The two-year reign of President Muhammadu Buhari has seen a decrease and steady decline in the middle class as instability persists and recession bites harder.
Those who drive and sustain the economy and polity are decimated as more businesses suffer and millions offloaded into the labour market.
The middle class, according to the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (2005), is “a social and economic class composed of those more prosperous than the poor, or lower class, and less wealthy than the upper class. Middle class is sometimes loosely used to refer to the bourgeoisie. In the United States and other industrial countries, the term is often applied to white collar, as opposed to blue collar, workers.”
And since May 2015 when the All Progressives Congress took over power, the polity and economy have largely been affected negatively on account of the ineptitude of ex-President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the ‘talk-is-cheap’ method of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Here are the reasons for the shrinking of the middle class under Buhari:
1. This recession has lasted longer than necessary with measures to arrest it never implemented.
It took the government over 6 months to even acknowledge we are in a recession as its effects percolated and destroyed households.
And 6 months into 2017, we are ‘still at sea’ about what the government is doing to turn the economy around.
Only a meagre N350 billion was promised to be injected into the economy a few days back!
2. The principal document to energise the economy, the budget, has suffered late passage and assent in the last two years.
While 2016 Budget of N6.06 trillion was signed on May 6, 2016, the N7.44 trillion 2017 Budget was assented to on June 12, 2017.
For documents meant to begin full implementation on January 1, the unseriousness of the APC government which controls the National Assembly is bewildering.
3. The padding in the budget with nonsensical items show its weakness in addressing economic issues.
With the legislators and executives living large, unbelievable sums earmarked for senseless items, padding and huge recurrent expenditure, how can the economy grow?
The growing population (of 191.8 million) set to baloon to the third largest in the world by 2050 is generally ignored by those in power. Amenities and services that will ensure a capable and productive population are short-changed in favour of immediate gratification of the ruling class.
At no time is capital expenditure more than 30 percent of the budget.
4. Investors just looking and waiting as the polity is heated with threats of instability and mayhem.
Northern youths have issued South-easterners October 1 deadline to leave their region.
The Indigenous People of Biafra is demanding autonomy, and other regions are crying about restructuring.
Boko Haram still strikes and there are pockets of kidnapping and herdsmen attacking farmers across the land.
These insecurities scare investors who want an atmosphere of stability for their investment.
5. The President’s sickness further fuels the uncertainty.
Away for 58 days since May 7, the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari is a threat to the stability of Nigeria as speculations over the nature of his ailments and health are worrisome.
Since he assumed power on May 29, 2015, he has gone on medical vacation more than four times.
With the political arrangement and suspicion among the ruling class, no one is sure what the future portends.
Such uncertainty characterised the assent to the budget which was postponed a few times.
6. Companies which largely employ the middle class are panting and collapsing.
From construction, oil and gas, banking to telecoms, these industries are laying off staffers.
The government has been so worried that it intervened, but could hardly arrest the retrenchment.
This core members of the middle class losing jobs and income are shrinking the stratum.
Even those with jobs are taking huge cuts in salaries and emoluments, further shrinking their purchasing power.
7. State governments are owing salaries and causing stagnation of ventures that promote the middle class.
With purchasing power in most states arrested with non-payment of salaries, businesses are starved of patronage and owners kicked off the middle class.
Across the land, over two thirds of states are owing salaries. But their governors still enjoy unconscionable high standard of living.
8. Unstable forex and stock markets.
The high prices of international currencies have shot up cost and reduced demand for many products.
And with the stock market taking a hit because of high forex rate, uncertainty in the polity and low demand for goods and services, more pains are experienced.
9. Skilled manpower which is one of the elements defining the middle class is being jeopardised by lack of adequate attention to education.
From primary to tertiary, public schools are in a sorry state as private institutions raise fees and become unaffordable.
Those who can afford educating their children abroad are decreasing with economic challenges commonplace.