By Sonny Iroche
What we refer to as palliative to cushion the effects of harsh economic conditions in Nigeria, could be coterminous to social security and welfare in other climes. The government must come up with a more seamless, efficient and effective deployment of social succors to the unemployed and citizens that are mostly affected by our sudden resolve as a people to finally come to terms that we have to correct and pay for our past profligacy.
This, the government must depart from the usual practice of just throwing money to the people and come up with more creative initiatives that would honestly address the suffering of the people in a most honorable and transparent way. Not like the discredited initiatives of the past that were dogged by allegations of diversion of funds and corruption
Whilst the government has taken the right decisions that have so far defined the early days of Tinubunomics- market-driven economic policies and life changing reforms, huge sacrifices have to be made by all Nigerians, irrespective of social status or office. We cannot have a different set of rules for the long-suffering Nigerians and the parasitic elect, and the ruling class. If we are all called to make sacrifices under the prevailing high cost of living and stagflation, then it must cut across boards.
A situation where some politicians and government officials continue to live large and carry on as if nothing has changed in Nigeria, whilst calling on the poor to tighten their belts, is not only outrageous but, inhumane and dangerous for the peace and progress of the country. To get the Nigerian economy up and going again in the right trajectory would demand that we all, (not some) brace up to the reality of a bankrupt and economically comatose country, currently in intensive care unit (ICU), that needs all the medication for revival and resuscitation.
To achieve this, requires extreme life style changes, monetary and fiscal discipline, both at the national and sub national levels.
On the palliatives: the distribution and administration should by decentralized to the 36 states and down to the 774 Local Government Areas. In doing this, the central government should lay down the modalities and set out minimum standards and criteria for operationalizing the initiative, along, Short, Medium to Long Term hardship amelioration plan.
Nigeria public and private sector leadership, must lead by example, so that the citizens would follow in the examples already set by their leaders.
Drastically reduce the size, and cost of both the state and federal governments.
On the short term: the FGN and the state governments, apart from reducing the size of government, must come clean with tax payers to reveal the much secretive total emolument of members of the State and National Assemblies, in line with the Freedom of information Act.
And to address the impact of the astronomical high cost of petrol and other fuels on the economy, and General cost of living, governments should resuscitate their states buses, boats and other transportation systems for mass transit with the benefit of economies of scale on transport cost
Then on the medium to long term, in order to resuscitate Nigeria’s challenging economic situation and address the negative impacts of corruption, crude oil theft, insufficient foreign currency, lack of investment in infrastructure, and low foreign direct investments, the Tinubu government should be, if not already considering taking the following steps:
- Tackle corruption: Implement strong anti-corruption measures, including the establishment of an independent anti-corruption agency, strict enforcement of existing laws, and prosecution of corrupt officials. This will help restore confidence in the government and attract foreign investments.
- Diversify the economy: Reduce dependence on oil by promoting and supporting other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and technology. This will create employment opportunities, increase revenue streams, and reduce the vulnerability to oil price fluctuations.
- Improve infrastructure: Increase investment in infrastructure development, including roads, railways, ports, and power supply. This will enhance connectivity, reduce transportation costs, and attract both local and foreign investments.
- Encourage foreign direct investment (FDI): Create a conducive business environment by simplifying bureaucratic processes, reducing red tape, and providing incentives for foreign investors. This can be done through tax breaks, investment guarantees, and streamlined regulations.
- Enhance security: Address the issue of crude oil theft by improving security measures, increasing surveillance, and cracking down on illegal oil bunkering activities. This will protect Nigeria’s oil resources and increase revenue for the government.
- Promote education and skill development: Invest in education and vocational training to develop a skilled workforce that can contribute to economic growth and attract foreign investments. This will also help reduce unemployment and poverty rates.
- Strengthen institutions: Reform and strengthen key institutions such as the judiciary, police, and regulatory bodies to ensure transparency, accountability, and the rule of law. This will create a level playing field for businesses and investors.
- Foster regional and international partnerships: Engage in regional and international collaborations to attract investments, access new markets, and benefit from technical expertise. This can be done through trade agreements, partnerships with multinational organizations, and participation in regional economic integration initiatives.
- Promote entrepreneurship and innovation: Create an enabling environment for startups and small businesses by providing access to finance, mentorship programs, and business development support. This will stimulate economic growth, job creation, and innovation.
- Improve social welfare: Implement social welfare programs to alleviate poverty, improve healthcare, and provide basic amenities to the population. This will enhance the standard of living and create a more inclusive economy.
It is important to note that these steps require a long-term commitment and sustained efforts from the government, as well as collaboration with various stakeholders including the private sector, civil society, and international partners.
Sonny Iroche is a 2022-2023 Senior Academic Fellow at the African Studies Centre of the University of Oxford. UK