Nigerians looked forward to 2023 as a likely year of redemption from the chains of poverty, which deepened further in 2022. The hope of elections and plenty of new faces on the political scene seems to give a sense of better days ahead. without prejudice to the appearance of new faces. It is therefore not my intention to dash such hopes, even as I remind Nigerians that some of the economic policies left over from 2022 for implementation in 2023 should be of great concern. I must remind you that the new taxes promised earlier by Finance, Budget and Planning Minister Zainab Ahmed are in the works, as are new tariffs on inefficient electricity providers and, after all, setting the appropriate higher price. for fuel. denials or hiding.
Cushioning the adverse effects of these is the promise of a review of the remuneration and emoluments of civil servants and, by implication, Nigerians. Labor and Employment Minister Chris Ngige was quick to clear up an earlier report that the salaries of civil servants and civil servants would be reviewed. He knows that under the democratic framework and labor laws, or where the union is not committed, said new salary must be negotiated with the labor representatives unless there is a permanent agreement in which the salaries are linked or indexed to some economic factors such as inflation. A non-negotiated salary is a gift that cannot be given or withdrawn by the giver. This implies that the current government can approve new salaries and a new government can withdraw them to negotiate. What happens to non-negotiated compensation and emoluments, assuming they are different from wages and salaries? That is the question for the Nigerian Labor Congress.
The economic positivity we are concerned with here relates to the further exposure of economic parasites, economic spoilers, and economic destroyers. Some have been identified and some are being investigated in the hope that more will be exposed, particularly those that are sucking up our foreign exchange reserves. In recent months, our exchange rate has plummeted to a rock bottom against all forms of foreign currencies around the world. Reserves did not grow for most of the time, even as there were reports that crude oil production and sales have improved with the price of crude at a respectable level above the budgeted rate for 2022. Incoming capital or, In economic terms, the capital inflow, was shared between three items, two of which were expected and one of which was a covered innovation.
It is clear that we must pay off the huge external debts to remain respectable in the debtor markets. Some security equipment, appliances or accessories and security training programs are also expected to be conducted on an ongoing basis and paid for in foreign currency. The third item has to do with the travel schedules abroad by civil and public servants attached to the presidency, the National Assembly, ministries, departments, and agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning; Ministry of Trade and Investment; and the Central Bank of Nigeria. In the last six months there were many frivolous ‘arrangeé’ trips by the President where he was convinced that he had to go with a large entourage of all kinds of ministries and agencies with his ministers. They all collected their estacode in advance with an amount amounting to billions of dollars. We are going to see more such trips until the eve of the government’s departure, even if Nigerians shout the loudest. If three-quarters of that amount went to industrial imports, the economy would have started to emerge from recession.
So next time the CBN Governor is placing a large capital outflow on school fees paid by Nigerians traveling abroad to study as usual, you better ask him to compare that to the amount spent on estacode. During a recent private trip, I had the opportunity to visit five universities in the UK. Some 75-80 new Nigerian students I interacted with claimed they got their funds from the black market, as attempts to get hard currency through the CBN portal were futile.
If, in any New Year’s message, someone promises you 10 million jobs or the removal of oil subsidies or that all corrupt will be prosecuted, know that it is a mockery of our collective psyche. Every year for the past seven years, the promise of 10 million jobs has been ringing in our ears. The fuel subsidy debate, which invariably constituted a major bright spot for the All Progressives Congress campaign ahead of the 2015 election, continued to weigh on the party platform. It’s not just the oil subsidy debate we’re talking about today, but how many times the price of fuel has gone up under this government. The refineries are still asleep and the workers are still getting paid without working! The former Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was transformed into the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, specializing in the promotion of fuel imports, thereby discouraging domestic production by all means.
Prosecuting corrupt officials now means protecting their interests against public attacks. Recently some people were using social media to reinvent the wheel; paint incompetent and corrupt leaders as saints. Those who made Nigeria and Nigerians the world’s laughing stock were praised for managing and protecting the economy against outside hawks. They stated that in the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, the economy was growing between seven and eight percent and the external reserve was growing by leaps and bounds. Obasanjo certainly handed former president Umaru Yar A’dua a virile economy with strong foreign reserves and a sovereign wealth fund with minimal stock of debt, but it was a time of growth without jobs and development. Crude prices were rising and instead of using part of the fund to intervene in the industrial sector, the government was busy selling off some industrial companies at rock bottom prices through the office of the Vice President.
The same group of people claimed that President Goodluck Jonathan was the best leader that had ever happened to Nigeria. Statistics show that Nigeria earned more than N90tn from oil in Jonathan’s term and when he was ousted in 2015, the money could not be traced in the national treasury but in the accounts of individuals. We vividly remember how the President himself gave orders to distribute money (local and foreign currencies) among the men and women of his party towards the election. It was the period when the NNPC became a lord unto itself. It was the time when Dezieani Madueke ripped us off.
There was also an attempt to paint General Sani Abacha as a patriotic Nigerian leader even though he still sends us alerts about money from the country he embezzled in life! The people who gave the interview and those who distributed the video need to apologize to the Nigerians for taking them for a fool and stop the circulation of the offending video.
It is important to let us know the importance of the informal sector of the economy. It is that the informal sector rescued the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic with the unofficial food and pharmaceutical subsectors. We all saw on television how advanced economies distributed food and medicine to their citizens and how well equipped their health facilities were. The formal sector here could not do the same. We even saw how politicians hoarded food and medicine for ordinary people. The informal sector held firm behind the scenes. If you wanted to buy food, you could always get food to buy and if it was medicine, those medicine shops, herbal people and the like were there to serve us and save us.
The current monetary policy is about to destroy that sector. The CBN must sit down now and see how these people, or even Nigerians, can be helped. Many of those people don’t have banks or ATM cards, but they transact billions worth of business in cash. There is no such thing as an economy that is 100% cash free, and that is why the most recognized sophisticated economies still print money. Don’t borrow policies blindly. We have to recognize the limitation of our economic structure and improve it.
Just keep in mind that this article is not titled “Welcome to the Year of Economic Boom.” I can see more difficulties until delivery day, but hopefully economic positivity, not prosperity, could come from then on.