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Buhari, Still Nigeria Is Bleeding

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The protracted power tussle still going on in the Nigeria’s federal parliament is robbing the country and its citizens of plenty opportunities to grow. Already, so many things are going wrong while nothing positive have happened. 

The famous “body language” mantra coined to serve as proof of economic restoration under the leadership of Mr. Muhammadu Buhari is waning. A major indicator which used to be constant power supply enjoyed by some parts of Nigeria has reversed. Supply and distribution have dropped by over 1,000MW; this is according to a statement issued by the power department. 

Before now, it took the honest intervention of Mr. Buhari who admitted his government has not made any investment in the power sector to rest insinuations from some of his supporters that increased generation of power was as a result of direct efforts of the new government. 

The much talked about probes appear to have been rested because there is yet the slightest lead which shows that the government has capacity to probe any individual or institution. Suddenly, mind blowing figures are no longer being churned out recklessly. This may be because nearly every senior official of the past administration “indicted” for fraud have been offered plum jobs by major global organizations including the International Bank for Reconstruction & Development, Lazzard Bank and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC].

Recently, the NNPC have disclosed that refineries which do not function at full capacity within reasonable time may be auctioned. This is contrary to claims by government officials that the refineries have commenced producing at full capacity courtesy of Mr. Buhari’s body language. As a matter of fact, the government still engages in large scale importation of petroleum products which is offered to users at prices heavily subsidized by government. Nothing has really changed!

On the economic front, key financial indicators have warned that the Nigerian economy is heading for recession. The implication of this is that the federal government may request bail out from international organizations. Job loss percentages have tripled in the private sector. Massive job cuts have happened in the banking sector where over 6,000 jobs have been lost in 2 weeks. 

Nearly 1,000 jobs have been lost in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector. Major telecommunication companies have commenced the process of reducing operating costs; another job cut is looming there. State governments are still managing to crawl under a heavy monthly wage bill caused by a bloated workforce of mainly fraudulent and redundant civil servants unwilling to retire.

Unless these trends are curbed by strong government interventions, several Nigerians will turn job seekers with reduced bargaining and purchasing powers within the shortest possible time. They will lack powers to purchase goods and services and this will become a loss to manufacturers who may also encounter challenges meeting their financial obligations to their creditors including finance houses and other specialized institutions like the Bank of Industry.

In August 2015, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari while visiting Washington promised to name a cabinet by the end of September 2015. He broke that promise as the President of the Senate only received his list of nominees after close of work, Wednesday. The senate which is vested with powers to screen ministerial nominees is in disarray courtesy of strong forces within the same party and may not be ready for any serious business any time soon. These forces are along tribal and religious lines.

Former governor of Cross River State, Dr. Donald Duke in a chat shortly after the 2015 elections talked about some actions of the then ruling party – Peoples’ Democratic Party which amounted to an (unintended) insult on the sensibilities of Nigerians. He talked about the proliferation of private jets and also made veiled reference to ex – President Goodluck Jonathan having links to persons perceived to be guilty of acts of corruption and graft. These, the former governor said slighted Nigerians and caused them to consider voting a new government at the federal level. That is his view.

Now that the People Democratic Party have lost federal power to the All Progressives’ Congress, I must mention that the new power bearer is starting to engage in such extra ordinary businesses which are insulting the sensibilities of Nigerians and some of their supporters. There is yet a sign of direction. Economic analysts are puzzled. Even clerics and unorthodox spiritual leaders are at a loss; they cannot prophesy with certainty about the future of the country. They are afraid! 

It is an insult on the sensibility of discerning Nigerians that over 120 days after a new government is sworn in; nearly N4.5Trn in several tranches has been sunk into an economy with nothing to show in terms of output. Rewane, Bismarck leading economic analyst have lamented how two consecutive quarters of negative growth equal a recession, this is in addition to a 3.8 percent year-on-year contraction for a consecutive second quarter (Q2) in Nigeria’s manufacturing sector which accounts for 10% of GDP. 

The CBN is in a fix; its capacity to support the economy is failing. Banks are exceeding borrowing and lending limits. This is because of lack of fiscal policy. The apex bank is therefore constrained to combine its role of monetary policy formulation with that the Federal Government.

Finance experts and publishers, Ventures Africa, predicts that if Nigeria’s economy faces a recession, international trade, foreign investments and reserves will be worst hit. It therefore adds that exports will reduce as investors will decline to provide more funds. 

Unfortunately, the 2015 fiscal estimate which should normally factor and confront these challenges is on technical suspension. There is also sufficient proof to suggest that estimates for the 2016 fiscal year will not be presented for review by relevant committees of parliament. I am beginning to wonder if there will be enough time to tackle issues like significant drops in crude oil prices and other issues struggling for attention from critical sectors of the economy. 

This is not how to run a country. 

Unless Nigeria is placed back on track, we approach our doom with speed.

Ezeanic Chukwunonso Elvis


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