Story by: Ajibade Morakinyo Temilorun
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) data, South Africa has regained the title of Africa’s largest economy; two years after Nigeria rebased its GDP to claim the spot. Recalculation by IMF put South Africa on top because the rand has strengthened against the dollar. But Nigeria’s currency has fallen sharply since a peg to the dollar was dropped.
Although, there is no much difference between the two countries, South Africa’s economy is worth around $301 billion (£232 billion) and Nigeria comes in at $296 billion. Using last year’s IMF figures and this year’s currency exchange numbers, technically puts South Africa back on top.
When the economy of Nigeria, is “technically in recession” as disclosed by research and the Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, the repercussion, hardship, should be felt by all Nigerians. But yet, some so called leaders, who claimed the responsibilities of “boss of life” never bother about how the masses are doing with the hardship, the recession has brought, because they are not affected due to huge amount they collect every month as “salary” without considering the dismal performance of the once largest economy in Africa.
Meanwhile, the fact that there is no permanent recession fosters the hope that Nigeria will not remain in this harsh economic climate permanently. The recession which came as a result of slump in global oil prices has hit Nigerians hard. This is because the government depends on oil sales for about 70% of its revenues.
However, some economic experts have stated that the nation’s leaders have not diversified the economy, in other to find a way round the troubled time.
More recently, they have tried, and failed, to prop up the naira, which has had a ruinous effect on the foreign exchange reserves and any reputation it might have had of being fiscally responsible. But how long will this recession last? How will Nigeria return to its previous status of largest economy?
Experts, who spoke separately to the Boss believe that one of the basic measures to put in place to check recession in Nigeria, is to analyze the real cause of recession and then implement steps to avoid or rectify reasons for recession, just as research shows that recession can only be avoided through the implementation of collective measures by local state and national governments on time.
In his view, the senator representing Lagos-West Senatorial District and Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Solomon Adeola, said that urgent measures should be introduced to tackle the current economic menace.
“It is worrisome that governments at all levels are not treating the issue of recession with the urgency it required to ensure that its duration is not unduly prolonged with untold suffering and even deaths for majority of our people.”
Also, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, a career economist, advised Nigeria to start producing goods, consumed locally as a way out the current recession.
He stated that the government and people of Nigeria should go into agriculture to make food available and affordable, saying that “These measures when applied would not only stimulate the economy to create jobs, more industries, markets and income, but also facilitate its quick recovery from the prevailing doldrums. There may not be respite for the nation if Nigeria continue to import heavily, the goods being consumed locally at a great drain to the foreign exchange,” he said.
Lending his voice, a Development Economist, Dr. Chidi Onuoha, stated in an interview that the solution for Nigeria to come out of the current economic recession is investment in renewable energy.
He added that policymakers had not discovered the secret in renewable energy, and how it could help to restore the economy.
“What we are doing now is educating the government to appropriate money towards renewable energy which is not cumbersome. The technology is not expensive; the price is coming down now; so, it is good for us to invest in it to boost the economy,’’ he said.
He shared his view on the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) report which stated that South Africa had overtaken Nigeria as the biggest economy and advised the country to invest in renewable energy.
Onuoha said among other objectives of the Sustainable Energy Practitioners Association of Nigeria (SEPAN) is the intention to encourage the Federal Government to achieve 5,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020 through its advocacy work.
In Nigeria, agriculture and telecoms are two of the biggest economic sectors which saw growth in the second quarter of this year; though this was slower than previously, and stakeholders believe it should be tapped to cushion the effects of the biting recession.
Agriculture, which accounts for one fifth of Nigeria’s GDP, saw growth of 2.5 percent in the second quarter of this year while the services sectors, worth 50 percent of GDP, shrank by 1.3 percent year on year, also in the second quarter of 2016.
Even as the majority of Nigerians are groaning under the yoke of recession, and the Federal Government engaged in unending rounds of borrowing, huge salaries are paid the Nigerian lawmakers.
It has been totally described as outrageous that a Nigerian senator earns three times more than the US President. While it is breathtaking to know that it will take an average Nigerian worker 1, 638 days to earn the annual salary of a senator! This is according to investigation by Economic Confidential.
Indisputable facts have revealed that senators in Nigeria earn higher than any group of government officials in any known country of the world. Countries where politics is carried out more fairly and seriously never dream to earn what their Nigerian counterparts are earning even in the next many decades.
Though nobody actually deserves such hyper inflated pay pack as the ones given to senators in Nigeria, Nigerians would have been left with a little bit of consolation if these lawmakers perform their duties efficiently, but the reverse is the case.
After taking a look at the breakdown of the monthly official income of a senator in Nigeria below, one will be left with no doubt that Nigeria is one of the most selfishly wasteful countries of the world, and which has added more issues to the hardship, occasioned by the recession the country is into.
In fact, analyzing the titles of the various allowances leaves one’s head spinning and his ear tingling, especially in this time of hardship occasioned by recession. It is hard to imagine stuffs like “hardship” allowance, “Newspaper” allowance etc among other spurious allowances. If all senators should spend half of the monthly “Newspaper” allowance on buying newspapers, obviously, all vendors in Nigeria would really be rich.
Monthly Gross Salary of a Nigerian Senator: Basic Salary (B.S)– N2,484,245.50; Hardship Allowance (50% of B.S) – N1,242,122.70; Constituency allowance (200% of B.S) – N4,968,509.00; Furniture Allowance (300% of B.S) – N7,452,736.50; Newspapers Allowance (50% of B.S) – N1,242,122.70; Wardrobe Allowance (25% of B.S) – N621,061.37; Recess Allowance (10% of B.S) – N248,424.55; Accommodation (200% of B.S) – N4,968,509.00; Utilities (30% of B.S) – N828,081.83; Domestic Staff (75% of B.S) – N1,863,184.12; Entertainment (30% of B.S) – N828,081.83; Personal Assistance (25% of B.S) – N621,061.37; Vehicle Maintenance Allowance (75% of B.S) – N1,863,184.12; Leave Allowance (10% of B.S) – N248,424.55; Severance gratuity (300% of B.S) – N7,452,736.50; Motor Vehicle Allowance (400% of B.S) – N9,936,982.00.
Every Four Years; Senators’ salary per month – N2,456,647.7; Total = N29,479,749 * 109 Senators; Grand Total = N3,264,329,264.10; A senator’s annual salary = over N182 million
The breakdown above does not include: the quarterly unaccountable constituency allowances (27 million for each house of rep. member. 38 million for each senators.), their individual convoy of tinted bulletproofs dozens of brand new Jeeps, some unnamed backyard moneys, some big and fat handy envelops nor does it include ‘never to be known by the public’ moneys, not to talk of embezzlement and bribery etc. All these mismanagements are enough to bring and keep the country in recession.
The annual salary of the Senators and Representatives cost the Nigerian government over #76 billion which is about 25% of the nation’s annual budget?
However, the average salary of a Nigerian worker based on the National Minimum Wage is N18,000.00. So, the yearly salary is N18,000.00 x 12 = N216,000.00 ($1,333.00)
Remember, Yearly Salary of Nigerian Senator = $2,183,685.00.
Proportion: $2,183,685.00/$1,333.00 = 1,638
How therefore, can the lawmakers receive this huge amount monthly and the country’s economy won’t go bankrupt, or slide to recession? Despite the fact that Nigeria is still a developing country that borrows money to sustain its economy, yet the government does not bat an eyelid on the set back this money looting in the name of salaries is causing the Nigerian economy.
If this sort of official money looting can go on unperturbed in an arm of government that is supposed to be the watchdog to other arms, the financial misconduct that will be taking place in other arms will be unimaginable. If something is done about this madness, the present recession will be managed. And who says the lawmakers, as rich as they are at the moment cannot forgo a certain level of their so called salaries to address the current economic impasse before the former Africa’s largest economy slumps into Africa’s smallest economy.