Wednesday 29th March, 2017
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Of economy, pulpits and nollywood expectations

Of economy, pulpits and nollywood expectations

Sometime in 2016, the hashtag “#bringback­ourcorruption#” began to trend on the social media. Nigerians disenchanted with the dire state of the economy in the midst of a war on cor­ruption launched by the APC led federal government, be­gan to wax nostalgic about yesteryears, the glory days of corruption. In their warped view, if the return of corrup­tion is what it will take to put food on their tables, they are all for it. Considering that the government of President Mu­hammadu Buhari had been in government for barely a year then, the campaign surely did not signify a policy failure on the part of government. No­body would reasonably expect the government to have re­suscitated the then comatose economy within so short a period.
Nor can it be argued that corruption has no direct bear­ing to the country’s economy slipping into recession. As the Acting chairman of the Eco­nomic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibra­him Magu declared recently, “About 90% of the cause of re­cession is corruption, because there was fund and people stole the funds and kept them where they cannot be reached. If we can lay hands on this hid­den wealth, it will be sufficient for us to get out of recession”.
In other words, the cam­paign did not arise because corruption is not an issue or that the President has de­monstrably failed to tackle our declining productivity as a nation. Rather, the #bring­backourcorruption# crusad­ers are, like us all, victims of the cumulative effect of new fad religion and Nollywood on our collective psyche. Nigeri­ans no longer believe in hard work and sacrifice as a path to success. To many Nigerians, the no pain, no gain mantra is outdated and not fit for the times. The new mantra is in­stant gratification and mira­cles. Patience and diligence is no longer a virtue.
New religion has destroyed our work ethics and the Nol­lywood industry has firmly cemented the connection be­tween the church and instant solution to problems. Reli­gious leaders in the churches and mosques have joined the witch doctors in preaching a gospel of instant prosperity over and above hard work and perseverance. At the expense of logic and wisdom, their adherents follow whatever in­structions they are given in or­der to achieve instant success. The Rev. Fr. Boniface Ezeoke of St. Agnes Catholic Church, Ichida, Anambra state recently encapsulated this in his hom­ily. According to the reverend father, “Our messages of in­stant gratification have cre­ated a generation of people, who only want to see instant results, immediate relief, and a painless profit. This is not the natural course of nature or a normal way of doing things”. Even then, the nollywood in­dustry has made this belief in instant results and immediate reliefs more popular among Nigerians. In all the home movies, the theme is the same. A visit by a character to the pastor or witch doctor pro­duces instant result with no further contribution from the character.
The damage to our psyche as a nation is in fact what has held us back as a country. Our desire to reap without sowing, eat without working and run without walking is the bane of our economic development. Past administrations deferred the restructuring of our econ­omy because Nigerians were not willing to bear the neces­sary pain that will accompany such restructuring. Against economic sense, the Nigerian state for decades, subsidized fuel consumption by the pop­ulace because the citizens have developed a sense of entitle­ment. Mounting evidences of sleaze and looting of the trea­sury by those in the corridors of power were ignored and the looters held up as manifesta­tions of God’s blessings and prosperity. Any government that tried in the past to cor­rect this trend and restore san­ity had been harangued out. A new government comes in with instant appeasement and is hailed as a messianic one. And the rot continued.
Today, we are presented with yet another chance to get it right. Yet again, some Nige­rians will have none of it and will go to any length to trun­cate any efforts towards lay­ing a solid foundation for the future. Such people are more interested in sharing the so-called national cake than in creating wealth. For them, consumption comes before production and profits before investment.
Yes, the economy is in dire straits. The citizens are suffer­ing. The government is work­ing very hard to reverse the rot and put the economy back on the path of growth. The citi­zens must understand howev­er that miracles and instant so­lutions have no place in nation building. We are where we are today because we had before now not taken the hard deci­sions to restructure the econ­omy. The government must be supported to do so now if we are going to enjoy the prospect of a long-term improvement in quality of life for every Nige­rian. According to the minis­ter of finance, Kemi Adeosun, Nigerians’ tax contribution to GDP is only 6%. That is one of the lowest anywhere in the world and reflects decades of the population’s unwillingness to contribute to government revenue. What economic mir­acles do we expect from gov­ernment if, as citizens, we do not pay our fair share of taxes? We are quick at comparing the living standards of Nigerians to those of other nations but forget (conveniently) to point out the disparities in tax com­pliance.
Years of deterioration in in­frastructure and the economy cannot be remedied overnight. Such only happen in Nol­lywood movies where one’s personal circumstances are reversed instantly on the in­tervention of a pastor, and that diabolic uncle or step-mother who had been responsible for that person’s woes immedi­ately confesses and dies and all that the person lost over the years is restored to him. Such do not happen in real life. It took a good two years for for­mer president Barack Obama’s policies to impact on the economy of the United States of America on his assumption of office in 2008. Americans kept faith with him, stayed the course and are better for it to­day.
Rebuilding infrastructure, dealing with corruption, se­curing lives and properties across the federation, restruc­turing the economy and fix­ing Nigeria generally is do­able. Patience and sacrifice is required however on the part of Nigerians. The government of the day must be encouraged and supported to see through its various programmes aimed at achieving the listed objec­tives.
Dr. Chinwe Ezejiofor, Execu­tive Director Green Women for Change and Empowerment Foundation (GWC) www.greenwomenforchange.org
Email: info@greenwomenfor­change.org

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