THERE is a general consensus among Nigerians that 2017 was a difficult year, perhaps in relative terms. At the individual level, experiences of Nigerians vary. The platforms and perspectives as well as world views sometimes merge into a common condition when the economy is taken into consideration.
However, towards the end of the year, Nigerians experienced a petroleum crisis scarcity that caused everyone hardship including homes and businesses, and transportation which is a common denominator for everybody impacting on food prices and fares with some travellers paying as much as N15,000.00 for journeys that at a maximum peak time for travels should cost no more than N5,000.00. Petrol was being sold across the country from N250 – N400 at the petrol stations and black market. It was a sad experience for those who could not afford it and had to cut short their travel plans for the yuletide.
It is therefore double impact tragedy for Nigerians who are facing electricity rationing ranging from three-six hours at the maximum and in some areas, electricity is even non-existent, even where the infrastructure to light up their homes exist.
There is no doubt that the President Mohammadu’s Buhari’s administration is focused and is a desirous to give the best to Nigerians. The crippling fuel crisis is therefore a cause for concern, particularly at the time of the year it occurred when Nigerians were looking towards eager expectation of a trouble-free Christmas celebration and New Year.
While there was general economic hardship also occasioned by a struggling naira against the dollar in the foreign exchange market, the rate of exchange is still very unfavourable to Nigerians.
The economic indices that Nigerians look at in assessing the performance of the government at the national and state levels are mostly what affects the common man such as the prices of commodities, particularly rice, bread, garri, palm and vegetable oils.
Market indicators as at today still put the price of rice at between N15,000 and N20,000. As a major staple in Nigeria, the price of rice invariably affects the price of other commodities in the market.
While the aphorism in popular parlance is that what goes up (prices) in Nigeria, hardly ever come down, against the background of the increase in rice production across the country, Nigerians expect that the price of rice should go back to its heydays cost price of N10,000 per bag or less which is affordable even by the poorer populace.
What does it take to achieve economic stability in consumer goods is dependent on the manufacturing and productive capacity of sectors of the economy powered by incentives such as tax rebate, availability of electricity and access to loans by those engaged in all forms of manufacturing and agricultural undertakings.
Though, foreign exchange stability is a most crucial factor in addressing prices of goods and services at the home front, government through strategic planning should enunciate development goals and target improvements in all areas of the economy. Perhaps, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017 to 2020 should be a great booster to the federal government development goal in achieving a people-friendly oriented economy seen against the current hardship Nigerians at all levels are struggling with.
The plan came on stream April 5, 2017 launched by President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation’s economic challenges, and lay down the foundation for economic diversification as well as ensure inclusive and sustainable growth.
During the inauguration, President Buhari announced that the ERGP had brought together all the sectoral plans for agriculture and food security, energy and transport infrastructure, industrialization and social investments together in a single document.
Besides, he explained that it is a strategic implementation plan and sets out ambitious roadmap to return the economy to growth and to achieve seven percent growth rate by 2020 and advised state governments to draw aspirations and strategic direction from the plan to articulate their economic programmes, particularly in the development of the real sector.
The NIGERIAN OBSERVER notes that the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration through inauguration of the ERGP is very laudable and commendable.
We equally observed that there have been many good programmes in the past since the rolling plan years of previous governments but against these backdrops it was like Nigeria never developed any blue print in moving the nation forward.
The NIGERIAN OBSERVER, therefore calls for stringent implementation of the ERGP if it is to make any impact on the foundation of the economy which is in dire need of serious revitalization.
Regrettably, President Buhari inherited a soured and bankrupt economy from former President Goodluck Jonathan, not surprisingly Nigerians look up to him to play the role of a redeemer as there are a lot of expectations from Nigerians on him to turn around the economy for the better. Nigerians expect in 2018 a better and stable economy with affordable prices of goods and services and the avoidance of further fuel crisis which inflict severe hardship on the entire populace.