The Platform

Photo illustration by John Lyman

Nigeria’s recent political and economic policies have exacerbated national hardships, undermining development and causing widespread suffering.

“Nigeria go better” was the hopeful refrain coined by our forefathers. It echoed through the generations, handed down from parent to child. Yet today, we find ourselves asking: When will this hope be realized? Will it be under the current government that pledged rapid progress but instead has seemingly tripped at the starting line?

In truth, life for Nigerians has rarely been easy, and it took a significant downturn in 2023 when the head of Nigeria’s central bank decided to redesign the naira notes. This singular policy amplified the already profound hardships in Nigeria, the giant of Africa and its most populous nation, leading to an unprecedented situation where people were forced to buy currency. The move exacerbated an already malodorous economic atmosphere, setting an unfortunate record in the nation’s history.

Onwuka, a public affairs commentator, reflected on the past year, noting that Nigeria’s economy had struck the majority of its citizens so severely that merely surviving became a feat, as we were left to watch the minutes tick by, grateful just to have life and health.

The same year also saw one of Nigeria’s most chaotic elections, driven by widespread discontent with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its Muslim-Muslim ticket. The so-called reformist approach, instead of inspiring, disgusted many Nigerians, generating uproar both online and offline. Despite the turmoil, the election proceeded, and the “Renewed Hope” agenda of the APC emerged victorious over the previous “Next Level” promises.

I recall vividly the blatant complaints we had about Buhari’s administration, but it seems his successor has not been much of an improvement. During Buhari’s tenure, from 2015 to 2023, he avoided the controversial removal of the fuel subsidy, which helped keep petrol prices manageable. However, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu made it his first priority to eliminate this subsidy, achieving it within mere days of taking office.

This decision, made by a single individual for the entire nation, has resulted in widespread suffering, leaving no corner of Nigeria untouched by the ensuing anguish. Remarkably, our president shows no regret for this action, despite the significant backward step it represented for the country. He had, after all, made it clear before the election that, whether you like it or not, we are going to remove this subsidy. Nigerians are still struggling to recover from the impacts of this policy, with hardships persisting in every part of the country.

The World Bank defines food security as a state where all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. As President Tinubu approaches his first year in office, it is evident that he has not fulfilled this claim as outlined in his campaign promises.

Economically, Nigeria faces a significant increase in inflation, leading to a decline in the value of money. The naira continues to weaken, with the black market exchange rate now a staggering N1,350 to one U.S. dollar. This continuous devaluation reflects the failure of government policies, interest rates, and market trends to stabilize the economy.

Nigeria is a nation blessed with abundant natural resources, yet mismanagement and corruption have stunted its growth. The policymakers and government officials, tainted by corruption, have hindered progress in ways that have significantly set back national development. The last time Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was at its peak was in 2014, reaching $574.2 billion. Since then, it has declined, dropping to $493 billion in 2015. This decrease coincided with a change in government from Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, reflecting a broader trend of governmental instability impacting economic growth even at the state level.

Any minor loophole in policy decisions can have severe consequences for citizens and significantly impact national development. For example, in 2022, the “no work, no pay” policy under President Buhari resulted in the longest strike in the history of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), crippling the education sector and impeding progress in the country.

Abdulrasheed Akere is finishing his degree in Education Biology at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS). Abdulrasheed's articles have appeared in The Nation newspaper, the Nigerian Tribune, and The Liberalist, amongst others.