The Sun News

Recession on my mind

We’re a country of continual occurrences and issues. As one is fizzling out, another is emerging. The big breaking news early last week was that the country had exited recession. It sounded like a sick man suddenly regaining good health. While some began to shout eureka, the doubters dismissed the information as flawed and the commotion then got diffused by the sensational declaration by the Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Aisha Alhassan that while she is all body for the Muhammadu Buhari administration, her spirit is actually with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former vice president who had run several times for president and is still willing to throw his hat into the ring. Nigeria is a 3D cinema. You can watch her from different angles. I always wear the binoculars and see from the angle of the masses, who bear the brunt of all that is spun and spewed in the public space. The news that Nigeria was through with recession meant much to me and to many who feel more money would now be available in their pockets; that employers of labour would now increase salaries; that the prices of food and other items would climb down; that we would return to the old days when you could make easy money and spend recklessly. But the information from the National Bureau of Statistics only indicated that the monetary value of goods and services we produce (aka Gross Domestic Product GDP) just increased marginally in the second quarter of the year by 0.55 percent after being in the negative for three consecutive quarters. The implication is that some economic activities, which the bureau assessed to have been recording negative growth are now doing better. The NBS cited crude oil as a sector where output is improving. This is understandable because we now hear less of pipeline vandalism. Nigeria is producing more oil and earning more dollars. If the current situation remains positive, it means more money for government and the better for the economy and the citizenry, provided the earnings are utilised judiciously. The bureau of statistics also observed positive growth in agriculture. This indicates that more Nigerians are heeding the call to return to the farms and more are investing in agriculture. This is a good development. The shame of Nigeria relying on foreign food will end. I have no problem with the NBS data, particularly the information that agricultural production is increasing.

My worry lies in the false hope that politicians give the citizens. I acknowledge that beyond calling on the people to embrace agriculture, the Buhari administration initiated the Anchor Borrowers Scheme (ABS), administered by the Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with states under which loans are given to farmers to improve agricultural production. The loan is repaid as the participants sell their yields after harvest to off-takers. Whether agricultural production would continue to improve and add to the growth of the GDP is dependent on the continuous success of the scheme and more. This is because the Anchor Borrowers Scheme farmers are not the only farmers involved in agriculture. Many had been involved in this critical sector even before the country slid into recession. In fact, The ABS farmers are just a small percentage of Nigerians who heeded the calls of the government and invested their funds in agriculture. 

The back-to-the-farm slogan is still sounding stridently, but how is government helping those who invested their own funds to ensure that their investments are not lost and their farming zeal don’t die prematurely?

Feelers from the farms do not suggest the majority smallholder investors would be able to hold on for long in view of the emerging challenges.

I am aware that there is glut in catfish farming market at the moment. The price per kilogramme of catfish, which was as high as N800 a few months back has plunged to about N500.

The quantity of matured fish available for sale is much more than the sellers can buy. And our fish processing capacity is poor. The cost of fish feeds is very high. Some farmers are resorting to selling at a loss as they cannot continue to feed their mature fish stock. Ironically, while Nigerians engaging in aquaculture are groaning, importation of fish for local consumption continues.  

Smallholder poultry farmers have similarly been facing the challenges of high cost of feeds and low sales in recent times. Many poultry layer farmers in some government farm estates have stopped production as they find the venture unprofitable with the high cost of feeds. 

The experience in crop production is not very different. I belong to several agric platforms online whose members constantly advertise for farm workers. Nigerians still don’t want to work on the farms. Many are only interested in making quick money without sweat.

Rather than engage in hard work, our youths are in money rituals, yahoo yahoo or sports betting. Many of the workers on farms in the South-west are non-Nigerians recruited from Benin Republic.

The economic downturn, which affected the value of the naira discouraged many of the foreigner farm workers from coming to work in the country in the current farming season.

The above are just snippets of the challenges impeding agricultural production. Are those raising hopes of end to recession aware of these and more challenges? What impact will they have on total recovery from recession?

Re: Led by the Devil

Frustration over dysfunctional institutions of government is the major factor responsible for ubiquitous evil committed on daily basis in Nigeria. A functional and healthy educational system, for instance, that will champion MORAL rebirth in the country, will definitely bring sanity to the polity. Our children will be gainfully engaged/employed, after school instead of being idle hands in the devils’ workshop. Government must wake up to their responsibility to the citizenry

–Tuoyo Tai

Your guess on how Nigerians are getting remote-controlled by the devil now is very alarming, despite the number of churches and mosques we have across the country. At times, I do wonder, if we really have God in our minds as we pretend to in our various places of worships! Who are we deceiving, God or human beings? The day of reckoning is coming with the rate of atrocities being recorded everyday in the dailies.

–Yohanna Galadima, Kaduna.

All these evil happenings, who is to be blame? It has becoming embarrassing to the nation and something has to be done to arrest the ugly acts happenings all over Nigeria, which can discourage intending investors. l plead with local and state governments to collaboratee with the federal government to fight insecurity. The security agencies should also live up to expectation and ensure that those sponsoring evil acts are brought to book to serve as deterrent to others. The three tiers should create jobs for unemployed Nigerians because as they say, ‘an idle mind is devil’s workshop’.

–Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia.        

Don’t mind them, Devils in human clothing! My people say, “ekwe yaesu! (when you agree, things begin to happen). Things begin to happen, the good and the man, depending on the state of the mind. It does appear that because of poor leadership, observed by even teenagers, life begins to lose value to the point of senselessness. In such a situation, anything goes. I cringe with the kinds of news we hear these days attributable to the “Devil”. We are just impossible in this clime. It’s our dilemma. Only we can heal ourselves.

–Tony Enyinta, Isuikwuato, Abia State.

Abdulfatah, you really touched on some salient reasons why the devil seems to be winning. The trend is global and not limited to Nigeria. North Korea’s hydrogen bomb tests, which are polarising world powers against one another might eventually initiate another world war that might be all consuming. North Korea did not get to her devilish point suddenly but through gradual processes, unchallenged or cautioned, just like the happenings in Nigeria today, in line with one of your adduced reasons, were not curtailed by those who should nip the evil deeds in the board. Why is politics defined as a dirty project more than the ploy of politicians to win election at all costs; using youths to maim and kill their opponents to achieve their political desires? The way a man makes his bed he lies on it. The sins of today were created by the failures of those who were in charge of affairs in the past to streamline life and living along sane and right paths; right from family level to leadership platform at all podiums of human endeavours. But if whatever has a beginning must have an end, which leaves sorrow and pain with those close to the afflicted, one might douse his pains of devilish acts with that since there is no other option. What does one make of a murderer gaining pardon after a few years in prison for his offence other than encouraging others to engage in such an act; believing they might eventually be spared in the end? When God created man, He gave him wisdom to know evil from good. That was to make man avoid falling into the ploys of the devil. Apart from that, He made laws to direct humans to avoid evil deeds. So, whatever a man does is his choice. Fortunately, God also warned that when unusual things start happening, they signal the end of time. Does that not state what is happening now?

–Lai Ashadele.

It is beyond one’s imagination to see the level of criminality going on in the country. Nigeria is fantastically wicked.

–Obienu Ikeja.

Though very painful to admit, it is no longer an exaggeration to say that morality has long been consigned to the backseat by majority of Nigerians. Wicked acts and brazen selfishness appear to have taken absolute control of the minds of many to the extent that a God-fearing citizen is considered a weakling or a fool. The reason for this state of affairs should not be far fetched to careful observers. It is because institutions that have the responsibility to mould, guide and instill good morals and discipline in the society have all abandoned their roles. Parents today do not care how their children make the kind of money they shower them with knowing full well that these their offsprings have no legitimate means of coming by such wealth. These days a parent proudly and boastfully goes to his or her child’s school to warn a teacher never again to punish his or her child for any form of misdemeanour. In turn, the teachers and schools abandon the children to their fate and concentrate on guiding them towards passing exams only. In our country today, churches and mosques spring up everywhere but what are majority of them preaching? Most times, they preach what their members would like to hear and not the undiluted word of God. The governments that possesse the constitutional duty and authority to moderate the behavior of citizens are no longer concerned. As long as they share money monthly in Abuja and increase rates arbitrarily and coerce the citizens to pay, all is well. The same governors that refuse to sign the execution of condemned criminals in the name of human rights are the same people that convert the funds meant for the development of their states to personal use leaving the hospitals in their respective states without drugs and medical staff go for months without pay, giving room for constant strikes that lead to the death of poor citizens in droves. You can therefore see, Abdulfatah, that it is our society that abandoned its children to the devil and it has no choice but to embrace them; and that is very sad. All hope is not lost, however. Morality and humaneness can still be restored if families eschew greed and arrogance; if schools are allowed to play their part in the upbringing of their pupils beyond academics; if the religious bodies revert to preaching the word of God and those in government do the needful. Thanks.

–Emma Okoukwu


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July 2018
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