WRITTEN BY ROC
This is a topic now on the lips of many Nigerians. Here are my views.
There are only two aspects to this issue: The problems and solutions.
The saying, “Desperate times, desperate measures” isn’t new to people, but it doesn’t mean many practice it. At least, I know a particular set of people you’ll find anywhere in the world who don’t practise this. They’re called the ‘presumptuous’ – those who sit and fold their arms, waiting for things to magically or mysteriously fall into place. It’s unfortunate our dear country, Nigeria, is deeply plagued with this. In this part of the world, one major thing we use to cover our laziness is religion. For example, when there’s a problem even in our homes, most times, instead of us working to sort it out, we just pray (or we don’t) and say we have faith that God will help us. That’s the highest way we exhale presumption. Bible even states that, “Faith without works is useless.” So, faith is only useful when you back it with works, especially physical works.
Presumption makes one prioritize wrongly. Wrong prioritization leads to reckless spending (not just money). Reckless spending births lack. Lack results in scouting. For the fortunate, scouting brings fortune. For those who don’t learn from their mistakes (and many don’t), fortune stirs up presumption in them again. They think, “Since there’s more fortune from where that came from, why not enjoy myself?” So, obviously, the cycle continues, until he/she changes. Presumption can ruin a life, nation and the world, but Nigeria is still handling presumption presumptuously. We need to replace presumption with prudence.
Statistics show that of African countries that consume alcohol excessively Nigeria is the first. In times like ours, other countries will cut down on having elaborate parties, due to the hike in prices of drinks, food, halls etc. But in Nigeria, now way! That’s when the parties even increase. Do you know that parties have now increased by 20%? So one begins to wonder if it’s that we’re normally reckless spenders or we like to be who we’re not or both. Maybe both. The Nigerian elite will do everything possible not to be seen to be having challenges, so they pay expensively to live a lie. What a shame. We’re in a very peculiar paradox. Guess what again? Traveling has increased by 30%. These just show how prudent we’re in Jesus name (so as not to speak negatively).
The adage, “Cut your cloth according to size” is what we’ve always known. However, in times like this, it’s better said to “Cut your cloth according to the material you have”. Let’s stop trying to be like the Jones’. In my book, LEONARD Leads, I told the story of how my family and I managed for 7 years in very harsh financial times. As a nation, we can manage during this period too. I mean, if we could survive Ebola, we can survive anything.
Still part of our problem is we import everything. A country that doesn’t have more than one thing to export, is in danger. The major thing we’ve been exporting is crude oil and when the price of crude oil crashed, our nakedness was revealed. Yoruba saying goes, “Afefe ti fe. Ati ri ifuru adiye.” Meaning the wind has blown, now we’ve seen the anus of the chicken. Ghana, just beside us, has their own fabric which they export. They also export cocoa. What happened to our cocoa? I listened to the Ooni of Ife on TV when he visited Mr. President. He said, “When the price of crude oil crashed, the price of cocoa increased and we didn’t notice.” How would the parties and industries involved in growing the economy notice, when they were focusing on oil? I mean, we used to export our Nigerian goods before like cotton and cocoa, but since the then Government in charge wanted quick money, they relied on crude oil instead. Only if we’re patient, we would have reaped the fruit of our labour.
I’ve noticed we’re a country that revels in titles and big name, which is one reason we respect certificates so much that many talented minds have been deprived jobs. We’ve always loved being in charge: ‘Big Brother’ (just counting age), ‘Nigeria has the highest GDP in Africa’ (how has that helped the Naira now or the ordinary citizen?), ‘Nigeria declared Ebola-Free’ (yet cannot handle common Lassa fever) etc. Our reverence for titles has made us forget that titles come with responsibility. When you misuse a title, you lose it and not long after, you find out that you are the only one who remembers you had or have that title – meaning you’re the only one blowing your trumpet. Little wonder certain African countries who once referred to us as ‘Big Brother’ don’t any longer. They’ve superseded us and we’re the ones going to them. So, who’s the ‘Big Brother’ now?
Finally, under this aspect, we must stop contradicting ourselves, especially government workers. Why would a former Governor build a state-of-the-art hospital and when he was involved in a motor accident, he was flown abroad?
Despite the fact that I’m not an Economist, thanks to just using common sense and the wisdom of God, I’ve been able evaluate the many solutions I’ve heard and bring out some cogent, constructive and realistic ones. You might have come across them too, but I kindly crave your indulgence to still keenly focus on them, so as to begin implementation in whatever way you can today, not tomorrow:
- In a discussion with a friend, concerning this issue, she said, “Preventing the Dollar from being easily accessible hasn’t helped the value of the Naira, but the opposite. Why not make it accessible and let those who want to buy, buy it. You’ll see that the Naira will fall by itself. This is very inconveniencing. Why must we suffer for what we didn’t cause?” I admire the President’s courage not to devalue the Naira. Unless there are clear benefits of devaluing the Naira, we shouldn’t entertain the suggestion. Devaluing the Naira will just further complicate things.
During another discussion, the person I was discussion with said, “Nigeria’s economy is peculiar and delicate. Therefore, it must be handled carefully. Solutions that worked for other countries may not work for Nigeria.” As long as we don’t devalue our currency, there’s still hope of survival for the Naira and Nigeria.
- Ben Murray Bruce’s #BuyNaijaToGrowTheNaira campaign is something I’m in support of. I also give kudos to Mr. Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors. However, whilst I encourage and support buying made in Nigeria goods, we must tell ourselves this one truth: Unless Nigerian traders, manufacturers, business men/women etc. deal with cheating and lack of thoroughness/excellence, it’ll be difficult to sustain buying made in Nigeria things. An example of a substandard product, with all due respect, is the Innoson buses. I don’t know if they’ve improved now, but as at a few months ago, someone close to me mentioned that she saw one of the Innoson buses plying the road and she was very impressed with the exterior look of the bus. However, the next time she’ll see another Innoson bus it was rusted all over. Now, either antirust was not used adequately or substandard products were used. Whichever, it’s not a good enough excuse. Ford now has their plant in Nigeria and quite a number of foreign car manufacturers have also shown interest in doing same. So, if we don’t wake up now, we might very soon become slaves in our own country, I say God forbid, but work we must. Well, I’m hoping that just as Ebola pushed Nigerians to be hygiene conscious, the increase of the Naira to the Dollar will push us to be honest and thorough.
In addition, we ourselves need to value our currency by using it more than the Dollar or any other currency. Most, if not all Hotels in Nigeria that do transactions in dollar should stop and begin trading in Naira. You’re in Nigeria, not America. Anyone who wants to patronize you, must patronize your currency as well. Charging for hotel rooms in Dollar doesn’t make your hotel any better than other hotels that charge in Naira. On the contrary, it makes you an outsider. As a matter of fact, I’ll suggest, that if it’s possible, these hotels should either be sanctioned or closed down if they don’t stop trading in Dollar.
- We need to improve our tourist destinations like the famous Obudu Cattle Ranch. Foreigners that have been there recently, have complained about the irregularity of light, mosquitoes, faulty generator, dilapidated structures etc. We sincerely need a maintenance culture in this country.
In closing, the typical human nature is to let his/her guard down when the coast is clear. Please, let us not solve this problem because we want it to go. Let’s solve this problem because we want Nigeria to grow. Having the latter mentality will help us focus on the long term, rather than short term. Remember to do the most you can wherever you’re to grow Nigeria. NIGERIA NEEDS YOU AND ME. NIGERIA NEEDS US.
Thank you for reading. God bless you. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.