The Palliative Economy Again!
In 2019, a terrible nightmare called Covid 19 showed up, crumbling the economy of the nation. Productive engines all over the world grinded to a halt.
To avoid being cut down at the prime of life, citizens were admonished to stay safe at home. It was hellish, as no one could predict exactly when the ill tide of the pandemic would ebb out for us to have a normal life of day-to-day interaction with neighbours, friends and colleagues at work.
To most homes, hunger started biting hard just after a week of lockdown. Then we started hearing of palliatives. It wasn’t an entirely new word but was unknown by many until the Buhari government, like many other governments of the world, dug it up from where it was rested.
Palliative is associated with medical care. To palliate, according to Merriam-Webster, means to ease (symptoms) without curing the underlying disease. Imagine that! No wonder since the world introduced palliative into our economic life during Covid 19, things have not been the same anymore.
With the post-Covid 19 economy, the advanced world has laboured hard to move away from palliative, with innovation in technology, except Nigeria, where many businesses Covid-19 killed have been buried completely. Like many publishers, I lost my publishing business because printing materials cost went beyond the roof, as readership tanked. I’m still gaping for breath.
In May ending this year, some of us were thanking God for the exit of Mohammed Buhari, the worst president we ever had(sic), as corruption he came to fight became a monster under his watch. We never knew Tinubu was also bitten by palliative bug. And now we are at it again!
Tinubu announced last week that 5 billion naira and truckloads of grains have been released to states. That came after Nigerians vehemently rejected the eight thousand naira monthly palliative to poor families in the country.
Now, in our dear State, Akwa Ibom. The 5 billion naira palliative announced by the Federal Government is already causing frenetic nerves to swirl, as critics have taken to radio stations to haul vituperation at the State Government for hiding the palliative money. But at the weekend, Governor Umo Eno came clear that he equally read about the release of the palliative money but was yet to be received by the State and prayed that the money come all the same, so the State would add to what the Federal Government has given. Whether the expected palliative money is a loan or grant, is yet to be known. But Pastor Umo Eno has assured of judicious use of the money when received and ensures palliative gets to those who really need it in the villages.
To what extent the palliative will ameliorate the sufferings of less privileged citizens is yet to be determined. We only hope that the assurances of Governor Umo Eno that the very poor will benefit from palliative will be adhered to by politicians.
But what happens to businesses that are already weighed heavily down by the strangulating high fuel cost? Fueling a car to keep a business appointment nowadays is a big challenge. Small businesses like ours are beginning to relieve some staff of their duties, due to low capital inflow, as too much recurrent expenditure cripples business operations. To not kill SMEs which this Government is passionate about for job creation, the State Government should consider giving palliative to SMEs in the form of grants to let these businesses breathe.
Unless support is given sector by sector to cushion the high cost of operations, many SMEs will die and never resurrect. Each organization that folds up, is just adding to the economic headache of the family, the community and the State.
Secondly, it’s too early for critics to haul invectives on the Governor for the money that hasn’t been received yet. Making spurious and infuriating remarks cannot only hear up the polity. We maintain that, as much as all of us are hungry and angry over the biting economic conditions of our nation, we should exercise some restraint while keeping an eagle eye on the palliative committee to be sure the right people are reached and that whatever items are meant to be distributed get to the people promptly.
Thirdly, we implore well-placed citizens to consider giving back to society. This is the right season for wealthy individuals to remember the poor members of society, by donating food items, medicals and money to cushion the effect of the economic difficulties. I recall that during the Covid 19 pandemic, some public spirited persons and corporate bodies supported the State Government with funds and healthcare supplies. Let’s not only criticize Government, private individuals can equally take the lead in mitigating the pains of the citizens by their philanthropic gestures.