The multi-layered misery Nigerians are presently suffering because of the concurrent problems of fuel scarcity, Naira shortage, energy crisis, and sundry other peculiar issues is similar to the dysfunction society experiences when certain professionals go on industrial action. As things stand in the country today, the government might as well be on strike. Looking at how things are in Nigeria, it is not that hard to see that the distinction between the situations where the labour unions down their tools and when government officials say they are hard at work has become blurry. The government is so inept that their “work” is as bad—and probably even worse — than no work.

The principle of “no work, no pay” that the government likes to tout each time workers down their tools should hence be applied to government officials when they fail in their duties as they are doing now.

Let me preempt those about to remind me that the issue here is not that the government, unlike labour unions, embarked on industrial action. Agreed. One can even argue that things are the way they are, not because Nigerian administrators failed to work, but because they did! We would be far better off if their incompetent selves would do us a favour and stay at home.

Even when the present crises are resolved eventually, what people have lost in resources — especially one like time — can never be either fully accounted for or restored. The businesses that should have been transacted during the period are irrecoverable. Yet, people will still be compelled to fulfill certain obligations despite the massive losses they sustained when the government absconded from its duties. If they truly think the deserved penalty for workers who let things fall apart because they went on strike is to withhold their salaries, then they should be applying the same measures to themselves when society fails under their watch.

Nigeria has recently become too difficult, tense, and overly traumatising. Even before the ill-designed Nigeria redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria threw millions of people into needless hardship, this administration’s poorly conceived policies had systematically diminished the quality of life. The CBN under Governor Godwin Emefiele has a track record of serial failures for which he hardly ever takes responsibility. His behavioural pattern is to blame others for whatever he does inefficiently. For instance, in July last year, he blamed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited for the fall of the naira. Four months later, he again blamed the Nigerians going to school abroad for causing the fall of the naira. Meanwhile, in 2016, the same Emefiele blamed US policy for the same naira freefall! Add all the instances together, and you get the impression that Emefiele has no exact idea why exactly the naira is performing poorly. He just reaches for whatever irritates him at each point. When the e-naira project he started in 2021 did not take off as he expected, he also blamed the banks. The naira redesign policy is causing hardship; once again, the blame has been redirected to the banks. Which one is his fault?

In several articles, I have written on why Emefiele should have been asked to resign eons ago. The biting hardship to which his inadequately executed redesign of the naira has subjected Nigerians is further proof of his inadequate comprehension of Nigeria’s realities and lack of capacity to envisage outcomes.

Forget the idle chatter about the naira redesign as a machination against a particular presidential candidate, the truth is that our ruling class does not have the mental acuity to forge a complex conspiracy like that. The wickedness of our leaders hardly ever goes beyond their unimaginative looting of public funds and using law enforcement agencies to abuse people. As you can see from the quality of governance, the intellectual capacity of the Nigerian political class is too rudimentary for them to contrive such mischief just to make Bola Tinubu lose an election. There is little to testify that they have the ability for the conceptual thinking necessary to devise a crisis that will shortchange Tinubu’s candidacy. Why go through all the drama of Naira scarcity — which affects them too — when they can take the far easier option of buying up the votes that will go to him on election day? Or they could have deployed the same “remote control” the President, Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) once boasted as having helped them win elections in Osun State.

Instead, if there is something the ongoing Naira scarcity has starkly demonstrated, it is that some of the key managers of Nigeria do not understand the country’s realities and complexities enough to design any fitting policy for us. They have poor comprehension of cause and effect in macro terms, lack the capacity for abstract thinking, and are certainly bereft of imagination. What they have done with the naira redesign policy illustrates how they have bungled other aspects of Nigerian administration. The crunch is being felt more viscerally than their other failures because the Nigerian economy is largely analogue and depends too heavily on physical cash. What exactly have they done since 2015 that is not analogous to the failure of the naira redesign policy? Emefiele’s bland response to the crisis of the naira shortage was to ask people to remain orderly and await their turn in the queues even if it takes days for them to get cash. His oversimplification of what has turned into a crisis shows they did not make any contingency plan.

The concomitant fuel crisis is no different either. The Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, too, has blamed various forces for the lingering fuel crisis. During a recent television appearance, he noted that the problem of fuel scarcity in Nigeria is “greed.” This greed is not in the NNPCL – which he, of course, superintends — but somewhere “across the value chain…all the way from the depots to the fuel stations to the trucks to those you meet on the road.” I suppose this is the point we should all congratulate Mr Kyari on his astounding discovery of human nature in a capitalist economy. Is there anywhere in the world humans will see a chance to make higher profits and not take it?

The job of agencies like the NNPCL is to create a system of circulating their product that has considered the human factor and tried to minimise the effects of their intrusions in distribution processes. Blaming greed or similar disposition is merely unimaginative.

Kyari’s fingering greed is another issue with some of these public officials. To deflect their responsibility, they characteristically allude to abstract factors such as “16 years of the PDP,” “climate change,” “war in Libya,” “Ukraine war,” “global pandemic,” and so on. They are always full of excuses to explain their failures, but never have testimonies of their overcoming challenges to share. If that time will ever come when these people will finally be responsible, it will be because they are held accountable. One way to achieve this is to turn the argument they make against labour unions back at them. If they truly believed that people who do not work should not be paid because of what they cost society during the period they suspend professional activities, then they too should have their salaries and allowances withheld each time Nigeria experiences crisis because of their inactions. You do not think people should be paid for work they failed to do? Good. Now, start with yourself.