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The Devil in Vogue: Rethinking subsidy and palliative measures in Nigeria

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By Halima Abdulazeez

Nigeria’s economic challenges are getting more complicated with these two hydrae-headed terms that have become imbued in the national lexicon: Subsidy and Palliative. Once considered the devil we know, “Subsidy” has given way to a new devil in vogue – Palliative Measures. While these terms may seem familiar, their current usage and implications paint a stark picture of the socio-economic realities faced by Nigerians today. There is always a loophole created by those in positions of authority to create a conduit pipe for corruption.

Traditionally, subsidy was viewed as a means to alleviate the burden of rising costs and inflation on the populace. However, in recent times, it has morphed into a mechanism plagued by corruption, inefficiency, and mismanagement. Government subsidies are no longer synonymous with relief for the common man but instead, serve as avenues for exploitation and profiteering by a select few.

In sharp contrast, the concept of palliative measures has gained prominence as a response to economic hardship and social unrest. Palliatives are intended to provide support and relief to those most affected by economic downturns, inflation, and other challenges. Yet, in practice, these measures often fall short of their intended purpose, leaving many Nigerians disillusioned and disenfranchised.

One of the underlying issues contributing to the misuse of these terms is the prevalence of systemic frauds and inefficiency within government institutions. Instead of prioritizing the welfare of the people, government businesses have become preoccupied with securing profits through the guise of palliative initiatives. This shift has perpetuated a cycle of dependency and marginalization, further exacerbating the socio-economic divide.

Moreover, the overreliance on palliative measures overlooks the root causes of economic hardship and social inequality in Nigeria. Rather than addressing the sad reality of unemployment, underemployment, and lack of economic opportunities for teeming Nigerians, the focus remains on short-term solutions that fail to address the underlying structural deficiencies. It’s painful to sit and watch how we are institutionalized begging.

A fundamental shift in approach is needed to break free from this cycle of dependency and mismanagement. One potential solution lies in the creation of a sound system that prioritizes sustainable development and empowers individuals to contribute meaningfully to the economy. This includes initiatives aimed at providing employment opportunities for graduates and ensuring their dignity and self-worth are preserved.

By investing in education, skills development, and job creation, Nigeria can unleash the full potential of its youth population and pave the way for long-term economic growth and prosperity. Rather than entrenching dependency and perpetuating a culture of handouts, the focus should be on fostering entrepreneurship, innovation, and self-reliance.

Furthermore, there is a need for transparent and accountable governance to ensure that subsidy and palliative measures are utilized for their intended purposes. This entails strengthening institutions, implementing robust oversight mechanisms, and promoting a culture of integrity and ethical conduct among public officials. Without these measures, the cycle of corruption and mismanagement will persist, undermining efforts to achieve sustainable development and inclusive growth.

Additionally, addressing the underlying structural issues that perpetuate poverty and inequality is crucial. This includes tackling barriers to access to finance, improving infrastructure, promoting inclusive economic policies, and enhancing social safety nets for the most vulnerable segments of society. It also involves addressing issues such as gender inequality, ethnic disparities, and regional imbalances that contribute to social unrest and economic instability.

Moreover, fostering a culture of innovation and technological advancement can play a pivotal role in driving economic growth and creating opportunities for all Nigerians. Embracing digital transformation, investing in research and development, and promoting a conducive environment for startups and small businesses can unleash the creative potential of the Nigerian people and position the country as a global player in the digital economy.

In conclusion, the misuse of terms such as subsidy and palliative reflect deeper systemic issues plaguing Nigeria’s socio-economic landscape. To truly address the root causes of economic hardship and social inequality, there must be a concerted effort to prioritize sustainable development and empower individuals to take control of their economic destiny. Only then can Nigeria break free from the grip of dependency and chart a path towards a brighter future for all its citizens.

Halima Abdulazeez
A social commentator,
writes from Lagos, Nigeria

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