While most Nigerians are bitterly and seriously complaining about the standard of living, particularly worsened by the pandemic outbreak, it is important to discuss reasons why the federal government cannot at this time, fund the accounts of all citizens of the country like most will want to happen.
This is not to say the government is not obligated to cater for its citizens or ensure their welfare. As a matter of fact, the government is expected to do quite a lot in helping alleviate hunger primarily, during this lockdown that’s fast spreading across all nations.
To start with, we should note that not all funds and donations made to Nigerian government towards the containment of the virus is available or accessible to the government. While the government has been made the recipient of these funds in general terms, in reality, the Coalition Against Coronavirus Disease (CACOVID) has exclusive access to most funds.
In addition, the united nation in Nigeria is in charge of the disbursement of the newly allocated 21 billion naira to the government. This is to show that the spending of the government does not go as unchecked as we may like to think.
The revenue of the federal Republic of Nigeria has greatly reduced, no thanks to the drastic fall in price of crude oil internationally, also influenced by the economic meltdown partially caused by the pandemic outbreak. This means that while the government earns less, it is expected to spend more during this period.
Revenue from the government could have been greatly supported by tax money of tax payers but it is no news that only a few percentage of Nigerians pay tax, a habit that is frowned at and highly punishable by most developed and developing countries.
Understanding the financial incapacitation of the government as it may seem, and requesting a universal pay of 20,000 to all citizens across board may be quite unrealistic.
Nigeria has a population of almost 200 million, doing the mathematics, it will require trillions of naira to pay all Nigerians that sum of money. That’s almost half of the proposed 2020 budget which is currently running on a deficit as a result of fall in oil price.
Except we would like to encourage more debts and loans for the country, such funding may not be realistic for a developing country like Nigeria.
Also, according to some economic rules and simulations, an unchecked pay of money directly to individuals might lead to inflation. It is estimated that such funding might be accompanied by drastic increase in price of food items which may in turn lead to devaluation of our currency. At this critical period, such a move on a struggling economy like Nigeria’s might lead to melt down.
With all these being said, we must also discuss the obligations of the government to the citizens. The government is not completely absolved of all its responsibilities to its citizens due to the singular excuse of reduction in revenue.
Issues like security, which is a major concern at this point is the sole responsibility of the government. Citizens are not meant to turn vigilantes in order to protect themselves simply because they are not getting enough security from the required and appropriate force. It is quite unfortunate that such is the situation at hand in most states of the country.
It also greatly saddens the heart that the little effort made by the government is not felt by the citizens as a result of inefficient control and checks. Most food items and relief packages released for the citizens hardly reach them in full. While it is still a mystery as to where all these food items are being kept or how they are stolen, the effect is on the citizens who get insignificant relief packages that can hardly relieve hunger.
Now is the time where necessary subsidies can come in handy. This will help citizens purchase more with little money, reduce the cost of living and also increase the standard of living. Subsidies can come on most utility bills, say electricity for example.
Most workers of the private sector also fear that wages and salaries will not be paid during this lockdown. While some companies have made that clear, others are still silent on the issue but the danger looms ahead irrespective. The government and appropriate union and bodies can look into this to protect the rights and interests of the labour force.
While it may sound very interesting to hear that the Federal or state government of Nigeria is paying all citizens a certain amount, there are more important contributions from the government that may help ease the burden of the citizens and these are what we should direct our voices and energies towards, even as much as we make the job easier for the government by observing social distancing.
What do you think about this topic? Let’s hear your opinions in the comments section.