Where are managers of Nigeria’s economy?

The inflation news that hit the headlines late last week should anger serious governments across the African continent. The Friday 16 September 2022 edition of the Daily Trust opened with a story entitled “Inflation Surge Ravaging Economies Across Africa”. History reported that Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, recorded an inflation rate of 20.52 percent in August 2022. With a sustained monthly increase for the past seven straight months , this latest rise marks the highest level in Nigeria ‘s inflation rate in 17 years . This breaks the previous high of 24.3 percent from 2005.

This worrying rate of inflation comes as the Nigerian currency, the naira, was nearing a record low against the dollar on the black market; Trading above N700 to a dollar at the end of last week. Other African countries facing similar inflationary pressures are Ghana, where authorities are grappling with a 21-year high inflation rate of 33.9 percent; Rwanda at 20.4 percent; Uganda at 9 percent; and South Africa 7.8 percent. The immediate and direct impact of this hyperinflationary regime on citizens is evident in how people’s access to basic necessities has been curbed.

A Nigerian doesn’t need a media report to know and feel the impact of the current record inflation. A visit to the nearest market or kiosk is proof enough that inflation, which still shows signs of exceeding its current levels, is hitting Nigerians hard. The naira has lost everything that constitutes its purchasing power, drastically reducing the value of Nigerian workers’ net monthly wages. I wonder if the same pay will now get them to the first bus stop on the way home. Most Nigerians today are grappling with several questions to which, of course, they lack answers. It seems that those charged with providing answers tend to turn a deaf ear to the questions.

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Many Nigerians experience hardship and find it increasingly difficult to survive. Today every day in Nigeria has its own prices for goods and services. It seems as if those who are responsible for easing the situation by virtue of and on behalf of their offices do not know the difficult times in the country. Government policies are not really doing anything to tame the tide of inflation. Authorities may claim they are working, but Nigerians are really not feeling the effects. The strategies of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) just don’t work. Nigerians suffer, starve and get sick.

Where, for Allah’s sake, are the managers of our economy? Where are the Treasury Secretary, the CBN Governor and the DG, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)? Nigerians don’t even feel the presence of their shadows. Do they go to the same markets that most Nigerians visit every day to buy essential goods? If so, are you aware of the speed at which inflation is skyrocketing in the country? If so, what are they doing to reverse the growing trend? In fact, their response to the country’s dwindling economy is too abysmal to be practically noticed.

Could the managers of our economy wait for Nigerian citizens to plunder and eat garbage dumps before saving the economy? Or could they wait for the US$15 million made available to Nigeria by the United Nations (UN) to help tackle Nigeria’s food insecurity? The United Nations said in April this year that by 2022 around 4.5 million people in Sudan, Nigeria and Kenya will be at risk of starvation.

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In case our leaders don’t have a clear idea of ​​the hyperinflation being talked about, this column here attempts to provide an update. A mudu (cubic measure) of rice that sold for N600 three months ago now costs N1,200. A standard pack of indomie (the staple food for school children) previously sold for N70/pack now costs N170. A mudu from Sugar previously sold for N300 now costs N1,100; Subhana Allah! A standard size pack of spaghetti previously sold for N300 is now N420. Some groceries and essential goods have become 200 to 300 percent more expensive in recent months. This doesn’t include cooking gas and prepaid meter units, which are now being used up almost faster than the speed of light.

The current troubled times continue to remind some Nigerians of the troubled days of 1984, commonly referred to as “corn time” in Nigeria’s Nupe communities. Until then, the Nupe had never served or eaten food cooked from cornmeal as a family meal, not even as morning porridge. Previously it was primarily a cash crop sold to Hausa traders and for occasional domestic use when roasted or boiled. The 1984 Depression, however, convincingly made corn a staple among the Nupe; a reason the period is so called by them.

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The ordinary Nigerian does not care about the agenda of the weekly Federal Executive Board meetings. Nor is he interested in knowing the exchange rate of the naira to an American dollar. He sees nothing to do with the inflation figures that the National Bureau of Statistics regularly releases. All that bothers the average Nigerian is the reality of hunger staring them in the face. As soon as there is no food on his table, all is not well, no matter what the government may claim to be doing about the economy. May Allah inspire the stewards of our finances to bail out Nigeria’s struggling economy so that citizens’ access to food and basic necessities of life is not jeopardized, amin.

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