BasseyUbong

SLIPPERY SLOPE

Slippery slope in ordinary usage means that one negative event which is minor could trigger other events that lead to a major or consequential event. In philosophy it is a logical fallacy but with the same understanding as above. It is also applied in law.

Ladies and gentlemen COVID-19 presents a classic case of slippery slope. Whether it came from a market where wild animals are sold or from a research lab both in Wuhan, China, what started as child’s play has degenerated into a major catastrophe never witnessed in world history. Spanish flu and Bubonic plague killed millions, yet only few countries were directly affected and most economies were not touched at all. COVID-19 has not taken up to 1 million lives but it has reached almost all countries in the globe. Worse still it has destroyed virtually every economy in the world.

This pandemic has opened the eyes of the world to the stranglehold of China in the world. US can claim like Muhammed Ali that the country is the greatest. But her manufacturing depends almost entirely on China. China will be the long term loser. Look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Obama took over at a little over 9,000, left it at a little over 20,000. Trump played his games and it reached 28,000. Now it stands at a little over 23,000. Companies have lost trillions of dollars. It will take at least 10 years of careful management like Obama did to return America and world economies to pre-COVID 19 days.

Our dear country Nigeria? Hmm. With crude oil being offered at $1 per barrel and nobody is buying and we, not FGN are daily paying demurrage (ship hiring fees)  to ship-owners, we must brace for the onslaught.

Look at a worst case scenario. Assume:

1. No oil sales for another three months. Usually our foreign exchange reserves last for about 3 months.

2. Aside from Lagos State, the other 35 states are still babies that depend on sweet mother for monthly upkeep. The 35 pay salaries from allocations.

3. Being civil service states, the 35 cannot pay salaries if sweet mother stops sending allocations (it surely will if there is no miracle soon).

4. The business sector in the states depend almost, in fact entirely on the expenditures of public servants which could soon be stop or delayed.

6. The businesses suspend operations or close down entirely, laying off workers. Arik Air wrote to staff cutting 80% of salaries. Most companies may buckle soon. Certainly, oil companies will do something if crude oil is not sold. At $11dollars per barrel, sales would be below production cost. Unlike developed countries, Nigeria cannot provide bail outs to the companies for staff salaries.

7. As we heard, House of Reps is debating a motion to approve N5 billion for purchase of 2020 model of Toyota Camry for each member. They are 360:in number.

Can we see the slippery slope? Perhaps the Camry is a response to the pandemic else they would have bought SUVs at N27-30 million each. So they are ready to “manage” a cheaper car I think at N18 million each.

Thus COVID-19 of China is evolving, creating more and more negative things aside from taking innocent lives.

What then is the way forward? I strongly recommend to those who have money to review their plans:

a) That new house is essential but it should be food first. It means sellers of building materials will lose for now, as will builders, but live first so you can move into a new house.

b) I can’t see any normal person buying a car now (our legislators are super beings). So fix that old car or bike and manage on. Food first.

c) No normal person can plan for a holiday abroad now. In any case who will welcome you?  Internally, postpone that holiday. Two days in the cheapest hotel room at PH plus trans and food will cost you at N25,000. That can pay three workers in a private business one full month’s salary. It is food first.

d) No one knows when schools will resume. So see how you can engage your children in the house. School proprietors, dream up ways and means of paying salaries.

e) The social gatherings you are used to, shift forward. Live first; when the neck is alive, it will wear beads as our elders say.

In essence divide those things you normally do into two broad categories – essential and non essential. Trips that telephone can take care of, use phone and safe gasoline, vehicle repairs, and transport money. A beer or a stout a day can wait for now. They are non essentials. Don’t go for new furniture or clothes. Mend existing ones.

Some of these are the advantages of COVID-19. Build a lean, smarter you. Your life will never be the  same again.

Best regards.

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