The maxim that nothing good comes easy and that there’s no gain without pain as quoted by Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Information Minister, on the 21st of October, 2019 during his visit to the new corporate headquarters of the Sun Newspaper, hold true at all times. If they were to be subjected to scientific analysis, they would have become laws and not merely maxims. Albeit it is true that there is no pain without gain, should that be quoted by a Federal Minister in Nigeria that has no first-hand experience of recent economic policies by the Federal Government? Lai Mohammed belongs to the upper echelon of the Nigerian society and has no moral right to preach ‘no pain no gain.’ Alongside others like him, they are cushioned in the most convenient of places and they don’t feel the pain that an average Nigerian would experience in face of policies such as increment in VAT from 5 per cent to 7 per cent, ban on importation of rice and insistence on rice produced locally, new toll gate charges, CBN policy on bank charges, reviewed taxation on carbonated drinks, National ID card renewal fees and more ridiculously land border closure.
The parody of the Nigerian state is more appalling when one considers the ineptitude of the government in implementing policies and its resemblance to the actions of the biblical Rehoboam that promised to inflict more sufferings on the people instead of alleviating them. For the umpteenth time, the Federal Government has failed to recognise the effect of policies that they implement such as the decision to close land borders which in anyway has not fulfilled its purpose for herders and cattle still enter the country from the northern borders. The decision of the government to close land borders shows the Federal Government admittance of its inability to control the borders, hence the decision to shut it down. And whatever the reason either to spite the neighbouring countries or to teach them lessons on how to respect agreements, it is still a needless decision at this time. Why would a country that is not producing anything shut her borders against her neighbours?
This ineptitude of the Buhari-led government becomes more obvious when one considers the government understanding of the Nigerian economy. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t understand the economy and it is evident from the way it has gone about implementing policies that have cant in orchestrate a better Nigeria. As it is, Nigeria is a disorganised country when it comes to people and resources management. And the government has been ridiculous mot times when they set out to pursue some if their policies. For example, they said they would feed children in primary schools nationwide. When they started, they picked some schools in some selected states of the federation. This brings the question of what qualifies the children that were fed and the ones that were not since they are all Nigerians and they are all qualified to be treated equally by the government. The same thing was repeated with the Trader Moni. Some traders got it and some didn’t.
Things like this only show the level of disorganisation in the country. This is because there is no proper data of every Nigerian. Even with the feeding of school children and the Trader Moni, the government could not boast of having the exact data of all those that could be beneficiaries. This is because there is no proper census and data management. And when there is poor data management, it is difficult to effectively plan in a way that would benefit all.
The change that the Buhari-led Federal Government promised us is evident, albeit in a negative way. President Buhari has again demonstrated his ability to preside over a country that needs economic redemption. He clearly lacks the wits to govern a 21st-century country. Worse still, the current CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, due to his background in managing a private bank, seems to be delighted in making policies that drill holes in the pockets of Nigerians at every opportunity he has.
With the current economic situation of the country and government’s never-ending policies that could see Nigerians taxed for walking the ground of their own country, it is hypocritical for any government official to preach the ‘no pain no gain’ message. They don’t feel what we feel because they live as gods who are being sent to rule us instead of governing us. They are not affected by their own policies neither are their immediate family members. That’s why it is easy for them to defend the recent government policies that could see Nigerians lose more than they gain. And with the way things are going, the government would succeed in marching the country to the next level of economic mishap as things are now turning out to be worse than they are. That’s why it is for them to increase VAT when other countries are reducing it.
The Nigerian government should know that they are doing that which doesn’t favour us. Since the turn of the century, Nigeria has not witnessed many anti-Nigerians economic policies at the same time. If this is the next level they promised us in the build-up to the 2019 election, then they have not disappointed in anyway. If not, they should start implementing policies that are people friendly. If the government feels the economy is not good, they should not take it out on the people. Closing land borders would not in any way remedy our situation neither would preaching no pain no gain. It is hypocritical for anybody to preach to us that we should not lament when things are not favourable, and definitely not someone like Lai Mohammed.
Segun Ogunlade writes from University of Ibadan, Ibadan. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.