To say that the cost of living is skyrocketing in Nigeria is an understatement. This is not unexpected in an economy that posted an inflation rate of more than 21 percent.

In an economy that imports virtually all manufactured goods, in an economy where a lot of naira chases a few dollars, such an economy must witness high inflation and a perennial corrosion in the value of its currency as is the case with the Naira.

Obviously, this high rate of inflation means that the naira in your pocket may no longer be worth much. It means that those with fixed wages are actually taking home wages that they can no longer buy the same amount they bought at this time last year.

Clearly, the rising cost of living is pushing many Nigerians into border states of both poverty and depression.

For a country without a social safety net, huge increases in the cost of living will not only increase the despair and suffering of citizens, but will also lead to an increase in crime and criminal behavior.

A well-known axiom is that a hungry man is an angry man. Poverty is the main driver of criminal behavior in much of the Northeast and Northwest. You cannot have security in any space where the majority of people live below the poverty line.

Highlights from the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index survey conducted by NBS and others revealed that 63% of people living in Nigeria (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor. This is another way of saying that 133 million people are unemployed or underemployed. Therefore, it is essential that we increase production in the country so that more people can be employed.

Without reducing imports, local production cannot prosper. Only local manufacturing can end the jobless and boost the economy through employee spending.

You cannot raise the profile of an economy by handing out petty cash gifts to the unproductive sector. You grow an economy and jobs, supporting the productive sector and encouraging it through the reduction of tariffs and other incentives.

The adoption of performance-related wages in the public sector is also seen as an option for the government to help improve overall productivity.

In a changing world where technology is a major driver of economic growth, players in that sector need to be strongly encouraged through the provision of grants, subsidies or tax incentives. Tax credits also help companies improve their technology and engage in effective research and development activities.

Many leaders in Nigeria seem to have forgotten that education is an important driver of productivity and increased economic well-being of nations. Better skills and training allow workers to exploit their talents and abilities and produce higher quality labor.

The use of technology is important in determining the level of productivity in manufacturing industries. The degree of innovation in new production methods or processes. The transfer of knowledge and technology between countries through open trade relations and foreign direct investment between countries.

Productivity is also affected by the cost of banking transactions and multiple business taxes. According to the National Tax Policy Document, multiple taxes occur when the tax is levied on the same person in respect of the same obligation by more than one state or local government council.

Multiple taxes manifest themselves in many ways: State and local governments collect various illegal mandatory payments without proper legal backing through intimidation and harassment of payers. Its collection is characterized by the use of stickers, erection of roadblocks, and use of revenue agents/advisers, including car park resellers; situations in which a taxpayer faces lawsuits from two or more different levels of government for either the same or similar taxes. A good example here is the administration of the Value Added Tax (VAT) and the Sales Tax simultaneously. When the same level of government imposes two or more taxes on the same tax base. A good example is the payment of the corporate income tax, the education tax and the technology fee by the same company; and cases where various government agencies “impose taxes” in the form of fees or charges.

The Federal Government must bring sanity to the country’s tax administration to avoid the total collapse of the economy due to the tax suffocation of companies. Multiple taxation has negatively affected the operations of many companies and, as such, is a source of criticism. According to experts, the tax system reduces investment returns, erodes the capital base of publicly traded companies, and subsequently causes companies to collapse.

Other than multiple taxes, the government has not been paying attention to the welfare of Nigerians despite the fact that section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) states that “the security and welfare of the people will be the main purpose of the government.”

When the Nigerian government at all levels puts people’s well-being first, workers will be paid wages that match the rate of inflation so that the average wage of workers can really drive you home. The government should also better manage the economy to provide a better standard of living for all Nigerians who may not want to be a part of 8am to 5pm jobs but prefer to run their own small businesses. It is well known that small businesses have been the engine of economic prosperity around the world, including China.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) promised to protect the common man when seeking power in 2015, sadly, almost eight years later, the common man has been ripped off more than ever. His standard of living has plummeted while the cost of living has skyrocketed beyond the wildest imagination.

In this election year, let me end this column this week by asking the question that 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan posed to all Americans: “Are you better off today than you were eight years ago?”