Recession is a global and eternal economic reality which nations have to grapple with from time to time. So, our current predicament is neither unique nor would it be the last time it would occur here. However, nations must equip themselves with the capacity to deal with recession and make it as brief as possible. Invariably, economic recession brings in its wake heightened social maladies which nations must address urgently. For instance, recession in 18th century Great Britain resulted in people being “compelled to seek their livelihood by begging, robbing, stealing, cheating, pimping …flattering, foraging, gaming, lying, fawning, ..whoring…libelling”, according to Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745. Another recession in the same country in the 19th century added to the situation “where you could buy a thirteen-year-old girl for a few pounds – a few shillings – if you wanted her for an hour or two,” according to the Children’s Employment Commission Report, 1867. The Great Depression in America lasting from 1929 to 1933 gave rise to the power of the Mafia – which has remained in the US till today.
Today in Nigeria, idleness involving millions of our people (especially the youth), has added to existing social maladies. Such “jobs” as: pipeline vandalism, kidnapping, armed robbery masquerading as militancy, drug trafficking and abuse, child and women trafficking, gun-running, bribery, extortion, arson, ballot box snatching, institutionalisation of embezzlement of public funds as well as religious terrorism. When recession increases the number of the jobless, the Devil’s workshop is filled to the brim, thus increasing the rate of heinous and violent crimes in the society. To some extent, the current fight against corruption could be futile; partly because it assumes that corruption resides only at the top.
The sheer number of people driven to crime by joblessness might overwhelm the legal/security system unless urgent steps are taken.
The jobless and poor will stay awake because they are hungry; the Haves will not sleep peacefully because the hungry multitudes will keep them awake. Recession is a multi-faceted war declared on the foundations of society. It is important to keep this reality in view while planning our ways out of the recession. The provision of well-targeted financial stimuli and bailouts can help in blunting the blight of crime and terror in a recession. Since the Federal Government wishes to “spend its way out” of the recession, care must be taken to ensure more money ends up in the pockets of the common people, not just a few rich and well- connected people. The law enforcement agencies and the courts must brace themselves for the challenges of crime in this recession. The stick and carrot approach always works – even in a recession.