It’s about 3pm now and the temperature in Lagos according to AccuWeather is 30°C. The temperature in Abuja is 27°C. I also noticed there is another temperature reading called the Realfeel® temperature which is 35°C and 32°C for Lagos and Abuja respectively. The Realfeel® temperature reading is what the temperature really feels like on the skin. It can be warmer or colder than the actual temperature depending on the weather conditions. The Realfeel® temperature is determined using a number of factors including the temperature, humidity, cloud cover, sun intensity and wind. A lot of people prefer to use the Realfeel® temperature because it gives a sense of how they really feel.
Relating this to our economy, there is the report on the state of the economy based on certain key performance indicators, which the government of the day can churn out every now and then but there is also the real feel of the economy which the average man or woman on the street senses and which defines his or her perception of how well or poorly the economy is doing. The government can look at its KPIs and adjudge itself to be performing. It could talk about the increasing foreign reserves, the stable Naira exchange rate, the improvement in ranking for ease of doing business in the country. The government could boast of several arrests bordering on corruption charges. It could talk about the savings made in spite of the lower oil prices, the GPD growth or the addition of more power generation capacity.
But the real feel is what the man on the street perceives. It appears to gauge his survival chances. It is the perception of the woman who is hawking by the street corner to be able to provide a meal for her babies. It is about the experiences of the businessman or woman who considers himself or herself to be a fundamental part of the micro-economy of the nation. It is about the payment or non-payment of salaries, the availability of stable power when a loved one has to undergo a surgical procedure. It is about our hospitals, schools and businesses staying open or closed. It is about being able to move around freely or sleep soundly without fear of having an unwanted intrusion in your space. It is about having the assurance that your life as a citizen of the nation is as valued as you think you deserve. It is knowing that the benefits of your sweat-laced labour will be available to you when you need it. It is our primordial understanding of the economy based on other connected indices like security, justice reforms, the corruption index, international relations, etc.
Leadership and government in general must be relational. It must be sincere. It must help define the right perception of the economy for all. It must encourage the development of the right narratives for its most important stakeholder – the vulnerable citizen of Nigeria. It must be concerned about how the thoughts that weave the fabric of the future of the country are strung together. It must offer genuine hope and be actively seen to be committed to the peace and stability of the nation.
At this time in our nation when we remember our latest transition from military rule to the democratic form of government, our reflections would naturally centre around evaluating the gains of democracy. We would think about the dividends of democracy and once again look to the promises of a better future. Like a lady being courted, the citizens of Nigeria need the assurance that the best days are not just ahead but are here in our time. Happy Democracy Day!