Restoration of a Dream

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By Ladi Ayodeji

Nothing symbolizes the loss of faith in the Nigerian dream like the current Japa syndrome; the tendency of our youth to migrate abroad in search of greener pastures in more prosperous climes.
The point must be made that people always travel or migrate in search of better opportunities. In all countries, the rural urban sprawl has always been a problem, leading to congestion in local metropolitan areas because of crime surge due to unemployment, eruption of shanties because of inadequate housing and other worrisome issues related to living conditions.
However, the severe hardships that came in the wake of the Covid 19 global pandemic has destabilized the world economy, and almost all countries are still reeling in the after effects of the lockdown that ensued to contain.
Fragile economies in the Third World countries like Nigeria were the worst hit, even though, the Buhari administration did fairly well in containing the Covid 19 spread, the recovery rate has been slow, coupled with the fact that the new global emphasis on renewable energy following the climate change crisis has impacted negatively on crude oil export our major foreign exchange earner.
Almost all through the eight year tenure of the previous administration, loans were frequently taken to finance the recurring budget deficits. Consequently, about 98 percent of our revenue is now being used to service our massive loan commitments.
Since the country is hard-pressed to survive on a paltry two percent remnant of its income, the economy is facing an unprecedented crisis. Matters are not helped by a Presidential system that is not only too expensive to run, but is unsuitable for a complex nation like Nigeria.
Only the ruling elites are able to survive today in this country because the system takes care of the governing elites.
Youth understand this exclusion and have resorted to this mass exodus to Europe and America in search of better life. Trouble is, their host nations do not welcome foreigners with open arms except those who have unique skills or those with the capacity to pay for expensive education as a means of getting temporary visas that guarantees work permits after graduation.
The challenge here is the growing hardships of living in Nigeria, especially in the wake of the fuel subsidy removal and the fall out, and the spectre of travelling abroad at a high cost. It’s common now for parents to sell houses to raise money to send their children abroad where they hope to secure a better future for their wards. Is this this sensible? That question is left for individuals to answer. What is clear is that people are seeking realistic options to secure their future.
Everything in Nigeria is too centralised. Presidents have promised restructuring on the campaign trail but do nothing when they are elected. The new government is no different from its predecessors in this regard. The government is the only key player and for things to work, there must be political will to devolve power so that governance can enable local private industry work better.
Since inauguration, President Tinubu has been traveling from one foreign country to another seeking favour from investors. However, if your house is not in order how can you properly host visitors? The reason why young people are leaving is because they have lost faith in the government.
To restore public trust and confidence, the government might want to show prudence and cut the size of government. In Malawi, President Chakwera has cut government travel till the end of their government year. That is something we should adopt here. There is nothing the president is doing that his foreign ministers and ambassadors cannot do even better. Optics are very important. The president should stay in the country and make sure things are working smoothly.
The legislature is over bloated as it is and we have too many redundant security agencies. The country needs harmonisation and focus on the efficiency of basic amenities. If there are good and secure road networks, people can travel cheaply across the country to conduct business and see loved ones.
If there are good rail networks that crisscross the entire 36 states, goods and people can move better making for free roads, if there is reliable electricity, businesses can make more savings instead of burning it on fuel and fixing of generators. If the foreign exchange market is more transparent and FX dollars are readily available, international business will be smooth. If the ports are not rife with corruption, goods can be cleared easily without extra added costs to the final consumer. These things are not rocket science, we simply need a government with the spine to see things through. Then the economy can be revived and this mass exodus of our young people can stop.