By Datonye Alambo
Nigeria is a country of contradictions. It’s a mixed bag of the very good, the bad and in some cases the most ugly.
It has over 200 million population, the 7th most Populous in the world, number one in Africa, accounting for 17% of the continent’s s total population.
The country has a birth rate of 35.2births per 1000, a fertility rate of 5.07 and a death rate of 9.6 per 1000.
With over 250 ethnic groups and 521 languages, Nigeria is indubitably a diverse society made up of multi ethnic groups.
The country has 68% literate population with 138 Universities.
It has successfully kept HIV/AIDS at bay and in 2014 became the first African nation to successfully contain and eliminate the Ebola Virus Disease.
In 2020, it also kept the rampaging Coronavirus Pandemic under control and was certified Polio free.
However, the health and education systems continue to function below their potentials fraught with a litany of challenges that often result in chaos and epileptic services.
A 2020 estimate indicates that Gross Domestic Product GDP is $1.275 trillion, 23rd in the world while per capita Income is low at $6,232 (129th) in the world.
With a Human Development Index (2018) ranking of 158th in the world, it is not surprising that 40% of Nigerians live in poverty.
Unemployment rate is put at 27.1% while inflation is 13.22% and interest rate, 11.5% , certainly not enviable statistics by any standards.
77 million Nigerians are without electricity in a country which has a proven natural gas reserves of 5.475 trillion cubic meters, the biggest oil exporter and largest natural gas reserves in Africa.
In the globe, Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of Petroleum and 8th largest exporter and has the 10th largest proven reserves.
Petroleum accounts for 40% of the GDP and 8% of Government earnings.
According to the Department of Petroleum Resources, Nigeria has 159 oil fields and 1481 oil wells.
With an abundance of natural resources, it is Africa’s biggest oil exporter, and has the largest natural gas reserves on the continent.
According to World Bank Oil price volatility continues to influence Nigeria’s growth performance.
Between 2000 and 2014, Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an average rate of 7% per year. Following the oil price collapse in 2014-2016, combined with negative production shocks, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate dropped to 2.7% in 2015. In 2016 during its first recession in 25 years, the economy contracted by 1.6%.
Since 2015, economic growth remains muted. Growth averaged 1.9% in 2018 and remained stable at 2% in the first half of 2019. Domestic demand remains constrained by stagnating private consumption in the context of high inflation (11% in the first half of 2019). On the production side, growth in 2019 was primarily driven by services, particularly telecoms. Agricultural growth remains below potential due to continued insurgency in the Northeast and ongoing farmer-herdsmen conflicts. Industrial performance is mixed. Oil GDP growth is stable, while manufacturing production is expected to slow down in 2019 due to a weaker power sector performance. Food and drink output are expected to increase, likely in response to import restrictions. Construction continues to perform positively, supported by ongoing megaprojects, higher public investment in the first half of the year, and import restrictions.
Growth is too low to lift the bottom half of the population out of poverty. The weakness of the agriculture sector weakens prospects for the rural poor, while high food inflation adversely impacts the livelihoods of the urban poor. Despite expansion in some sectors, employment creation remains weak and insufficient to absorb the fast-growing labor force, resulting in high rate of unemployment (23% in 2018), with another 20% of the labor force underemployed. Furthermore, the instability in the North and the resulting displacement of people contribute to the high incidence of poverty in the North East.
Without significant structural policy reforms, Nigeria’s medium-term growth is projected to remain stable around 2%. Given that the economy is expected to grow more slowly than the population, living standards are expected to worsen. Growth is constrained by a weak macroeconomic framework with high persistent inflation, multiple exchange rate windows and forex restrictions, distortionary activities by the central bank, and a lack of revenue-driven fiscal consolidation results. Rising public debt, and increasingly complex policy interventions by the central bank constrain private sector credit growth. External balances are fragile to hot money movements, and fiscal buffers are exhausted, making Nigeria’s economy vulnerable to external risks.
While Nigeria has made some progress in socio-economic terms in recent years, its human capital development remains weak due to under-investment and the country ranked 152 of 157 countries in the World Bank’s 2018 Human Capital Index. Furthermore, the country continues to face massive developmental challenges, which include the need to reduce the dependency on oil and diversify the economy, address insufficient infrastructure, and build strong and effective institutions, as well as governance issues and public financial management systems.
Inequality in terms of income and opportunities has been growing rapidly and has adversely affected poverty reduction. The North-South divide has widened in recent years due to the Boko Haram insurgency and a lack of economic development in the northern part of the country. Large pockets of Nigeria’s population still live in poverty, without adequate access to basic services, and could benefit from more inclusive development policies. The lack of job opportunities is at the core of the high poverty levels, of regional inequality, and of social and political unrest in the country.
After 60 years of Independence, though some level of progress in terms of development had been recorded over time, the country however could best be described as an elephant doing a 200 kilometer journey in a circle of 200meters, having motion without much movement.
The nation has failed to produce genuine nationalists and leaders who could rise above personal, selfish, tribal and Religious sentiments to achieve national cohesion and utilize the vast resources for the prosperity of the greater number of citizens.
Infact, the fault lines have increased with more citizens now leaning towards tribal and ethnic affiliations no thanks to a Political class that have failed to rise above petty considerations.
Issues of injustice, inequality, inequitable distribution of resources, discrimination, have increased and have further triggered tension in society.
Law enforcement is at a record all time low with institutions of state failing to perform their roles as life has become nasty, brutish and short in the words of the famous sociologist, Thomas Hobbes.
Nigeria is increasingly having people in power who care less about the citizens safety and welfare.
Read: Nigeria at 60: President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the nation (FULL SPEECH)
The result is a growing chaos and anarchy as well as total loss of confidence in the State as more people now resort to self help.
At 60, we should look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves if we have really done well given our enormous potential and endowment in terms of human and material resources.
It is high time we retraced our steps both leaders and followers by thinking of our collective good and well being otherwise we are on a rollercoaster plunge into an abyss of no return.
In this 21st century our thinking and actions as a nation and people should be hinged on doing what is right by providing the right sense of direction at least for the sake of succeeding generations.
If we refuse and decide to fail, the consequences will be far reaching especially in Africa.
Let’s retrace our steps and actions as a people.
Datonye Alambo is a Journalist and a Public Affairs Analyst with specialization in Politics, Governance and Development.
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