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It’s The Economy, Stupid

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Posted: May 27, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


By Jude ‘Feranmi

As far as today goes, Bill Clinton’s 1993 Campaign Slogan is what best describes the current political atmosphere. It’s the economy, Stupid.

The National Bureau of Statistics released a report based on the first quarter of 2016 and it appears to be the worst GDP Report we have seen in a decade. Nigerians get to consume so many figures these days that we can almost not interpret what those figures mean, so I will try and not make the same mistake here. The summary is simple, We have a very bad situation, the worst we have had in years and there is no point arguing why this is so and apportioning blames to whichever administration was responsible, the former who had already left power over a year ago or the incumbent who was left to deal with the bad economic policies of years past.

For me, one thing is just clear and unarguable, incumbent administrations are always left with the decisions of the previous ones, government at least is a continuum, the realities that average citizens then face with change of governments is what is not a continuum. The point I plan to make with this essay and to all Nigerians is simply embodied in the title of this Op-Ed so as succinctly as possible; let me go through that report in a way you would understand.

Q1 GDP Reports these things – There is a negative GDP Growth Rate (-0.36%). The GDP is a combination of the every sector’s production, this means most sectors have produced less than the last quarter and then comes the unemployment rate at 12.1% and let’s break that down. This would mean at least one out of ten individuals ready and capable and seeking for work does not have a job. This figure stands at 56.1% amidst young Nigerians between the ages of 15-24. Yeah! An approximate six out of ten young Nigerians.

So what happened is really straight forward, If you have a company that produced more last quarter and now produces less (remember that third quarter 2015 was also better than fourth quarter 2015, business sense says he can’t afford to pay the number of persons he paid last time to produce less of what he produced last time and from what NBS says, 24.5m persons between 15-65 yrs either unemployed or underemployed in q1 2016 from 22.4m in q4 2015. Moreso, number of unemployed persons rose by 1.45m, so we could say something like the number of people in the labor force willing to work that couldn’t find work has increased due to the job loss we talked about earlier, influx into the labor force or fall from underemployment.

What all this translates to is reduced consumer spending, which of course is due to increased prices and reduced income, which is due to all these issues we highlighted and then as a producer without demand, you go ahead and reduce production and we are back in full cycle to all these horrible things we mentioned.

In a country where all these things are the way the report above has clearly shown and the administration continues to wage different battles on different fronts, from Sambisa Forest to Niger Delta Avengers to the anti-corruption fronts where we now finally have a conviction, to the labour movement fronts, We DEFINITELY need a LOUD and in deed, a VERY LOUD SPEAKER to echo repeatedly in the ears of this administration that it is really about the economy.

A lack of a clear policy direction on the economy, the absence of charisma and confidence from the President about the economy, the seemingly non-chalant attitude of the entire administration on anything about the economy and Madam Minister of Finance’s continued rhetoric of N350bn whatever are the only visible outcomes of an election that was decided based on an overwhelming support of the people who the nation’s economy decides whether they sleep hungry or they can eat before they sleep, whether they get to retain their wards in school or their wards get to stay at home, whether they close their shops or whether they continue to cope with the situation, whether they lose their jobs or whether their bosses decide to keep them on the payroll.

A Nigerian said boldly that he elected Buhari just because of his records on corruption and his ability to fight it and he’s doing just that and so he is comfortable. Well, this is a note to those whose pay grade can get them the ears of Mr President; It’s the economy, Stupid.

In three years time, what will determine whether Nigerians approve of Mr President’s performance in office is not how many thieves he was able to put in prison whether through the judgements given by courts of law or by an outright disregard for the rule of law, the day to day living, the standard of living of every average Nigerian and the 106 million people who are economically active and available for work is what will determine not just Mr President’s popularity but also how successful this administration is and so for the umpteenth time, should they not know, let them be told that IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID.