FEATURE: Nigerian conditions worsen by economic hardship, maladministration
By Oludare Mayowa
“The country needs a complete overhaul of the government structures, the process of recruiting leaders and economic managers to free the country from bad leadership and mismanagements across the board.”
Nigerians are being squeezed on all sides by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic induced economic hardship as the local currency continues to depreciate while the inflation rate rising faster than projections with little support seen from the government to ameliorate the situations.
The reports coming from the private sector are not cheering as many companies are downsizing their workforce while some have embarked on salary cuts of up 40 percent or even more in order to remain in business. Some of the companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) have reported lower returns on investment in the period of the lockdown introduced by the government to contain the spread of the virus. This showed that more companies are taking the hit from the ravaging effects of the dreaded disease on the economy and change in social behaviours.
One of the country’s surviving domestic airline operators, Air Peace had in the week announced the sack of over 100 pilots and engineers, including some other levels of employees as parts of measures to stay afloat.
Those who are not laid off by the company are expected to take pay cut of nothing less than 40 percent in some cases as part of the conditions to remain on the company’s payroll.
Before the Air Peace announcement of changes in its workforces, Medview Air had told its shareholders two weeks ago of its plans to sell two of its aircraft to enable it to pay back part of its debts and possibly revive its operation which was suspended last year.
The company is yet to announce measures to sustain its operations going forward after sales of the aircraft.
However, observers of the aviation industry said many operators within the sector are bound to restructure their operations, including embarking on staff rationalizations and pay cut to enable them survive the impact of Covid-19 disruption on their operations.
Besides the aviation industry, some banks have already adopted measures to cut costs and reduce the size of staff and wages in the sector. Most of the contract staff in some commercial lenders have been sent home because the banks were equally looking for ways to reduce operational costs remain in business.
The government recently lay off some beneficiaries of its N-Power scheme, which provides temporary employment for graduates. The bottom line is that the job market has swell since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the attendant economic downturn.
As more people are losing their jobs, so also is the impact of the rapid increase in prices of goods and services across the country continued to erode the living standard of many Nigerians.
The Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) on Monday announced a fresh hike in the pump prices of fuel as a result of the recent recovery in the global crude oil prices and in line with the government deregulation policy in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
The increase in pump prices of petrol will surely translate to multiple effects on transportation fare, food prices increase and chain reactions in the other sectors of the economy.
Unlike what is obtained in other climes, where their government offers citizens unemployment palliatives cheques and reduces the burden of the economic hardship through various measures, in Nigeria, citizens are being squeezed on all sides thereby increasing the burden of survival during the pandemic, which has caused untold hardship on the masses.
The power distribution companies recently delayed the planned to hike electricity tariff following the intervention of the National Assembly in spite of the epileptic power supply in the country and the attendant negative effect of productivities.
Also, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has continued to push hard the implementation of both the Value Added Tax (VAT), which was jerked up to 7.5 percent from 5 percent this year and stamp duty in a bid to increase revenue generation by the government.
In all of these, the political class and the elite are aloof to the suffering of ordinary citizens as they have declined to identify with them in any form apart from the tokenism offered in form of palliatives by some corporate and some agencies of government to less than 5 percent of the population.
The political office holders continue to hold on to their bounty in terms of huge wages and allowances that are not commensurate with their output and reflective of the nation’s economic conditions.
The news from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and other government agencies shown that public funds are being deployed recklessly by those saddled with the management of the resources with no recourse to probity and transparency.
Rather than the government to slash the cost of governance by reducing overhead and other pecks of office, the federal government embarked on borrowing binge to enable it raise the budget size.
The government revised this year’s budget upward from N10.59 trillion to N10.98 trillion with more than half of the spending estimate to come from borrowing from both domestic and external sources.
Though analysts said the increased spending by the government was aimed at ameliorating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and the people, the truth is that the bulk of the estimated expenditures are going to fund the bloated cost of governance and corruption laden agencies.
To add more to the economic pang being faced by many Nigerians, insecurity in the northeast, centre, and even the southern part of the country continue to give cause for concern while the government seems to be helpless in finding solutions to the escalating threat to lives and property across the country.
Many people are being killed daily by herdsmen, bandits and Boko Haram jihadists, while ethnic cleansen is going on unchecked in the southern Kaduna with security agents seemingly helpless to stop it.
Kidnapping also ranges on in the southern part of the country unabated, further adding to the troubles of many Nigerians.
The summary of the happenings in the country today is an indication of a total breakdown of law and order and the absence of a good and responsive government in place.
There is a need for the total restructuring of the country beyond the political restructuring being canvassed by politicians.
The country needs a complete overhaul of the government structures, the process of recruiting leaders and economic managers to free the country from bad leadership and mismanagements across the board.
Something needs to be done to change the direction the country is currently heading, otherwise, the ship of the nation will soon capsize and the destiny of millions of Nigerians ruined.#GFD