ONE of the major problems facing Nigeria as a country is slow-down in its economic growth. In retrospect, there have been and there are still experiences of hardship which seems to be on the increase and ascending to worrisome level.
It is also an obvious fact that economic problems facing the country are getting out of control and management. That is not to say we have to fold our hands instead of trying to survive or fix things to a workable condition. However, despite the economic quagmire facing the country, people still find means to earn a living through the hard economy and one on the other hand, might be pondering how people still manage in an economy that is watering-down to low ebb.
At global level, there have been predictions on slowdown in global economy by World Bank and International monetary Fund (IMF). The World Bank has also said that over 700 million people across the world live on less than $1.90 per day irrespective of measures to alleviate poverty.
At the national level, there are speculations that the 2019 Budget might suffer same fate which led to economic recession in 2016 because the 2019 Budget is void of what will provide cogent solution towards improving the economic status.
Nigeria being one of the oil producing countries that has other several resources that they export still strives on “borrow -and -spend” type of budget plan that one begins to ponder how other countries that don’t export or have crude oil maintain and manage their economy effectively. It is also disturbing that the country still borrows to meet the needs in its budgets.
There haven’t been any pragmatic measures to tackling or curtailing the rate at which the country lives on deficit budget. When a country borrows to tend to its budget, how about the standard of living of citizens in that country? How do they cope in such a situation?
It has been observed that both the rich, poor, young and old have shares in the poor state of the economy either directly or indirectly. Everyone has experienced a tip of economic hardship’s iceberg. Some school of thoughts also opined that there is a wide gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’.
High rate of crime, corruption, embezzlement of public funds, insecurity, unemployment and poverty are problems associated with any nation battling with poor economy.
A great number of people cannot provide three square meals in a day, not to talk of eating a balanced meal. They eat just in order to get energy to survive the next day not for its nutritional values. Some complain of devaluation of Nigeria’s currency and unnecessary hype in price of food and other basic needs.
Markets, roads and streets are filled with under aged children wearing rags, hawking for survival and even some traders (men and women), now keep late nights and stay under the rain in other to make more sales that they couldn’t make during the day.
More so, some of their customers have equally cut down their purchases due to lack of money. All these portray the poor state of living.
A commentator once said that unemployment is on the increase and has made it difficult for people to live, especially when those that have gone to serve their father’s land are roaming about in search of jobs, while some agencies or organisations that are supposed to recruit them display their adverts, insisting on five years experience, instead of encouraging on- the- job training. According to him, unemployment is a leading cause to crime and there is no progress seen.
That is why some youths are eager to travel outside the country in search of greener pastures in order to sustain their lives and that of their families. Some involve themselves in social vices that dent the image of the country thereby ending up in police net.
However, some people look out and engage in various means to survive. They also believe that government on its part, will one day come up with a workable, efficient and effective approach towards solving and managing the country’s resources for the growth of the country rather than their pockets, personal interest and otherwise.
Some youths, especially undergraduates, have engaged themselves in some self-developments like acquiring skills, entrepreneurship and menial jobs (tailoring, cake making, bead making, welding, hair making and lots more) in a bid to fit in to the society and earn a living.
In an interview with National Light, an expert in economic matters in Economics Department, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Uche Collins Nwogwugwu, posited his view on Nigeria economy.
According to him, it is an obvious fact that Nigeria’s economy is not doing well . If one begins to talk about Nigeria’s economy from outside the world, Nigeria became the poverty capital of the world dropping down from India. What it means is that people are not enabled to buy, sell or the conditions that made that possible is not working.
The condition that what government has to do to make poverty reduce is not being done. It means that all the policies of government like trader-money, which is meant to ensure that those who want to trade can trade well, are being collected by those who are not even traders and these can cause hard economy because traders who need money to trade are not getting it.
Prof. Nwogwugwu also said that” when a government is efficient, there is accountability, trust, and willingness of everybody to participate in government which is called an inclusive government.
Everybody is carried along, they know what is been done and in such manner, there will be definite directions of development along with international realm which is not present in Nigeria and there is need to build confidence to know where we are lagging”.
He went further to say that “in a democratic government, it is the onus of government to let people know what they are doing, so that they can be able to adjust their lives. Government should come nearer to the people. People don’t know or are convinced on what government do, what is it that they are doing?
Can you mark the change from one government to another or even in their policies? If government let people know what they do and carry people along, then there will be information symmetry. Government needs to carry people along and monitor its projects and programmes”.
He urged government to invest more on things that will generate revenue and utilise funds that they borrow well to be able to pay back at stipulated time to avoid accumulated debts and also, people in general should manage money that they have, live according to their scale of needs,
know what is really necessarily at a point before they spend, reduce their demands, don’t be a liability, plan for future, see if there are other ways to make money(survival strategy) and also, seek assistance, encouragement from relevant ministries or organs of governments who are saddled with such responsibilities.
“People should not fold their hands. They should take advantages of opportunities. Little things can translate to money and can make a living. They should identify needs around them, solve them to get income but government can provide means but when they don’t do that, people can engage in one thing or the other.
Of recent, you see barbing salon and vulcanizing business sprouting up. Also, I have seen some of my students who are painters and some sew clothes, which are quite encouraging,” he said.
In a survey to ascertain how people react to daily hustle and bustle of surviving in hardship, a trader who sells clothing was seen relaxing and looking so stressed. According to her, “I just came back from Onitsha Main Market, where I do buy my goods in wholesale to sell here in Awka.
It has been a very hectic day for me and I am so tired and not able to talk for now,” she said going back to her former position.
Gift Offorbuike, a private school teacher who owns a hair salon around Amawbia said that she combined the business with her teaching job to be able to provide and support her family. According to her, she goes to the shop every day after school hours and on Saturdays and Sundays after church service.
In her words, “I can’t fold my hands and starve. I combine the money I earn as a teacher and from my hair salon to take care of my needs and family; things are very tough and difficult in Nigeria. I don’t know what is happening.
What we used to buy for N200 before, when you go to the market the next day, you discover that it is now N500 or N700 and these increases day by day. There is no means of it coming in as you spend. The little that you have, you find out that it will not cover your entire budget because prices of things, especially foodstuff keep increasing than what it used to be.
I think it is touching everybody, especially the poor but notwithstanding, there are people who within few months, have built three storey buildings, even as others are complaining. I don’t know how and where they get such money. Poor people are the ones suffering most. Even to eat proper meal becomes very difficult for them”.
For Edwin Nweke, a graduate of Computer Science, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, “suffering in Nigeria is like a heritage. Instead of doing nothing, I am driving ‘keke Napep’ and doing Disco Jockey (DJ) job to survive because there is no job to survive due to unemployment and hardship.
There are outcries of some individual on retarding of their sources of income. A bus driver, Lawrence Nweke-Ngene, who was seen around Permanent Site, Government House, Awka, while on duty, lamented over how things are getting worst as days go by in terms of hardship.
He also complained about reduction of passengers which makes the business less profitable. In his words, “I sustain my family through my driving business but still, it is not enough. We are trying and hoping that it will get better. I don’t understand what the government is doing about it.
Even in my driving business; it is not as before when I make more profit. The money I make is not enough to take care of my family- feed, pay school fees, pay house rent and other needs of the family. As I speak,I borrowed #100, 000 to support them in school and there is no means of paying back because I’m not sure of my daily income”.
A civil servant, Blessing Ogbalu, said, “our country is blessed with so many natural resources, not just oil. So we need to invest more on all those natural resources, so that we can produce them in larger quantity and be exporting them. More so, Nigeria currency has no value again.
You will go to market to buy something and come back empty handed and you will be wondering whether you lost the money on the way. There are fake products everywhere, inadequate infrastructure and no resources that should go directly to people hands.
You hear one programme or the other for the betterment of the society but you can’t see it physically”. She also added that the hardship in the country is caused by political instability, issues like income inequality, ethnic conflict, religious issues, corruption and the worst of it is insecurity; people live in fear daily.
She also said that it was advisable for one not to stay in one place or stick to one source of income. “Everybody should find something doing in order to survive. I use Ankara to do notebook for souvenirs, bow tie and hair pins as an extra means of generating income.
Ogbalu while commending the state government for paying of salary as at when due, also pleaded on the government to employ more hands and also to address the issue of implementing minimum wage of workers. She went further to urge those in authority to wake up in their responsibilities by doing the right things.
“Government should please work on creating more job opportunities not only for graduates but also for those people who have zeal to work and encourage young entrepreneurs. Government should also try and work with trade unions and those in charge to cut down cost so that people will be able to afford them.
They should monitor all those projects and programmes that they mapped out and make sure that the people they assign those works to actually achieve them; having also at the back of their minds that those poor masses voted them in with trust. So they need to prove that they are equal to the task.”