I was at the market recently; the woman who sold dry fish to me said jokingly, “These days people no dey chop belle full again, you go chop small, drink water and ask God to bless the remaining.” That sounded really funny and I laughed despite the reality of the situation. The naira is at an all-time low against the dollar.
The situation is worsened by the fact that people’s buying power is tremendously weakened. As food and commodity prices are going up, people’s capacity to purchase is reducing because more income is not necessarily coming in; companies are not increasing salary either. This is the unfortunate pit that we have found ourselves.
Some people say that it is the previous administration that got us to where we are, but I disagree. During former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, under the competent hands of Okonjo-Iweala, things were not as bad as this. Okonjo-Iweala kept inflation in single digits. In fact, starting from former President Obansanjo’s time, the economy witnessed an upward progression; from debt cancellation in 2005, to economic boom with the discovery of new sectors like telecommunications, and to the rebasing of our economy in 2015, when Nigeria was declared the largest economy in Africa.
It would also be recalled that as oil prices began to dwindle in 2015, Okonjo-Iweala managed to keep things going; she put austerity measures in place to serve as a buffer. Thank God for her policy direction that states should save, otherwise a lot of them would have had little or nothing to fall back on.
I strongly believe that it is high time the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari invited Okonjo-Iweala back into the helm of affairs. She is a woman of foresight with sound policies that can guide our economy in the right direction.
She has done it before. At the inception of civil rule in 1999, the economy was almost grounded due to years of corruption and embezzlement by the military. Obasanjo, in a smart move, appointed Okonjo-Iweala as the leader of the economic team that revived the economy.
This is the time we need Okonjo-Iweala the most. President Buhari needs to admit that she is skilful at resuscitating dead economies. He can leverage on her exposure and international connections for the benefit of the nation. If given the chance again, in less than a year Okonjo-Iweala will take Nigeria out of this pauperised state and begin to propel our economy in the right direction.
Bade Adebolu writes from Ado-Ekiti. He sent this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org