By Sen. Dino Melaye
Nigerians will remember vividly when this administration during its campaign made the statement “ *From Top to Bottom”* most Nigerians laughed in amusement, thinking it was just one of those campaign slogans. Little did we know it was a clear declaration of how our economy would be ruined from Top to Bottom. The President has succeeded in taking the economy of this country from top to bottom. Nigeria’s once robust economy handed over to Mr. President by the last administration in 2015 is in a state of anomie today. Nigeria’s once robust economy has been wrecked and ruined, resulting in unbearable hardship, hunger, hopelessness, starvation, strange sicknesses, suicide and and slavery . Mr. President and his administration have successfully turned Nigeria into an unenviable poverty capital of the world, where over 82.9 million once-thriving Nigerians can no longer afford their daily meals and other necessities of life. Millions of Nigerians now wish they were never born as Nigerians.
Without mincing words or any iota of reservations, Buhari’s administration is a colossal failure and bedevilled with so many contradictions. The administration failed in every sector of our national life. This is the administration that made sweeping and salivating promises to the Nigerian populace, promising tantalising dividends the country stands to gain through its leadership particularly on the fight against corruption, economy, security, democracy as well as national unity and cohesion.
Sadly, today, what we are experiencing is a comatose economy, a corrupt and dysfunctional politics, a fractured society, a broken nation beset by widespread poverty, debilitating insecurity and, inevitably, massive distrust of government. And we have watched with dismay and utter disgust the gradual and total collapse of almost every fabric of governance in Nigeria. *FROM TOP TO BOTTOM INDEED!*
Quite unconscionably Mr. President still feels his administration is doing so well that he rolled out the drums to celebrate his seventh anniversary on 29th May. In a 28-page document, published on May 28, the presidency reeled out self-acclaimed achievements, covering legislative reform, infrastructure and agriculture. For the avoidance of doubt and for the purpose of clarity, how has the economy performed under this administration? Mr. President needs to remark his own script, to see what he has turned Nigeria into in this past agonising and dehumanising years of his administration.
Our debt crisis manifests in our fiscal cliff as we now spend ALL of our revenue servicing debts. Nigeria’s statistical figures recently showed that we now spend over 100% of our revenue to service debts. This past quarter, we spent N1.94 trillion servicing debts, while our revenue was less than that figure by N300 billion, at N1.63 trillion. This is ridiculous. So, the questions we Nigerians are asking is where will we find money to fulfil other obligations? We can no longer depend on our crude oil because, it has finally become a liability, as our proceeds from crude get cancelled out by our import of petrol, Nigeria is now stuck for ways to fund herself.
Also, our national debt stock is about N41 Trillion, or close to $100 billion. This is about a quarter of our GDP. But when we add government borrowing from people’s pensions, the borrowing that was used in intervening in the bad bank, AMCON, and the Federal Government’s exposure to the Central Bank of Nigeria, perhaps we are looking at least another N35 to N40 Trillion, taking our debt to GDP ratio to over 50%. Of course, debt to GDP is a meaningless index. What about debt to revenue? That is where we find that our economy has really cascaded from prosperity to poverty on fulfillment of the unavowed determination of the President to bring the economy from fame to shame and from top to bottom.
On the monetary side, the naira value is becoming uncontrollable. The foreign exchange market continues to witness supply shortage to meet its demand. A gap of at least N250 has emerged between the official rate and the more-accessible ‘parallel market’ rate. As of today, the exchange rate is N710 per US$1 dollar, and the devastating effect of same on economy of our nation cannot even be fathomed. It has become one of Nigerian’s worst nightmares because the exchange rate is tied to inflation and perception. It is a phenomenon that feeds on itself and leads to a spiral because Nigeria is still largely an import economy, we produce nothing apart from agricultural items which we sell raw.
Inflation stands at 18.6% and the Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has raised the benchmark rate by 100 basis points (1%) in the last two consecutive meetings. Even though rates are being raised, which should theoretically slow down inflation, the opposite has been the case. The higher the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), the higher the inflation.
Nigeria is also stuck in a perpetual trap of low productivity. Nigeria today is producing little or nothing. This administration failed to encourage or provide the atmosphere to increase production. And it is glaring when we analyse our exports against our imports. This situation has gotten worst under this administration. We are locked into a situation where we only grow crops and sell them yearly without adding appropriate value for export. Yet we attract the most sophisticated imports from the world.
May I reiterate to the President the message of the classic Nigerian Songstar, Asa, who on the 19th day of July 2022 during the NNPC re-launch rendered her contextual song *“there is fire on the Mountain and nobody seems to be on the run”* . The song was a direct message that if as usual you are ‘not aware’, that all is not well in Nigeria, the country over whuch you are the Commander-in-Chief. It is so ridiculously bad that the Commander in Chief is now the target in chief of bandits and kidnappers. What a repulsive and revulsive melodrama. To my fellow Nigerians, this is no longer business as usual. Nigeria is heading for a seemingly irredeemable precipice under this administration. We need to speak up now before our National patrimony and collective wealth will be extinguished under this administration. Above is just an ice berg of what the economy looks like and if we fail to wake up, we may not have a nation called Nigeria by the end of this administration come 2023.
In conclusion, I and other well-meaning Nigerians will continue to speak truth to power and expose the atrocities and economic scavengers of this government ruining our dear nation, it is a pledge we have made until we see a better Nigeria. the protection of our national wealth and treasure is a charge that some of us have laid on ourselves so the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain. *IN AN UNJUST SOCIETY, SILENCE IS A CRIME.*
Let’s save Nigeria from tipping over from the bottom to the bottomless pit!
Dino Melaye is a Nigerian politician, a former senator and was a member of the 8th Nigerian National Assembly, representing Kogi West Senatorial district.