By Oluwatoyin Hawal Momolosho, Ilorin

Nigeria’s economy is reaching a point of unpredictable future. Masses are discontent with their current situation as the economic conditions of the country are nothing to write home about. Incessant rise in prices of goods and services as well as essential commodities necessary for running the day-to-day activities of every individual is the order of the day.

Taking action is necessary to address the situation, as those who assist others now struggle to sustain themselves. Waiting for divine or human intervention is no longer acceptable; individuals must advocate for their interests and face the challenges presented by the country.

Onabanjo Abel Anuoluwapo, a member of the National Youth Service Corps, expressed concern about Nigeria’s economic upheaval, “There’s little to say except to acknowledge that the country’s economy is not in good shape. Everyone is affected, and the strain is palpable. While acknowledging the economic challenges facing the country, we must remain resilient and collaborate to find solutions that uplift our community and pave the way for a brighter future. We can explore innovative ideas, invest in education and training, and support local businesses. With a positive mindset, we can foster a stronger and more prosperous community.”

He further highlighted the impact of recent economic changes, particularly on the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Some organizations reject corps members due to financial constraints, despite the need for additional manpower. Additionally, corps members face financial strain as food prices escalate, exacerbating the challenge of affording necessities.

Abel emphasized the urgent need for government intervention to address the sudden devaluation of the Nigerian currency, the naira. He urged swift action to revitalize the economy, stressing the potential consequences of inaction, including protests and societal unrest.

According to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report for 2024, Nigeria’s growth rate is projected to marginally increase from 2.9% in 2023 to 3.1% in 2024. Africa’s growth rate is expected to rise from 3.3% in 2023 to 3.5% in 2024, while global growth is forecasted to decline from 2.7% in 2023 to 2.4% in 2024. Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are projected to achieve a 5% growth rate by 2024, falling short of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target of 7%.

President Bola Tinubu addressed the government’s response to alleviate Nigerians’ suffering caused by economic policies on July 31, 2023. He acknowledged the hardship inflicted by rising fuel and food prices, underscoring the widespread impact on government employees, business owners, and students.

Impact of Nigeria’s Economy on Students: Students’ Narrative

Abdulazeez Aisha, a 300-level accounting student at Usman Danfodio University of Sokoto, voiced concerns about the economic strain on students. She highlighted the rising cost of living, exacerbated by stagnant parental incomes, leading to hiking school fees and living expenses. Insecurity in various regions further complicates students’ pursuit of education, raising doubts about the feasibility of timely graduation in such challenging circumstances.

Abdulrasheed Toheer Oniyere, a 100-level Mass Communication student at Kwara State University, Malete, echoed similar sentiments regarding the impact of economic hardship on education. He emphasized the escalating cost of food, limiting his ability to maintain a balanced diet and hindering his academic performance. He urged the government to address food costs by reopening borders and implementing policies to ease financial burdens on students.

Salahudeen Kaosara, a 300-level student studying biology education at the University of Ilorin, stated that the recent changes in Nigeria’s economy have impacted everyone. The current increase in food prices, transportation costs, and other essential needs significantly affect us students because our monthly allowance is barely sufficient to cover these expenses. It is challenging for us to ask our parents for more money as the situation is unforgiving.

She further mentioned how difficult it is to go through education without being able to fully enjoy it. Attending lectures on an empty stomach is a terrible experience. Kaosara emphasized the need for the government to address price control issues and provide students with some financial support to alleviate the burden on their parents. She expressed hope that such actions would bring peace to everyone.

Entrepreneurs’ Astute View

Nelson Vincent Ayomitunde (NELOC Media), a Digital Marketing Communications Agency, noted the significant impact of recent economic developments on business costs, particularly concerning fluctuations in the Naira-Dollar exchange rate. Despite challenges, strategic cost-cutting measures have helped mitigate the situation.

Yusuf Adeleke, a media consultant, highlighted the broader implications of economic changes on businesses and individuals. He emphasized the adverse effects on purchasing power and the need for government intervention to stabilize the economy, particularly in forex trading.

Government Employees’ Reaction

Muhammad Gafar Shola, a public servant, lamented the severe hardships inflicted by recent economic changes. He cited challenges in supporting family members financially due to increased expenses and stagnant incomes. He urged the government to prioritize citizens’ welfare by reopening borders for food imports and addressing the volatile forex market.

In conclusion, the prevailing economic challenges in Nigeria demand urgent and comprehensive government intervention to alleviate the hardships faced by citizens across various sectors. Addressing currency devaluation, food inflation, and unemployment requires concerted efforts and strategic policymaking to restore stability and prosperity to the nation.

Oluwatoyin Hawal Momolosho is a journalist and works with Confidence News Nigeria