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Many of the New Deal acts or agencies came to be known by their acronyms. For example, the Works Progress Administration was known as the WPA, while the Civilian Conservation Corps was known as the CCC. Many people remarked that the New Deal programs reminded them of alphabet soup.
It is not an exaggeration to say that each and every time posterity will tell Nigeria’s story that it would unarguably start from a political standpoint by saying that it is a multi-ethnic and culturally sundry federation made of 36 autonomous states with a Federal Capital Territory (FCT). It will add that its most challenging epoch in history was witnessed under the watchful eyes of the leadership of the ruling party called the All Progressives Congress (APC) party, which controlled the executive arm of government and held majority seats at both the Senate and House of Representatives in parliament, and a majority of the States.
Without a doubt, it will clarify to listeners when the time comes that there was a time Presidential and General Elections to elect a new President, Federal, and State, Legislators, and Governors were scheduled for February 2023 as President Muhammadu Buhari was to complete his second term in office on May 29th, 2023. Posterity will no doubt make his listeners understand that since 2011 that a haunting war, which invariably wrought the security landscape was waged against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the northeastern part of the country, in addition to incessant cases of banditry and kidnappings in the northwest and some parts of the southwest. Couple with the foregoing, the fact that the southeast continued to witness unrest resulting from separatist agitations cannot be ignored in the storytelling about Nigeria’s past, particularly in its most challenging era.
In fact, posterity will never forget to tell Nigeria’s story from an economic perspective as it would say that following a pandemic-induced recession in 2020 that Nigeria’s economic growth recovered but macroeconomic stability weakened. It would add that amid global commodity shocks, a depreciating currency, trade restrictions, and monetization of the deficit that inflation surged and pushed millions of Nigerians into poverty. Sad enough, it will in the same vein, inform its listeners how Nigeria from 2021 to a particular year that cannot be determined in this context, was unable to benefit from the surging global oil prices, as oil production fell to historic lows and petrol subsidy continued to consume a larger share of the gross oil revenues.
In the same vein, Posterity will tell its audience that in 2018, 40% of Nigerians (83 million people) lived below the poverty line, while another 25% (53 million) were vulnerable, and would add that with Nigeria’s population growth that outpaced poverty reduction, that the number of Nigerians that lived in extreme poverty almost rose to 7.7 million between 2019 and 2024.
On a sadder note, Posterity will tell his listeners that while the economy was projected to grow at an average of 3.2% from 2022 to 2024 that the growth outlook was subjected to downside risks that included further declines in oil production and heightened insecurity. It will further explain that, meanwhile, continued scarcity of foreign exchange and tighter liquidity affected the economic activity in the non-oil sector and undermined the overall macroeconomic stability, and would add that the uncertainty was accompanied by high inflation and continued fiscal and debt pressures.
As Posterity would narrate from the perspective of development challenges, it would say while Nigeria made some progress in socio-economic terms within some years, its human capital development ranked 150 of 157 countries in the World Bank’s 2020 Human Capital Index. It will also in his story tell them that Nigeria continued to face massive developmental challenges, including the need to reduce the dependency on oil and diversify the economy, address insufficient infrastructure, build strong and effective institutions, as well as address governance issues and public financial management systems.
Be that as it may, posterity will also tell his audience that inequality, in terms of income and opportunities, for a long period remained high and adversely affected poverty reduction and that the lack of job opportunities was at the core of high poverty levels, regional inequality, and social and political unrest, even as high inflation took a toll on household’s welfare and high prices in 2020-2022, and which pushed an additional 8 million Nigerians into poverty.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is not an exaggeration to say that the level of suffering that not a few Nigerians are passing through is not pretty different from what humanity experienced in the great depression unarguably manifested as an economic downturn worldwide, and that began in 1929 and lasted until about 1939.
In fact, throughout the country, Nigerians are worrying about inflation or the rate of increase in the cost of living, and this concern about the cost of living has become a prime consideration in general elections because electorates want competent governments to whose hands they commit their expectations.
At this juncture, it is expedient to ask, “Who among the 18 presidential aspirants ahead of the February 25, 2023, presidential election do you think is most competent, and in whose hand the expectations of the people should be committed?”
To my view, the answer to the foregoing question cannot be farfetched as Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) truly has what it takes to take back Nigeria from the hands of political vampires, and revamp its economy for the betterment of the people once again in the same way Franklin Delano Roosevelt, often referred to by his initials FDR, who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945, revamped America’s economy in the era of economic depression.
It will be recalled that in the summer of 1932 that Roosevelt as governor of New York was nominated as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. In his acceptance speech, Roosevelt addressed the problems of the depression by telling the American people that, “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.” In the election that took place in the fall of 1932, Roosevelt won by a landslide.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is not an exaggeration to say that Obi’s campaign promises are collectively a reminiscence of Roosevelt’s new deal wherein he promised the American people that he had the capacity to revamp the American economy that was, to a large extent, ravaged by the great depression. As truly promised, the economy began to take shape immediately after his inauguration in March 1933. Based on the assumption that the power of the federal government was needed to get the country out of the depression, the first days of Roosevelt’s administration saw the passage of banking reform laws, emergency relief programs, work relief programs, and agricultural programs.
Later, a second New Deal was to evolve; it included union protection programs, the Social Security Act, and programs to aid tenant farmers and migrant workers. Many of the New Deal acts or agencies came to be known by their acronyms. For example, the Works Progress Administration was known as the WPA, while the Civilian Conservation Corps was known as the CCC. Many people remarked that the New Deal programs reminded them of alphabet soup.
By 1939, the New Deal had run its course. In the short term, New Deal programs helped improve the lives of people suffering from the events of the depression. In the long run, New Deal programs set a precedent for the federal government to play a key role in the economic and social affairs of the nation.
The Politics Of Comparing Buhari With Obasanjo -By Azuka Onwuka
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