By Elder Tunde Babatunde
The striking headlines and the news items in several Nigerian newspapers of late have been on the economic recession affecting the nation. Also, among the populace, the radio and television commentators, public analysts, even on social media, the current topic of discussion nationwide is on the economic recession.
The grip-hold of the economic downturn on Nigerians has been overwhelming; it has overstretched and has also weighed down the strength of the citizenry.
Even, the social psyche of Nigerians, including the governments — the Federal, states and local governments — has been affected by these tales of economic woes. But this economic meltdown that has hit Nigeria is not limited to our country alone.
The economic recession is a global phenomenon, but what made that of Nigeria so pronounced is not far-fetched. I can describe it as a self-inflicted pain due to our over-reliance on the oil economy. In the period of oil boom, Nigeria failed woefully to diversify her economy and build it solidly on agrarian economics.
During the oil boom years, the country’s policy makers did not save for the rainy days. Instead, Nigeria became the consumer of all the consumable goods, including all sorts of food items which were imported into the country indiscriminately, and not a producing country of goods and services.
The reality struck our faces when suddenly, the global oil price plunged and nose-dived. And its negative impacts have affected, if not nearly paralysed all government activities. Several states and local governments in the country are now finding it difficult to pay the salaries and allowances of their workers, which are now in arrears of several months.
Today, many Nigerians are wearing hard faces all about, with no correspondent happiness moods of the oil-booming years when Nigerians were adjudged as the happiest people on earth. Even governments, in their various levels, especially, the Federal Government, have nearly forsaken part of their social and constitutional responsibilities to her citizens, especially the annual National Honours Awards to the merited Nigerians and nationalised citizens of the country.
My candid advise to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is that it should not succumb to the hands of the current economic recession and abandon its constitutional obligation. This is very important because, in spite of the blue sky, there is still also a white and shinning sky. Therefore, fulfilling the constitutionally-imposed obligation of the National Honours Awards, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is ironically telling the economic recession point plank that it will soon be defeated and that it cannot hold down the government in fulfilling one of its constitutional responsibilities to Nigeria and her citizens.
The National Honour Awards is another means of putting smiles on the faces of the people in the midst of this recession.
The beneficiaries of the previous National Honours Awards have become good ambassadors and useful agents whose pieces of advice and supports have contributed immensely to the economic development of the country. And they are still wooing their foreign partners to invest in the country.
President Buhari is, therefore, implored to see the advantages of giving out National Honours Awards in its right perspective.
(Babatunde is a Public Affairs Analyst. He writes from Iwo Road, Ibadan)