An Economy in the Doldrums

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By Timothy Paul Okorocha

Nigeria has been assailed with worse successive administrations, that the previous ones are always deemed better than the current. Judging from the state of the economy, the political suspicion, amongst the rank and file, there is an established fact that all is not well for the country.
Since the ascension to power of the Tinubu administration, the economic indices seemed to have dipped, rendering everyone almost poor in a country that prides herself as an oil producer and the sixth biggest oil producer, according to OPEC ranking.
The rather shoddy and unprepared fall-out arising from the removal of oil subsidy remains the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Reverberating from the pronouncement of the President on his inauguration day that oil subsidy is gone, the nation received it with mixed feelings, not knowing immediately the negative effects therein.
Two months down the line, the purchasing power of an average Nigerian has been destroyed, with prices of commodities going up the roof. With no end in sight, the so called deregulation of the petroleum industry never seemed to have helped matters much.
Initially, during the debates for and against the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) Act, Nigerians were made to understand that apart from the regulation helping to develop the oil Industry and communities, it will also have positive effect on reducing the price of petrol, making it affordable to Nigerians.
Years after the Bill was passed and approved, it is still debatable whether it is achieving any of its set objectives. At the moment, so many people are divided over whether the oil resource is a blessing or a curse to the country.
Since the pronouncement of subsidy removal, the life of an average Nigerian has not remained the same. With the unemployment numbers going astronomical, and with no regulation in the pump price, the nation has found herself at the crossroads.
At the moment a pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in Lagos remains the cheapest in the country standing at N568/570. In the East you can buy a liter for an average of N650 while in the upper North, same product sells for upward of N800.
The result of this obnoxious policy is that transport fare has jumped, airfare is a no-go area, while food stuffs prices have more than doubled. Worse of it all is that government is bereft of any idea yet on how to address this ugly development. The planned palliatives falls flat of anything meaningful as the recommended N8000 to be given to ‘poor’ Nigerians is still shrouded in mystery as no one is sure that such money will really get to the poor as was the case with the Buhari distribution of N10,000 to market women, a practice which is still been probed as many Nigerians wrote it off, hence the programme had no authentic register to know the actual beneficiaries.
Our country men and women have therefore, taken their destiny in their own hands as there is no reliable policy that can bring them out of the woods in the nearest future. The depreciating value of the naira is another criminal act which has defied all economic solutions, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not helping matters either.
At the moment, the naira is trading at close to N950/$1 |(USD), and it may not be out of place to project that it may run beyond N1000 to $1 by December this year. CBN’s floating policy for the naira has not helped much, as the nation’s currency is now one of the most devalued in the African sub-region.
The regulatory bank has fingered racketeering and the activities of Black market operators as major causes of the naira free fall. But like most economists say, until we start producing for exports and earn foreign exchange, our problem may be far from over.
Just like President Tinubu has often stated, that he applied for this job and that there was no reason to fail or for anyone to pity him, he therefore, has the onerous task to turn things around for posterity to be kind to his memory.

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