A Development Economist, Prof. Chiwuike Uba, has predicted the likelihood of further economic hardship in 2024, and urged Nigerians to spend every kobo they earn wisely.
Uba, the Executive Director, Amaka Chiwuike Uba Foundation (ACUF) Initiative for Policy and Governance, an NGO, gave the advice while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu on Tuesday.
The economist said that considering the prevailing cost-of-living crisis and the mounting pressure on incomes, it is crucial for Nigerians to redirect their spending towards essential and affordable indulgences.
According to him, it is imperative to prioritise prudent use of resources, as Nigeria may encounter even more profound economic challenges in 2024.
He noted that a prudent management of personal finances is not only profitable, but also ensures stability and sustainability in the face of economic adversity.
“To provide a deeper understanding of the prevailing conditions, recent data from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics paints a vivid picture of the current state of affairs.
“According to the data, a staggering 62.9 per cent of the population, which equates to nearly 133 million people, is multi-dimensionally poor, constantly experiencing various forms of deprivations that extend beyond the purely financial realm.
“This means that a significant portion of the population endures hardships spanning multiple dimensions, with over 40 per cent of the people facing monetary deprivation alone.
“Moreover, the alarming inflation rate of 28.20 per cent as of November 2023 further underscores the exorbitant costs associated with basic goods and services,” he said.
Uba noted that despite these dire circumstances, one might hope that Nigerians, especially those most affected, would exercise greater fiscal caution, adding that regrettably such prudence and restraint are not commonly observed among Nigerians.
He said that counter intuitively, the spending habits of Nigerians, regardless of their financial standing, seem to follow patterns akin to those exhibited by governments at various levels when it comes to managing public resources.
“The persistence of these spending habits despite the afflictions of a struggling economy and widespread poverty serves as a reminder of the complexities embedded within the Nigerian society.
“It highlights the intricate interplay between cultural practices, economic circumstances, and the tendency to emulate the behaviors of those in power.
“While the expected frugality during the holiday (yuletide) season may seem logical, societal norms often steer individuals down a different path, leading to extravagant expenditures even in the face of adversity,” he said.
The economist said that despite the nation’s current state of austerity, where fiscal prudence should be paramount, the government continues to squander precious public resources as though the economy were in the golden age of prosperity.
“Disregarding the dire consequences on the overall wellbeing of the economy and the Nigerian populace, both national and sub-national governments persistently accumulate public debts in order to satisfy their insatiable appetite for wasteful expenditures.
“Simultaneously, many individuals are burdening themselves with debts in a desperate attempt to fulfill their yuletide shopping desires.
“At the end of each year, numerous employers bestow bonuses upon their employees, which, instead of being saved for the rainy day, are impulsively squandered during the festive season,” he said.