Inflation in the country is reported to be at 20.5 per cent with goods and services selling three to four times more. The purchasing power of individuals is exceedingly depleted as they are constantly short of funds to access needed products and services. This is unacceptable for a nation which prides itself as the ‘Giant of Africa’. With the persistent inflation, the nation’s economic backbone would remain weakened. More people are likely to slip into poverty. Some of the citizens who scrape their way towards survival are likely to find themselves pulled into deprivation and destitution.
Some of the few persons who manage to keep their heads above these stormy waters are likely to cut corners by exploiting and undermining the economic survival of fellow but less-privileged Nigerians. Millions of people are likely to be angry, hungry, unfulfilled and dissatisfied with governance in the country. No matter the mouthing by the Federal Government (FG), she is unlikely to earn the maximum by-in of the populace for them to embrace her policies and programmes. New Telegraph considers the persistence of inflation as avoidable and therefore inexcusable. Regrettably, high recurrent expenditure has been a regular feature of the government.
This is brought about by fat salaries and juicy perks of elected and appointed political office-holders. The resort to makeshift solutions, disguised as a cocktail of borrowing, has only worsened matters. This practice further compromises the ability of Africa’s most populous nation to vigorously undertake production while making it to be more attracted to importation, which brings pressure to bear on her foreign reserves. With minimal production and rising importation, inflation is ushered in, as evidenced by the case of Nigeria. New Telegraph urges the FG to embark on a realistic realignment of national priorities.
The country’s worsening economic predicament cannot and may never be with foreign assistance usually garbed in loans and importation of products and services. We recommend that Nigerians with demonstrable scientific-cum-engineering ingenuity to operate modular refineries should be given licences to refine crude oil. The uninterrupted local refining of crude oil would unleash a multiplier effect on the nation. It would help make refined petroleum products readily available to Nigerians at pocket-friendly rates while helping to put a permanent end to the conduit to the national treasury referred to as subsidy payments running into trillions of naira.
Nigeria’s disturbing level of unemployment would be mitigated as the refining of crude oil would help to keep workers busy in the petroleum, manufacturing and other sectors. The capital flight caused by the recurring export of crude oil would cease as crude oil is refined into derivatives which include petrol, gas, diesel, kerosene, clothes, plastic chairs, plates and cups. Lawmakers at local, state and federal levels should be encouraged to return to their businesses, professions and other endeavours for their sustenance while carrying out their legislative duties on part time arrangements. As part time lawmakers, vigorous participation in debates at plenary and impressive discharge of other legislative assignments at the committee and oversight stages should be given weighty considerations in determining the allowances to be paid the parliamentarians.
The sitting days of the parliaments at all levels should be drastically reduced. It is imperative to review the duplication in the funding of security agencies in Nigeria. Since funds are allocated to the security agencies, in the annual budget, it amounts to condemnable waste of scarce resources to extend funds labelled as security votes and running into millions or billions of naira to some political office-holders across board.
Funds saved from the referred indefensible duplication of security expenditure could be deployed into a more logical endeavour such as settling the demands by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). New Telegraph recommends that offices of First Ladies at the federal and state levels should be allowed to remain ceremonial without funding from the public till and should not be eligible to enjoy the deployment of personnel from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). The Revenue Mobilisation Fiscal and Allocation Commission (RMFAC) should be excused from the fixing of the salaries and privileges of elected and appointed political office-holders.
The fixing of wages and perks of all persons in the public service including political officeholders should be transferred to the National Incomes, Wages and Salaries Commission (NIWSC). On no account, should the NIWSC carry out an upward review of the wages and allowances of political office-holders while the intended beneficiaries are still serving. Inauguration of the new government of local and state government should be purged of all forms of frivolities like parties wining and dining. Only two features namely, oath of office and inaugural addresses of incoming political office-holders are relevant at all inaugural ceremonies and should be retained. We are confident that these measures, if religiously followed, would assist the country to quickly overcome her avoidable trap commonly referred to as heightened inflation.