By Don Domnic
To say that Nigeria is blessed is just stating the obvious. However, when you look around, those symbols of greatness are not taken for granted. The personalities who the world over respect and seek their knowledge and expertise we ignore.
The natural resources that we are endowed with we abuse and waste with impunity. Take for instance, petroleum. If this resource was belonging to an individual will he be refining it abroad?
Even the option of handing it over to a world-class manager to operate without inhibitions will be more reasonable than having to be importing refined products.
Nobody sells his oil palm bunches to go and buy processed oil.
Importation of all sorts of things has combined with other factors to make nonsense of our national currency and lowered our standard of living to unbearable levels. Yet we are not giving it appropriate attention that it deserves. Perhaps our leaders have lost hope in our ability to shore up with global trends and confidence in ourselves to be able to resolve this challenge. Otherwise all hands will be on deck.
What for instance informed the sharing of dollars during the national conventions of the PDP and APC as widely reported.
But let us not dissipate energy on that.
During the presidential debate between Chief MKO Abiola and Alhaji Ibrahim Tofa in 1993, the question of the economy came up. On resolving inflation and improving the standard of living of the National Republican Convention, NRC presidential candidate Ibrahim Tofa said that the economy was like the levers of a caterpillar which by carefully touching the levers you can use the machine to work.
As a wealthy man, he understood how the sectors and associated indices and metrics could be combined to achieve our goal. He is right in his analysis, but this is complex and may be difficult to understand by the common man.
On the other hand, Chief MKO Abiola said that his approach is to put food on the table of Nigerians. No doubt this appears simplistic and easier to appreciate. Of course this resonated with Nigerians. The rest is history.
This issue has been like a plaque to the country. A former CBN governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, canvassed fixing the issue. Dr Okonjo-Iweala pushed for rebasing the value of our currency.
All said we are still in the doldrums. The issue is how can we improve on the status quo.
Numbers.com reports that for a family of four, the estimated monthly cost is 1,659 United States dollar or N689,461 without rent. For a single person it is 455 US D for a month. Thus they remark that the cost of living in Nigeria is on the average of 56.64 % lower in the US . Rent in Nigeria is on average 28.91% lower than in US.
Again Livincost.com, in her post, shows that the cost of living in Nigeria is 1.06 times more expensive than the world average. Thus Nigeria ranks 66th out of 197 countries in cost of living and 166th best country to live in.
This is what we should all be concerned about as the days go by. The need for all to play a role cannot be over-emphasized.
As a starting point the salaries and allowances of public office-holders should be reviewed downwards by the Salaries and Wages Commission. A guideline should be an average of what obtains in Ghana, South Africa and Egypt.
Even the worst economies of Africa now have more valuable exchange rates than Nigeria.