Home Business Nigeria at a Crossroads: Addressing Economic Instability Amidst Crisis – Prof. Ekekwe

Nigeria at a Crossroads: Addressing Economic Instability Amidst Crisis – Prof. Ekekwe

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Nigeria at a Crossroads: Addressing Economic Instability Amidst Crisis

It was a sobering moment for many Nigerians when the New York Times ran a cover piece titled “A Resourceful Nation Buckles,” highlighting the severe challenges facing the country. The article painted a grim picture: “The pain is widespread. Unions strike to protest salaries of around $20 a month. People die in stampedes, desperate for free sacks of rice. Hospitals are overrun with women wracked by spasms from calcium deficiencies. The crisis is largely believed to be rooted in two major changes implemented by a president elected 15 months ago: the partial removal of fuel subsidies and the floating of the currency, which together have caused major price rises.”

The distress highlighted in the article reflects the dire situation on the ground. However, instead of fighting the press, it is crucial for Nigeria to respond with actionable solutions to improve the state of the economy. One immediate measure that could stem the bleeding is pegging the Naira at N1,000 to $1. This move would stabilize the currency, making it possible for companies to operate with more predictability and confidence.

### Addressing the Core Issues

The New York Times identified two critical factors contributing to Nigeria’s economic woes: the partial removal of fuel subsidies and the floating of the currency. Both have led to significant price increases, affecting the cost of living and doing business in Nigeria. Here are some proposed solutions to address these issues:

#### 1. Reverse the Floating of the Naira

The primary challenge with the Naira is not just its high exchange rate but its volatility. The fluctuating rate, currently ranging between N1,400 and N1,500 to the US dollar, creates uncertainty that hinders business planning and investment. Pegging the Naira would immediately address this volatility, providing a stable environment for investors and businesses. A stable exchange rate would reduce the speculative trading that exacerbates currency fluctuations and create a more predictable economic landscape.

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#### 2. Stabilize Energy Costs

Energy costs are another critical area that needs urgent attention. To support the industrial sector, Nigeria must reintroduce subsidies specifically for industrial customers, while allowing commercial and residential users to pay full rates. This targeted subsidy approach would help reduce production costs for manufacturers, enabling them to remain competitive and stabilize prices. However, to ensure that only genuine industrial users benefit, the subsidies should be provided through rebates. This system would minimize misuse and ensure that the support reaches those who need it most.

### Moving Forward

The economic challenges highlighted by the New York Times are severe, but they are not insurmountable. By taking decisive action to stabilize the Naira and manage energy costs, Nigeria can create a more stable economic environment that encourages investment and supports sustainable growth. The government must prioritize these measures to prevent further economic decline and ensure a better future for its citizens.

Pegging the Naira and stabilizing energy costs are not just economic strategies; they are essential steps towards restoring confidence in Nigeria’s economy. They will enable businesses to plan more effectively, reduce inflationary pressures, and ultimately improve the standard of living for ordinary Nigerians.

The New York Times article serves as a wake-up call, but it also provides an opportunity for reflection and action. Nigeria’s resourcefulness has never been in question, but it needs the right policies to harness its potential fully. By addressing the currency volatility and energy costs, Nigeria can start to turn the tide and build a more resilient and prosperous economy.

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Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe

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