises of APC and the change Nigerians expected. All the actions and policies of the Ministry have compounded the sufferings of Nigerians in multi-folds; from lack of power supply to the illogical hike in electricity tariffs, from continually decaying infrastructure to death traps as roads with a Housing sector that is ‘non-existent’ or in absolute comatose.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing keeps standing logic on its heads by asking the already impoverished Nigerians to bear the brunt of his failure by asking Nigerians to pay for darkness and for services not rendered even up to the effrontery of hiking the tariff of electricity against a background of a country in perpetual darkness.

The Minister has made history by achieving the lowest, ZERO, mega watts for more than 18 hours in history of power generation in Nigeria; he has nothing to offer than damage, we call on Mr. President to ask him to honourably resign or he should be sacked! The Minister is obviously overwhelmed as the tasks before him seem very daunting to him.

Mr. Adeniran is the founder Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL.

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