When the direct effects of the Coronavirus pandemic eventually whittled down, and the country take stocks of its damaging effects, on both the psyche of the people and economy of the country, the spiral effects that has affected the corporate entity called Nigeria and her people, the stark realities will and may not be that palatable for all.
Aside the untold damage the pandemic has done to the national economy, which has fallen under the threat of another depression in the third quarter of the year, the people of the country, would also have a traumatized tales to tell. It would be recalled that the country slipped into a terrible depression by fourth quarter of 2014 and did not managed to wriggled out of it until second quarter of 2016.
According to a top Civil Servant in the Federal Ministry of Finance, who spoke to our Correspondent off camera in Lagos last week, ‘the nation’s economy is comatose, as we speak’.
He analysed the situation further: ‘Between March and July, the country did not sell up to 10 million barrels of Crude Oil. And once the Oil and Gas sector slip into distress, the nation should expect the worst’.
Also the Internally Generated Revenue of all tiers of the government had dwindled to the base level. Most state governments, outside Lagos are already finding it very difficult to pay salaries and wages. As at mid-September, most states in the South West are yet to pay August salaries.
It would be recalled that Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Chairman of the Governor’s Forum and also the Governor of Ekiti State had earlier in May raised an alarm about the possibilities of the States finding it difficult to meet their financial obligations. He alluded this scary situation to the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic in the country and the subsequent shutting down of the economy.
Also many companies have started laying off workers. The ugly trend was started by Access Bank PLC but the regulatory body, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) moved in quickly to nip the move in the bud. But subsequent developments in the banking sector showed that the situation is still foggy. Most banks were apparently not comfortable with their staff strength. A source within an old generation bank told FEFERITY MAGAZINE that before the end of the year, the ‘shedding of personnel loads shall resume’.
Also most blue chips’ companies are currently operating under serious financial tension. Industry watchers also ‘believed that by the end of the year, there would be lots of downsizing of work force’.
With the states governments unable to pay workers, and the organized private sector also groping with financial instabilities, the spiral effects have spilled to the larger society. Across various markets in Lagos metropolis, the sellers were full of complaints and hisses. There were generally low sales all over.
However, the toll of the pandemic appeared to be more brutally feasible among the youths of the country, most particularly, the tertiary institutions’ students.
FEFERITY MAGAZINE tried to peep into how this most vulnerable group are surviving the economy downturn in most homes. Our findings are mostly not encouraging. We found out that most of the boys are now fully into the nefarious but loathsome ‘Yahoo Internet scamming and sundry other fraudulent practices, the ladies have taken to the equally notoriously popular campuses form of prostitution called ‘runs’ to survive.
Our checks also discovered the new form of ‘runs’ and scamming by these restless youths. The ‘Yahoo Boys’ now employs the fall out effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud unsuspecting victims.
They send various messages to cell numbers asking for account’s details to enable them received ‘palliatives’ from some nebulous non-governmental organizations or government’s agencies.
Once they get the account’s details they strike by cleaning up the victim’s savings.
The ladies are operating differently. While some of them also collaborate with the males ‘Yahoo Boys’ counterparts, some other frontally faced the challenge by luring men into cozy relationships in exchange for monetary rewards.
They operate differently from those engaging in old fashioned crude prostitution. These ones are on the social media and could be found in shopping malls, eateries and other decent entertainment spots. They posed as decent ladies, but could be venomous when they strike.
Another area badly affected is the gaming business. Operators of different lottery games and soccer betting we visited were seen wearing somber and depressing looks. They make their earnings based on numbers of players who put in money and lost. But now, less and less patrons were registered. And this trend happened continuously on daily basis.
Virtually all sectors were affected by the economic hardship currently ravaging the country. Commercial transports workers were seen commenting bitterly in groups at various motor parks. At the CMS motor park, a NURTW official who identified himself as Baba Suraj told our correspondent that ‘no amount we charge as transport fares could be enough to sustain us in this business’.
He claimed further that with the recent ‘hike in fuel and energy rates, the transport business could be in danger’.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government deregulated the Premium Motor (PMS) popularly called petrol last month. This move jerked up the price per litre from 143-145 to 160-162 naira. Although, analysts believe the deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector is long overdue if the humongous corruption that persists during the subsidy regime is to be tackled headlong, yet the masses were riled by the immediate spiralling effect.
Same goes with power rates. A kilowatt was rated 22 naira before the September 1 loosening of the subsidy. Now it would be rated 66 naira per kilowatt.
These policies no doubt would affect the purchasing power of an average Nigerian. With threats of job losses here and there, with poor wages and salaries here and there, and to scandalize it all, is the debilitating effects of the massive unemployment in the country.
Surely, this is hard times for Nigerians.
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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