We are hearing from many quarters especially the dailies that we are out of recession. Is it a political rhetoric that makes people dance over this proclamation? When we hear people rejoicing at the bars, increasing the number of bottles, donating to charity, to the poor and decrease in unemployment, reduction of begging in the society with less people hanging around the church asking for help, then we know that recession is coming gradually to an end and the lamentation is over. It can’t be automatic. For Nigerians, “seeing is believing”. The declaration doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the performance of the economy. When the young business men, begin to go back frequently for business in the Asian and other foreign countries like before, we begin to see the sign of recovery. When the shops closed for lack of funds and those open with few items in them are re-opened and counters are refilled with goods, we begin to feel the little impact of ending recession. It is not by the number of “mallams” that parade around, asking for exchange of Dollars to Naira which makes one feel that the recession-ending is at the door step. If the recession has truly ended, how come we still have many children yet to go back to school? Many parents of the middle class are relocating their children to public schools. An article in the Sun Newspaper read “Parents’ September fever is here again and economic hardship causes them cold as kids return to school”. It has reached to the extent that no one is a gentle man again, only very few brush their teeth in the morning these days, to save cost on toothpaste but turn out to be an embarrassment to others with mouth odors. Even dressing well is another problem. We understand the position of the Finance Minister living in a male dominated society and she may be alone with her own opinion. If public opinion is based on number, she may follow them.
Prices of goods are still uphill, meals are still skipped in many homes, Rice is still for the kings and eaten at palaces, the exchange rate for Naira has not taken any healthy step backwards, our GNP has not shown any healthy sign, South Africa is still the strongest Economy in Africa, and Prices of petrol and kerosene have not reduced. Now tell me the indices of measuring the coming out of recession as Americans know the coming of the storms in their cities. The market women; vegetable sellers, rice sellers and eateries will know when the expected recession exit has landed and they will adjust their prices. When you go to market, you will know and your nylon bag would testify the amount of money you use to fill it. The age of propaganda politics is gone. Nigerians are sophisticated politicians now and they have learned where it pinches them. They have said goodbye to emotionalism and pep-talk politics. They have sharpened their tools to know whom they will vote for, that would make them avoid the mistakes of the past.
Let those at the helm of economic affairs not guess like the weather forecasters whether there will be rain or not, which is a probability. If you go out, you see many people sitting idle and these are the people to empower the economy. A great number of people complain about their shops being demolished by Government for modern comforts. It will take another prophet to convince Nigerians that we have come out of recession; the recession that was biting like a harmattan and uprooted economically, those trying to rise. Now their hopes are shattered. How are we going to convince those doubting Thomases now when they have not picked their pieces together? It is when they start life again and begin to breathe freely that we can believe the Economic Prophesy. When they notice that their businesses, respond to the economy, they will be happy. Economy is practical; you can feel it either positively or negatively. Nigerians deserve the latter. Only when a poor Nigerian, can buy consumable items he relies on for survival, at cheaper rates, then he will believe that the recession has indeed ended.
The economy is our life and the life of the nation; we cannot joke with what is important in the life of the nation, business life and ours. We are interconnected, connected with the global world and if our economy has a poor purchasing power due to weak currency, we cannot compete with the outside world. Gone are the days when we relied on the colonists. They have changed their policies. We must empower our people to empower our economy. In America, we can see how no one was left out in the hurricanes, floods and storms saga. Everyone was taken care of. That is what happens in a well planned economy. If the same fate befalls our country, will there be any hope? Only the rich would be saved! To answer a country is not by mouth. It is by seeing everybody as one and capable of enriching the nation, not depending on the nation only. That is how the economy can roll back if all hands are on deck!
VERY REV MONSIGNOR LIVINUS UKAH