As Nigeria Grapples With Economic Recession…
Nigeria needs a new
economic activity of the time that would create a need for the country to be reinvented. There is currently problem of hunger and poverty in the country and if the government does not rise immediately to address the problem, we are going to have a proletarian revolution. The government must use all available economic and financial tools to counter the slumped national economy.
The recession as declared by the Federal Government is not going down well with Nigerians and has continued to draw reactions from several strata of the country.
The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) in its reaction urged the Federal Government to create viable economic policy or motivate plan to stimulate growth.
The Chamber’s President, Mr. Tom Ejinkenonye in an interview with newsmen in Abuja, stressed the need for government to act urgently to create a valuable economic motivation plan to stimulate growth, saying that without a stimulus of adequate scale and proper management, the economic situation would be more precarious than its current state. According to Ejinkeonye, this is really not a good time for the country as economic recession has led to unemployment, lower wages and incomes as well as lost opportunities, and retrenchment of workers, and so on.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had released a report on country’s Gross Domestic product (GDP) which stood at -2.06 percent in the second quarter of 2016. “The NBS report shows that the recent -2.6 percent (year-on-year) in real terms was lower by 1.70 percent points from the growth rate of 0.36 per cent recorded in the preceding quarters. And also lower by 4.41 percent points from the growth rate of 2.35 percent recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2015”.
In his reaction, former civilian governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said Nigerians are going through the most difficult moment in the history of the country with many people dying of hunger. “As we are all witnessing in the country at the moment, people are finding it difficult to feed coupled with other attendant problems like human rights violations. Nigeria may be heading for a proletarian revolution”, Musa insisted that what is happening in the country at the moment is not different from those countries that experienced revolution. “My advise for this government is to rise up quickly and do something before the situation gets out of hand”.
“When you are asking people to be patient, it means you are doing something to address the problem, a mother can only tell the child that is hungry to exercise patience for so and so time because the food is already being cooked. The rate of hunger and poverty in the country is unparalled and the present government must not gloss over the problem”, Musa declared, saying that the problem has gone beyond the constitution of a strong economic team as suggested by some people.
“I don’t believe it is the problem of strong economic team. The problem has to do with the system that controls all developments in the country”, he said, stressing that as long as the value system revolves round personal rather than public interest, the development of the economy would be stagnated. “We are talking of the fall in the value of Naira because we are not producing anything but I can tell you that some people are benefiting from the present situation, which is to show you the level the country has degenerated and advised Mr. President to listen only to the counsel of those who have genuine concern for the development of the country.
“I have discovered that a lot of people in this country are more interested in their personal agenda than public interest”.
Spokesperson of Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-cultural organization, Yinka Odumakin, said many people are committing suicide because they cannot feed and take care of their families.
He said, “It is obvious that things are getting out of hand with rampant cases of suicide in the country. Many are getting to the last of their strength and when it continues like that, you don’t know what would happen”.
Odumakin urged the Federal Government to address the matter before it gets out of control, adding “it is high time the leadership of this country addresses the matter before it gets out of hand. As things stand now both the middle class and the poor people are finding it difficult”.
Also reacting to the recession, President of Pillar of Associations, the umbrella body of all registered trade unions/associations, Port Harcourt, Comrade Emeka Onyekwum said, “we must tell ourselves the truth. A lot of things have gone wrong. We need to start from the foundation.
According to Onyekwum, before the exploration of oil, Nigeria was doing well with its abundant mineral resources, cocoa, palm oil as well as iron ore, including other agricultural products, stressing the need for government to encourage the informal sector which include manufacturers and entrepreneurs whom he said are key to any nation’s economic growth. He noted that government has the obligation to ensure regular and steady power supply, provide soft loans for farmers and entrepreneurs and grant them tax waivers to increase productivity and generate employment for the youth”.
He opined that if jobs were available in the country, youths would have not involved in militancy, kidnapping and other criminal activities and urged the federal government to engage the Niger Delta Avengers and the Fulani herdsmen in dialogue and provision of cattle and cow ranches. The association boss further stressed the need to put more money in circulation with the bank of Industry (Boi) playing a major role in giving loans.
“When all the money is stocked in one place without circulating, people will run short of funds and poverty and hunger will be on the increase. TSA is not an issue”.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute a team of economists that can formulate stronger and functional policy that can grow the economy while making sure he acts on genuine advice and suggestions. By so doing, Onyekwum said, Nigeria would make a headway.
“Those who give good advice and suggestions should not be withhunted. The economic problem of this country is not a party issue but a matter of good leadership. Nigeria is a great country that needs good leaders”, he said, pointing out that Nigerians have been patient and giving government time but may run out of patience if nothing is done to salvage the economy.
A former All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in Benue State, Nath Apir said Nigerians are currently regretting voting President Muhammadu Buhari at the last general elections. Apir while reacting to the declaration by the National Bureau of Statistics that the nation’s economy has gone into recession, lamented that APC-led Federal Government has failed to do the needful to sustain the level of economic growth recorded by the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan-led administration. According to him, Nigeria’s economy was performing above average during the last administration, pointing out that it took president Buhari six months to appoint ministers in a country which was rated by the World Bank and the International Monetary fund (IMF) as Africa’s largest and number one economy.
Apir complained that Nigeria is in shambles, adding that the people can hardly feed and that the naira has crashed to over N400 to the dollar. He said that the present administration talks of recovering money from looters but Nigerians have not seen where the revered monies have gone to. “he has just aggravated our economic situation in the country. Six months, no minister and the country is drifting and has not recovered till today. Buhari has brought us to this level. Nigerians are regretting voting Buhari, that is the truth. All his policies had been anti-corruption. By the time he came in as military ruler in 1983, we resorted to the purchasing of essential commodities. We are back to that vicious circle. We are back to anti-corruption war without real economic policies”, Apir lamented. He said Buhari has no solution to the economic crisis, noting that the experience of finance minister is low, “the president cannot assembly a group of yes sir people and expect good results because there is no one to challenge him”.
In an open letter to Buhari, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) requested him to “use your good offices and leadership to urgently take concrete measures to address and mitigate the negative effects of the economic recession and crisis on the poorest and most marginalised across the country. The letter dated September 2, 2016, and signed by SERAP’s Senior Staff Counsel, Timothy Adewale expressed concern that the economic crisis is having disproportionate impacts on the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable because they already suffer from years of corruption, underdevelopment and abuse of power”, and urged Mr. President to urgently provide the socially and economically vulnerable with social protection programmes and safety nets, protect them from severe poverty and deprivation.
An economist, Dr. Aminu Usman and lecturer, Department of Economics, Kaduna State university, advised the Federal Government to come up with ingenious policies to help the country out of the conomic recession, saying government should come up with political policies that would help the ordinary people and to jump-start the economy. Inflation and unemployment rates are running wild at 17.1 percent and 13.3 percent respectively.
The President, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, stated that though there is growing cases of hunger and poverty, there are no indices to suggest that the problem would end very soon. Fielding a question on whether the present situation may snow-ball into revolution, Uwazuruike said, “In the world today, it is difficult for anybody to predict what would happen the next moment. There is hunger and poverty in the country, whether it would lead to revolution is what I cannot predict”.
However, Lagos State chapter of All Progressives congress (APC) dismissed the possibility of social unrest as a result of the present economic situation. According to the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the party in Lagos, the thought of a social unrest does not make any sense, assuring with confidence that the present economic downturn that has brought hardship on the people would be over and advised the people to continue to show support to the government.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advised the Federal Government to rely on indigenous economists to generate the necessary ideas and policies that will bring out the country from the present economic recession. The congress through its National President, Ayuba Wabba said the present situation requires our experts to fashion out how best the economy can be revamped.
NBA former President, Olisa Agbakoba in his view said that Nigeria can get out of the recession if better economic policy is put in place. “Only a massive bounce of the economy can bring Nigeria out of the recession. Give loans to manufacturers and not the big cabals. Government should change its monetary policies. TSA issue is minor, the finance sector is the problem of our economy because money is stocked in the banks not allowing increased spending.
President Buhari, however, reassured Nigerians that the recession will be over soon and promised to make Nigeria great again. A programme “change begins with me’ has been launched.
Gender Equality And Path To Sustainable Development Goals
Disparities between women and men with regards to access to and control of economic resources and political power constitute a hindrance to bridging gender equality gaps.
As the gender variable enters the sustainable development equation, attention is now drawn to creating a better understanding of the role of gender equality and equity in poverty alleviation and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It is pertinent to advance that gender equality agitation does not ignore the biological differences between men and women especially as regards reproductive roles.
Rather, it helps to appreciate the uniqueness of each gender group and the importance of bringing the different needs and priorities of both women and men into development plans.
According to the Gender Snapshot 2022 Report by UN women and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), at the current rate it will take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality, one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The report further reveals how gender disparities are worsening due to COVID-19 pandemic, violence, climate change and backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health rights.
It said these factors will make it difficult for many countries to meet SDG number 5 by 2030 deadline. SDG number 5 seeks to achieve gender equity and empowerment of women and girls.
The report highlighted the need for cooperation, partnership and investment to put the world back on track towards achieving the goal.
“Without swift action, legal systems that do not ban violence against women, or protect their rights in marriage and family, may continue to exist for generations to come”, it said.
Some stakeholders have advocated increased gender response in budgeting to promote awareness, equity and equality as part of the measures to close the widening gaps.
They said there is the need to ensure that women and men are free to develop their full potential and are able to make choices without restrictive gender roles.
Mrs Felicia Onibun, National Coordinator, 100 Women Lobby Group, at a workshop on Gender Responsive Budgeting Framework in Abuja, highlighted the need for a gender budgeting that is inclusive and captures women, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and all vulnerable people.
“Budgeting for gender response is important because women’s needs are different from men’s need. What a woman needs to achieve her goal is different from what a man needs”, she said.
Similarly Mrs Tayo Erinle, Executive Director, Talitha Cumi Foundation, said increased gender budgeting and budget performance will address discrimination, bias and other forms of violence against women and children.
Therefore, women and men’s need and interests are to be equally valued and protected if any nation is to achieve sustainable development.
Countries with wide gender gaps are found to exhibit poor indicators of growth like poor nutrition, high maternal and infant mortality rates, poverty, low life expectancy, low level of education and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
A major concern in many African countries is the continued low representation of women at all levels of governance and economic negotiations, especially at grassroots level.
A gender activist, Chinonso Okechukwu, at a recent media forum in Lagos said this anomaly must be addressed for any meaningful development to take place.
Okechukwu, the Focal Person of Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF), decried the low female representation and participation in the public service and politics in Nigeria.
According to her the national average of women’s political participation has remained at 6.7 per cent in elective and appointive positions, a figure she said was not good enough
Women and men’s voices must be heard in all areas of development, including climate change, poverty and drafting of strategies and programmes for sustainable development.
Experts say governance must be gender-sensitive for it to be equitable, sustainable and effective.
Prof. Joy Ezeilo, the Founder of Women of Aid Collective (WACOL), an NGO, also frowns at the dismal participation of women in politics, saying many of them have continued to be disenfranchised.
“And there is no way we can make claims to sustainable development without full participation of women in governance and indeed in all sectors including economy,’’ she was quoted by the media as saying.
According to her because of the ‘mercantile politics‘ practiced in Nigeria most women cannot afford to venture into politics and be part of decision making and implementation processes.
“Sometimes women economic status also affects their political careers,’’ she said.
The Church And A New Hope For Nigeria
When a famous French statesman and writer,Alexis de Tocqueville,visited the United States of America not too long after its revolutionary independence from the colonial English power, he discovered a pleasant serenity that was present all over the vast land. He said he sought the answer everywhere, schools, offices, government institutions etc. After a diligent search, he got nowhere near resolving the puzzle.
Finally, the European wrote: ‘’I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbours, her ample rivers, her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich higher learning and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic congress and her matchless constitution and it was not there. Not until I went to the Churches of America did I understand the secret of her genius and power.’’ Tocqueville said the prosperity of the United States at the time of his trip in the first half of the 19thCentury was due to the reliance of the citizens and their leaders on the messages of their Church leaders.
He was not speaking of a US version of Christian theocracy. He was simply saying that although the Americans ran a secular system with human beings and their business, administrative, educational and economic organs fully in place, they still allowed room for the messengers of God to guide them. In other words, the people were not overwhelmed and distracted by physical pursuits to satisfy physical needs. They sought the balance commanded by Jesus Christ: man must not live by bread alone, but by every word that flows from God.
Man is in grave danger if he dwells on materialism to the utter neglect of the spiritual. This is the point repeatedly made by Pastor William FolorunsoKumuyi, the General Superintendent (GS) of Deeper Christian Life Ministry, DCLM, as he mounts the rostrum to preach at his now well-received world-wide revival programmes called Global Crusade with Kumuyi, GCK. Being an unrepentant servant of Heaven determined to heed the call of God to preach only the truth that frees man from bondage, Kumuyi has been noted to do just that over the decades.
So, when in October 2021, Kumuyi’s GCK train arrived in Port Harcourt, capital of Nigeria’s South-South Rivers State, no one doubted that he brought a message amounting to a full-orbed teaching to humanity. Like the Frenchman Tocqueville, Kumuyi showed that true and lasting prosperity goes beyond material wealth and riches, plenty of which Rivers State, through its oil resources could boast of. But the point is not to trust in the gift of this abundance. Instead, the Lord wants man to honour the Giver of these riches more. That, according to Kumuyi, is the non-negotiable demand from Heaven to trigger more blessings.
So, coming with the theme, Showers of Blessingsthrough Christ, the cleric said that all humanity was truly promised the goodness of their Creator. Starting with God’s famous proclamation in the Bible in Ezekiel 34:26 where He prophesizes ‘’showers of blessing’’, Kumuyi said man should go deeper than thinking of these showers only in terms of material possessions. He spoke of a transcendent possession, namely salvation of the soul, which, according to him, opens up fuller and more meaningful relationship with Heaven, the headquarters and home of all good and lasting riches.
In effect, the revered evangelist was taking his audience back to the spiritual grundnorm enunciated by Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:33: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
This is the message the whole materialistic world needs. But let’s start with Port Harcourt, capital of wealthy oil-soaked Rivers State. Its people must not be spiritually complacent, feeling self-sufficient, not conscious of a missing factor, because they have some showers of blessings already. Pastor Kumuyi said he brought the crusade to Port Harcourt to open the eyes of the people to see more depths of blessings. He told them that without first embracing Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, they would not only lose those blessings, but also they would be bereaved of joy here in the world and in the life after death. Kumuyi said “all humanity comprising all races, tribes and peoples have sinned and stand condemned before God,’’ no matter the level of their prosperity. The General Superintendent of Deeper Christian Life Ministry said the only solution is Christ’s Salvation, not a rat race for more riches or acquisition of property.
This applies to a world ensnared in the fever of explosive scientific and technological inventions and discoveries. Of course, all these are leading man to an unprecedented age of material blessings, threatening to ostracize God altogether from his world. This, argues Kumuyi, is the path of destruction, self-immolation. He called on the people to step away from the tip overlooking the consuming valley.What will follow such a wise decision to renounce worldliness and opt for the counsel of God?
Kumuyi said man will be positioned for unspeakable bliss as he settles for Christ. He proved this at the Port Harcourt crusade as he led thousands of sinners to salvation. Thereafter, following breakthrough prayers byKumuyi, God brought down miracles, healings, deliverances and signs with wonders to the people.
A man afflicted with prostate enlargement and high blood pressure was delivered. Another who was a member of a cultic society said after Pastor appeared to him in a dream he was saved from the demonic affiliation. There was the case of one who was freed from the unbearable pain after 13 years’ dislocation of his right arm. There was also the great miracle of a woman who was born with two navels. She lived with that condition for 21 years, until Kumuyi prayed and one of the navels disappeared. Incredible!
Pastor Kumuyi says the lesson from all these supernatural miracles from Heaven is that there is hope for lost man with room for more blessings than the relatively meagre showers we are celebrating at the moment. But first, he pleads, we must forsake the waywardness that separates us from God and prevents us from enjoying Him full length.
That is how Nigeria and its people can also be delivered from the challenges besetting us, the same way the United States of America was in the first half of the 19th Century.
By: Israel Mkpaoro
Dr. Mkpaoro is the Coordinator of the International Friendship League (IFL), Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Hostilities And Seamless Democratic Transition (II)
This is the concluding part of the above headline featured on wednesday, January 18, 2023.
According to reports, “the attack was likened to warfare with booming explosive devices and a massive exchange of gunfire between the hoodlums and security agencies, came on a day the INEC started the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, to people, who registered, recently. “The INEC raised the alarm over what it described as systematic and targeted attacks on its facilities nationwide, ahead of the 2023 general elections. “A policeman was killed in the attack, while another suffered a severe injury in the gun duel during the gunmen’s attack at the Imo State Headquarters of the INEC, Port Harcourt Road, Owerri. “This brings to three, the number of INEC offices in the state, attacked by the hoodlums since December I, 2022. The incident followed the earlier attacks on INEC’s Orlu LGA office on December 1, 2022, and the Oru West LGA office on December 4, 2022.
“Part of the INEC office was razed by the hoodlums, who used IEDs to completely burn the Election and Party Monitoring, EPM, building”. Addressing newsmen at the State Police Command’s Headquarters, Owerri, where the lifeless bodies of the hoodlums were displayed, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Michael Abattam, said: “The gunmen killed one policeman and injured another one in the gun duel that lasted for about an hour. “Five riffles, two vehicles, charms, locally made bombs, phones and money were recovered from the slain gunmen.” Governor Uzodimma, of Imo State who visited the scene blamed desperate politicians for the attack, saying that security would be adequately provided for the INEC for the distribution of the PVCs in the state. Uzodimma said: “You can see why INEC is the target
I have continuously said that what is happening in Imo State is politically inclined and that they want to make Imo State ungovernable and ensure there will be no election in Imo State. “However, security agencies are prepared. INEC is prepared and there will be an election in Nigeria. I was told the majority of them who came on this journey are lying critically ill, some are neutralised and others fled with gunshot injuries. The police are ever committed. The other sister agencies are also committed to ensuring security in the state. “My assurance is that we will have a very beautiful environment for Christmas God willing. We urge our people to come out and collect their PVCs, there will be security agencies from the ward, local government areas to the state level. It will be a fruitful exercise.” Bemoaning the attack, Dr. Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, said: “Our Imo State headquarters is located in the centre of Owerri, between a court and the state secretariat. This is, therefore, yet another systematic attack targeted at the commission’s assets across the country, more so on the day that the collection of PVCs commences nationwide ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The Atiku-Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation of the, PDP also expressed disappointment over attacks on INEC’s offices and called on Nigerians across party lines to support security services and INEC in their quest to ensure credible elections. Also, the Presidential Campaign Council of the Labour Party described the attacks as part of a larger plot to derail the 2023 general elections. Chief Spokesperson of the LP PCC, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, told Vanguard in a telephone interview that the attacks on INEC offices have been particularly high in the South-East and described the trend as worrisome. Tanko said: “It is worrisome no doubt but we will not be deterred. We see this as an attempt to give the South-East a bad name to give the impression that the people of the area don’t want elections to hold. “This is a lie. We will continue to support INEC an4epher Imumolen said: “The South-East has been agitating for too long because they feel neglected. The South-East has been marginalized and the President must wade in and ensure the region gets what it needs. “I believe that the South-East has been marginalized for too long. Nigeria is at war if we must truly say the truth but we need to unite our people but if we fail to do that, we will be seeing more attacks. “I condemn the burning of INEC officers, especially in the South-East, it is a condemnable act but we must look at the root cause and tackle it.“For us, we believe the security forces will live up to expectations to ensure that things that are needed to curb incidents like that should be totally eradicated.
In December, 2022 another INEC office was attacked in Oru West Local Government Area, three days after another INEC office was attacked in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State. The Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, confirmed the attack in a statement made available to journalists. “The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Imo State, Professor Sylvia Uchenna Agu, has reported that our office in Oru West Local Government Area was attacked at about 4.00am today Sunday 4th December 2022,” Mr Okoye wrote. “The attack affected the Conference Room where office furniture and fittings were destroyed,” he added. “However, other critical facilities were not affected.”Mr Okoye said the latest attack was the seventh on INEC facilities in the last four months. ‘It would be recalled that on Thursday 1st December 2022, our office in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State was also attacked. Overall, this is the 7th attack on our facilities in five States of the Federation in the last four months.”Mr Okoye expressed concern about the systematic attack on the commission’s facilities across the country as it prepares to conduct the 2023 general elections. “Once again, the Commission expresses its concern on the consequences of what appears to be a systematic attack on its facilities across the country on the conduct of elections in particular and electoral activities in general. The attention of the security agencies has been drawn to this latest incident for investigation and prosecution” Mr Okoye said.
Four months ago, some suspected arsonists razed an INEC office in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State. Also, two offices of INEC, in May 2021, were set ablaze by gunmen in Ebonyi State. The offices are located at Ezza North and Izzi local government areas of the state. Again, in September 2021, the commission’s office was set ablaze in Awgu Local Government Area office in Enugu State. The attacks on INEC facilities around the South-east and the South-south regions, as well as on security agencies, have been attributed to the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). But the group has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC office in Awgu, Enugu State was also not left out by the suspected hoodlums. It was gathered that the hoodlums carried out the dastard act, burning down a section of office. With combined efforts from security operatives, the fire was brought under control. Reacting to the development, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye revealed that the incident was being investigated. Resident Electoral Commissioner for Enugu State, Mr. Emeka Ononamadu, who reported the attack on the INEC office in Awgu Local Government Area of the State, noted that the section of the building where the electoral materials are kept, was completely burnt down. “Fortunately, all movable election materials were evacuated and there were no casualties”, he said.
Considering the destruction of INEC offices, it is pertinent to say that politicians, their allies and the hoodlums are yet to learn from the past. There is need for politicians to cultivate political maturity in carrying out electioneering campaigns. The cases of attacks and counter attacks are very unnecessary and dents the credibility of a process that will produce national and state leaders. “Politics Without Bitterness” was the political mantra of the founder and presidential candidate of Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri. It behoves everyone to imbibe this guiding light. All political stakeholders should ensure a smooth transition to another democratic governance. Nigeria needs free, fair, peaceful and credible elections.
By: Igbiki Benibo
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