In 2013, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the population of Nigerians living in poverty at about 112 million, representing about 67 per cent of Nigeria’s 167 million population at the time. Nigeria’s income per capita GDP stood at $1,555. The Nigerian situation, no doubt has worsened since then.
In 2013 when the World Bank made these observations, oil prices were high and Nigeria was recording high growth figures. The emerging middle class was flourishing because salaries were being promptly paid and contractors got their money when due. The economy looked robust. But the crash of crude prices has exposed the hollow nature of the growth. The growth was neither inclusive nor was it from productive activities. It was merely from rents from oil sales.
Government revenue has plummeted, salaries of workers have remained unpaid for months,and contractors are owed. The few manufacturing companies in the country have large inventories of finished products in their warehouses that they can not sell.
Besides they cannot access foreign exchange to import essential raw materials. The result is mass retrenchment, even in sectors that were considered to have job security.
As a result, the disposable income of Nigerians has shrunk and with the increasing general rise in the prices of goods and services, the Nigerian misery index has jumped to unprecedented levels, forcing President Muhammadu Buhari to lament that Nigeria has suddenly become poor. Nigerians are groaning in pains because the economy has long been left unattended to.
We believe that this government has the opportunity and goodwill to turn the economy around by rousing the nation into productive activities that will bring about an inclusive economic growth. We urge governments at various levels to see the situation as critical and take decisive actions to ameliorate the current self-inflicted poverty that the nation is going through.
The government must begin to spend on projects that oil the wheel of economic progress. Government must pay contractors to get workers back to work. Most importantly massive housing and infrastructural construction can revive the economy and employ thousands faster than expected. States and local governments owing salaries must see it as a priority to pay their workers in order to boost consumer spending.
The Federal Government must build consensus around its envisaged economic emergency programme to ensure a rapid turnaround for the economy.