The economic situation in which Nigeria currently finds itself is pitiable.
Government (both at the federal and state levels) are dead broke. I listened to the Managing Minister of the Economy Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala talking about our new national gambit to borrow funds, and I wept for our country.
We had debt forgiveness some years back. We had a decent foreign reserves in very recent past. Now, we have frittered everything away like the profligate prodigal son.
A reckless statement from one of our heads of states is that money is not our problem in Nigeria, but how to spend it. Time was, when Nigeria had like $50 billion in our foreign reserves. How did we get to a situation where we are now borrowing $1 billion as a country?
There are reports of state governments owing as much as five months’ salary due to dwindling federal allocation to the state governments. What madness is this, borrowing to fund recurrent expenditure like salaries. This is like a train shuttling along with no brakes. it is bound to crash.
All these financial squeeze are the result of lack of foresight by those who manage our lives.
We have fuel shortage due to the inability of government to meet its financial obligations, promptly, to fuel importers (should we be importing fuel in the first place?). Yes, these folks need to learn from ants, and be wise.
We all know of the story of the ant and grasshopper. In time of plenty, the grasshopper is busy enjoying its life, not minding that nothing lasts forever (does that sound like Nigeria.. we have oil, let us be merry, and waste to our hearts desire)..The ant, being a lot more prudent, plans for the future by gathering food, and keeping aside, for the times when food is not so abundant.
Of course, the day comes, with the stated grasshopper starving to death (it had nothing stored for the inclement times of scarcity). Conversely, the ant had an abundance of food, and enjoyed its foresightedness.
Many countries blessed with oil, the way Nigeria is, have been using their oil wealth to build and develop their countries, empower their citizens, and pave solid foundations. They have also diversified their economy due to their realization that, “when you have a single source of income, you are in trouble”. Nigeria has been earning the bulk of her income from oil, neglecting (mostly) other veritable sources like tourism and agriculture. Now, the bubble has burst, the day of reckoning is here, international oil prices are down, and the Government is caught flailing like a fish, with no backup plan.
As we go into elections, and select new officials at all levels, we would do well as a people to choose those who have their thinking caps on, who can see beyond their personal financial noses, and who take the future of the country seriously.
As individuals, let us be wise as the proverbial ant. When things are going well for you financially, remember that life is like a pendulum. Therefore invest for tomorrow, and “don’t eat with all ten fingers”