Wrong Timing For Change In Nigeria

When Muhammadu Buhari won the presidential election in Nigeria last year, the entire country was flooded with hope. It seemed like the country was finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel instead of another train. APC’s complete defeat of PDP was refreshing for Nigeria, a country that was plagued with decades of bad leadership and mismanagement. Excited that Mohammadu Buhari will cleanse the system, the country waited eagerly for the president’s next move. It’s been almost a year since President Buhari took office and we still haven’t found “our girls,” Naira is at an all-time low of #340 to $1 (at the time of this post), insecurity and inconsistency of the power supply is still persists and unemployment is still sky high. APC should have waited until 2019 to unleash their “change agents” on Nigeria.

Time

PDP could not be in a better position right now. According to economist Mark Perry with the American Enterprise Institute, “a gallon of gas costs $0.89 cents less than a gallon of sparkling water, and more than $1 less than a gallon of Pepsi.” This deals a fatal blow to Nigeria because the country depends heavily on oil revenue. With an empty treasury and plethora issues that need immediate attention, APC is fighting an uphill battle. It’s almost as if PDP left office at the perfect time.

Does President Buhari have the right strategy and people in place to implement true change or should we expect more of the same old ineffectual method of governance from this president? The President has expressed his commitment to not devaluing the Naira and with constant arrest of former officials, it seems there is no end in sight to his “operation sweep” mission. However, if the president and his “dream team” of change agents don’t start making progress in the right direction, Nigeria could be out of business.

With minimal revenue, how do we solve problems in Nigeria? There are actions the president could take right now to start improving the Nigerian economy. Three major but impactful steps the presidents could facilitate now are:

Provide the middle class with some financial relief:

An average middle class family in Nigeria is paying outrageous amounts of money in annual rent and private school fees. To wrap your mind around some figures, the top 3 most expensive high schools in Nigeria are British International School, Grange High School and American International School respectively. British International School charges about $13K per annum, Grange High School charges $13.5K per annum and American International School charges $16K per annum. This is a heavy toll on a middle class family but unfortunately this cost is becoming unavoidable as the quality of education at public high schools in Nigeria is dwindling. Today, more middle class families are opting to send their children to expensive private schools for better quality education. I attended a military secondary school in Nigeria (I would consider my high school a public school) but I hear today military schools are not what they used to be so more parents are choosing private schools.

Like a prey most landlords and private schools leech off the Nigerian middle class. Although the CBN makes it illegal for schools and Landlords to ask for payments in US dollars (Read), that has not stopped schools and landlords from demanding exuberant amounts of money in US Dollars (Case in point)

There is no credit system in Nigeria so it could be a painful process for landlords to enforce a month to month collection policy. But with minimal investment the government can improve the standard of public high schools allowing middle class families to save and possibly improve consumer spend that will in turn improve the economy.

Grow the agricultural sector:

This has been said so many times, it sounds almost redundant. Not sure what the problem is here. Do our educated youths see agriculture a demeaning job or is the government not doing enough to drive home the point and encourage the practice? In my short year on earth I have come to realize that there can never be too much food. By developing the agricultural sector Nigeria can almost immediately tilt the scale of import and export towards more export.

Watched this interview of a pig farmer in Nigeria (Watch – Not in English) and I was amazed at how profitable and clean pig farming could be. Seriously, we have all year round summer, some form of agriculture does not need electricity and there is abundant of CHEAP land outside of Lagos so what is the problem? What are millions of unemployed youths not opting for agriculture?

Agriculture could drastically and almost immediately improve the Nigerian economy.

Bring home Nigerian talents:

A friend of mine completed her undergraduate and graduate degree in the United States and decided to move back to Nigeria. When I called her a few months later she let me know that her NYSC program was well on the way and she that she had some job prospects lined up after NYSC. It is 2015 why is Nigeria still enforcing NYSC? This program has outlived its purpose and its becoming a huge entry barrier for young Nigerian talents looking to come back home. Why would a vibrant youth sacrifice higher pay for a FULL YEAR of service to his/ her country?

The Nigerian government is currently looking for ways to save, I say cut the NYSC program (along with all the ghost servers) and immediately save millions while opening up the job market to employable talents. This could mean bad news for youths that are currently unemployed in Nigeria but let us face it, how many of these youths are employable? Employable vs. unemployable graduates, this is a topic that deserves a full dissertation.

It’s not all bad news for President Buhari if he can take a break from his cleansing mission and dedicate a year to these three issues he (or at least APC) could be guarantees a second term and Nigeria could stay in business

 

Written By Lola Fajemirokun

Picture credit deviantart.com

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