When an article in Vanguard was published on January 2016, about the Naira hitting its’ record lowest against the US Dollar in 43 years, it was both an alarming and arresting matter to me. Being in the profession of banking and financial services, I am familiar with the turbulent and challenging times the Naira is facing with its downward dive, but the statistical reference had me thinking. Our economic strength is largely based on crude oil export and with its prices falling, the sag in the economy has trickled down to the lowest level of our society.
With the current economic reality the market outlook is not very promising – unfortunately. Businesses are struggling to handle the crisis especially with the demand for dollar rising, while restrictions on imports are increasing hardship on the common man. So when people ask me the question – “What is your message to fellow Nigerians?” My message is simple – don’t resort to desperate measures even in hazardous times. We need to be optimistic and work on potential solutions for stabilizing the situation in hand.
For instance, the question of the devaluation of the Naira is a poignant matter that requires action. Is it a reasonable move or a desperate measure? Think of it logically. As Nigerians, we are a highly import dependent economy. Right from food grains and livestock products; we import mineral products, textile articles, rubber, chemicals, glass etc. So how exactly will the devaluation of the Naira help the common man in improving his living standards? Even for businesses, there will be lower foreign investments and no direct improvements in exports. So let’s not be impulsive or desperate in tackling the situation.
The fact that we must accept is that the currency fall of the Naira is going to adversely affect all of us without much discrimination. The natural and basic resources that the country has is shared by us all and it’s downsize is going to have its impact on everyone. What’s therefore a matter of concern, and hence requires some stern measures is, to use these resources intelligently. Even if that requires cutting down wants for needs, that’s what we should be working towards. Things today have become much tougher and as individuals in the same boat we should be mastering the art of prioritization. We just need to focus on being prudent in the use of resources and be able to differentiate between what we want and what we need.
So, let’s assume that the Naira does devalue. For a common man it translates to paying much more for a commodity than he would ordinarily have to part with. And that’s what I mean by being able to prioritize how and where to spend in such critical times. You don’t need a vacation at the moment, you want it; but you do need food on your table for survival. You don’t need to buy fancy new clothes for yourselves, but you need basic clothing to cover yourself. What we therefore must be able to comprehend is how to balance between a need and want.
What everyone therefore need at the moment and for the long-run is– (a) liquidity for taking care of daily obligations, so as to administer to the needs and (b) capital either in the form of financial capital or goodwill capital, to absorb this shock.
I therefore sincerely hope as a country we will be able to overcome these difficult times and grow wiser in ourselves with time.