National leaders can learn from an examination of past records of countries that have gone through recession or difficult economic times.
On October 27, 1929, the stock market crashed plunging the United States of America into the Great Depression. That date was a Thursday and came to be called “Black Thursday.”
Just before the onset of the Great Depression, American economy was not in bad condition.
At first, economists and leaders thought it was a mild incident, a correction to the market. Hence, even a buoyant economy can suddenly turn into a recession.
The depression steadily worsened. Unemployment rose to double around 1933, according to published figures, and the Gross National Product GNP decreased.
The depression was felt worldwide. The hardest hit were the poor. The budgets of many schools were affected and they shortened both the school day and the school year.
No one knew how best to tackle the situation. Some states began firing members of their work force.
There was an emergence of homeless encampment across the country. There was widespread despair as many could not find job, some committed suicide.
Local protests were also reported, which sometimes were met with resistance that turned violent.
The United States of America is not the only country that has suffered recession. More recently, around 2008, Iceland was in deep economic problems.
That country’s biggest banks failed. Their economy shrank by some percentage. Their government failed.
Their central banker was sacked. They obtained an IMF loan and thousands took to the street in protest.
From the above records, certain lessons can be learned. Economic recession endangers the standard of living of the citizenry. Investors both foreign and local are disenchanted. It can lead to government instability.
Mexico is another country that recently faced economic difficulty.
Tourists from America and other countries had to cancel trips to Mexico due to violence related to drug trade. Poor economic growth meant that the government was running short of funds.
Nigerians are poor savers. Regular daily, weekly or monthly savings are difficult to maintain. When the rainy day comes, changes in the regular economic situation, they are difficult to bear.
Getting insured will save the situation for many but this is hardly done. Many people save their income in the bank. Some save in landed property.
In whichever way it is done, savings will help when economic emergency comes.
Some governments in Nigeria have announced measures of economic reforms. The government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari announced austerity measures.
It was succeeded by the government of Muhammadu Buhari which among other measures changed the currency notes.
Those measures brought sufferings on Nigerians. The government of General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd.), around 1988, announced Structural Adjusted Programme (S.A.P.).
During the start of his regime, the exchange rate rose to 4 Naira per dollar. It continued to about 50 Naira per dollar.
During all this period, Nigerians had to suffer economically because of inflation, instability in the value of the Naira and loss of job. A few were enriched from the sufferings of others.
Also later judicial tribunals found some former government officials guilty of embezzlement of public fund.
Nigerians can take steps to lessen their economic difficulties. At the family level, members can combine funds to achieve common objective.
Economic endeavours difficult for one person struggling alone can often be achieved by several people pulling resources together.
Similarly fellow neighbours can come together to pull resources together. To meet their objective, corruption should be eschewed.
The government can encourage them by giving aids.
During man-made and natural disasters, those who used to live luxurious life suffer the most. Many people desire and seek white collar jobs. This is often beyond the reach of many.
Those who get them should train their bodies by physical exercise and by so doing prepare for the bad days which no one can predict when and the manner it would come.
To survive as a nation, Nigerians must learn to live with and be tolerant of those of other geographical regions.
None should feel superior and for that reason or otherwise try to get the other estranged. Every regional group needs to view any natural endowment they may have as belonging to all.
They should treat others the way they would want to be treated and not use religion or other divisive tendencies to bring mayhem on others.