By Tife Owolabi
Encourage diversification beyond oil by investing in agriculture, technology, and manufacturing. Rwanda’s focus on becoming a technology hub and Ethiopia’s investment in industrial parks offer models for diversification.
Nigerians and Nigeria are in a perilous time. The situations confronting us are on all sides: inflation, food shortages, and insecurity. The times are hard, and solutions seem impossible. President Bola Tinubu is unaware of these hardships caused by removing the subsidy, the effects of the exchange rate and inflation caused by PMS prices. But what are the solutions to the problems?
As of the 9th of February, all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government civil servants have not been paid their January salary. Is there a renewed hope or what is happening?
On Thursday, President Bola Tinubu directed the immediate release of 42,000 metric tons of assorted food items from both the strategic reserve and the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria as a short-term response to the rising food shortage in the country.
The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, announced the directive after a meeting of the special presidential committee on emergency food intervention.
The questions are: Where are the funds available to purchase the food items, particularly with Federal civil servants who have not been paid? Does the government want them to take a loan or resort to stealing to get the grains and feed their families? Is the Nigerian state broke or insolvent to meet her obligations?
What is the situation of the balance sheet? We know we can’t afford subsidies on PMS, and Nigerians are enduring pain with the unintended consequences, but what is the state of finances? Is NNPC not remitting money to the government coffers again? What about FIRS, the Customs, and other revenue agencies? Whereabouts are most talks about funds saved on the subsidy removal? The questions are too enormous and President Tinubu needs to come clean on the true state of the economy affairs in the face of these daunting economic challenges in Nigeria — insecurity, corruption, food insecurity, inflation, and the Naira crisis — one expects the President and economy team to rise to the challenge or his “Emilokan” life ambition was to answer the calling a president not to do the task with office? He and his team must, as a matter of urgency, marshal ways and means to tackle the multifaceted challenges with a a holistic approach combining policy reforms, institutional strengthening, and societal engagement.
I will suggest the following as they have been canvassed in past by various scholars.
Economic Diversification: Encourage diversification beyond oil by investing in agriculture, technology, and manufacturing. Rwanda’s focus on becoming a technology hub and Ethiopia’s investment in industrial parks offer models for diversification.
Security Reforms: Enhance security forces’ capacity through training and technology, while addressing root causes of insecurity such as poverty and marginalization. Colombia’s peace process with FARC and Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement show the importance of dialogue and reconciliation.
Anti-Corruption Measures: Implement transparent procurement processes, strengthen anti-corruption agencies, and promote accountability at all levels of government. Singapore’s zero-tolerance approach to corruption and Georgia’s successful anti-corruption reforms serve as examples.
Food Security: Invest in agricultural infrastructure, research, and extension services to boost productivity and ensure food self-sufficiency. Brazil’s success in reducing hunger through targeted social programs like Bolsa Família demonstrates the importance of integrated approaches.
Inflation and Currency Stability: Adopt prudent monetary policies, control money supply, and attract foreign investment to stabilize the currency. Chile’s successful inflation targeting regime and Malaysia’s management of currency crises provide valuable lessons.
Implementing these solutions requires political will, public participation, and long-term commitment to sustainable development, ultimately leading to a more resilient and prosperous Nigeria.
President Bola Tinubu, live up to your dreams and ambitions to change the situation of the country before your renewed hope mantra becomes a shege Banza as the people are becoming furious and impatient with your admonition. I rest my case.
Tife Owolabi is a Public Affairs Analyst.