State of The Nation Report at the 48th Meeting of the Board of Trustees of ActionAid Nigeria
ActionAid Nigeria’s State of the Nation Account delivered at the 48th Meeting of the Board of Trustees Held on Saturday, 03rd of December 2022
The 2022 torrential floods have affected most parts of the country, displacing over 1.4 million people, killing over 600, and injuring more than 2,400. While Nigeria typically experiences seasonal flooding, this year’s flooding was the worst in the country since the 2012 floods. As of October, over 200,000 homes have been completely or partially destroyed by the floods. On 7 October, a boat carrying people fleeing the floods capsized on the Niger River, causing 76 deaths. The flooding has been blamed on unusually heavy rains and climate change as well as the release of water from the Lagdo Dam in neighbouring Cameroon. Flooding began in the early summer of 2022 and is expected to continue through November.
The excess water released from the dam cascades down River Benue and its tributaries, flooding communities in the states of Kogi, Benue as well as other states like in the northeast, southeast and the Niger Delta. This year’s flood is believed to be the worst that Nigeria has experienced in decades, as it has created humanitarian crises and compounded economic challenges in the affected areas . Some communities are inaccessible and cut off from goods and services. When Lagdo Dam was constructed in 1982, there was an agreement by Nigerian authorities to build a second, twin dam in Adamawa State known as the Dasin Hausa Dam project, to contain the overflows. Revisiting this river basin dam projects will mitigate perennial flooding across the country and also boost dry season farming which will enhance food security index in Nigeria.
Despite the modest efforts of Nigeria’s military to stamp out insecurity, recently the US and UK issued a public travel advisory to their citizens and employees alerting them of a heightened risk of terrorist attacks in Nigeria. Part of the crimes profiled include crimes such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage-taking, and banditry. They referenced kidnapping for ransom which occurs frequently targeting dual national citizens who have returned to Nigeria for visits, as well as those citizens with perceived wealth.
The travel advisories claim terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting shopping centres, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, schools, government installations, transportation hubs, and other places where crowds gather. Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Nigeria. Most attacks are conducted by Boko Haram or Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) and occur in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States in the Northeast. There have also been significant attacks in other states, including Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Bauchi, and Taraba States .
Following the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) 2022 calling off its eight-month-old strike with the intervention of the leadership of the House of Representatives, the FG has not kept its side of the agreements. This was aggravated by the decision of the FG to pay the lecturer on pro-rata basis for the month of October. Regardless of this, the ASUU insisted the struggle was for the strengthening of the educational and university system in the country . The agitation is for Nigeria to have a system where remunerations will be robust enough to attract the best of lecturers from all over the World to our universities. The Academic Staff Union of Universities’ strikes have been on and off for quite some time – every new strike action is triggered by the failure of the government to fulfill its part of the agreement reached with ASUU. Each time, as soon as ASUU responds to the “promise” by the government to fulfill its part of the agreement and the plea by stakeholders in the education system to suspend its strike action, the government reverts to its characteristic failure to honour agreements reached . With this, the lecturers may adopt other strategies to press home their demands.
Currently, the economic landscape in Nigeria has not been generating the desired productive multiplier effects as most economic indices remain on a downward trend. Over the last seven and a half year, Nigeria has experienced two recessions, with a GDP growth averaging less than 1.5% while population growth has averaged 2.5% per annum. Poverty has increased with the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty, less than 1.90USD totaling 88.425million, as of February 2022. This is an increase of 18.401m over a period of seven years, moving from 70.024m in 2016 to 88.425m in 2022, with a gender dimension of 43.718m female and 44.707 male.
Similarly, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the headline inflation rate in September 2022 was 20.77% while the food index stood at 23.12%. Currently, the inflation rate has surpassed the above figure, and being escalated with the recent launch of the redesigning Naira (NGN200, NGN500, NGN1000) Notes, with cardinal objectives to mop up growing liquidity outside the banking system and mitigate counterfeiting of Nigeria. Unfortunately, this measure spurred further inflationary trends in the economy, with the Naira losing it strengthen at the foreign exchange market. It peaked at NGN900 to 1USD at the Bureau De Change, popularly known as Black Market, sometimes in November 2022 but it is currently at NGN740. Suffice to mention that the multiple exchange rates in the country are creating a wide gulf between the official exchange rate that hovers around NGN445.04 to the USD and the current street value. This provides the opportunity for a rent arbitrage, whereby elites that have access to the official rate make almost 100% gain per dollar acquired.
The continued downward trend in the economy has also worsened the worrisome unemployment situation of the country. The unemployment rate at 33.3% is an all-time high while youth unemployment stood at 42.5%. This is quite disturbing given that a large percentage of our youths are not engaged, a trend that makes them vulnerable to social vices, especially becoming a tool in the hands of the politicians, as we approach the 2023 General Elections. The effect of the growing unemployment has not been mitigated, despite the continued government borrowings, which supposedly should be powering the economy towards productivity.
Recently, the Senate approved the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper, laying the foundation for the public expenditure over the next three (3) years. Following the approval of the MTEF, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has proposed an Appropriation Bill of NGN20.51t to the National Assembly for approval . It shows an increase of 18.4% increase compared to the 2022 amended budget. Breaking down the figure, it shows a projected capital expenditure of 26% and recurrent expenditure of 74%. Further breakdown shows a projected revenue of NGN9.73t, and a deficit of NGN10.78t, representing 4.78% of the GDP. Similarly, a whooping NGN6.31Trillion is projected for debt servicing, constituting 30.8% of the total projected expenditure, an increase of 71.2% compared with the 2022 Appropriation.
Overall, the budget proposal does not address the mounting economic challenges in the country, especially the pro-poor sectors, e.g., Agriculture, Health, Education etc. Moreover, budget proposal is not anchored on a realistic economic parameter. Among such is the need to factor in the prevailing economic realities in the process of appropriation by the National Association, as such the amendments of macroeconomic assumptions should not simply target increasing the envelope on government spending but targeting the actual measures to reduce poverty, inequality and also plug crude oil theft.
President Buhari in his speech on the proposal which he tagged Budget of Fiscal Consolidation and Transition, disclosed that “Oil output stood at an average of 1.30 million barrels per day as of June 2022, while the sum of 1.59 trillion Naira was spent on fuel subsidy between January and June 2022”. He pointed out that “The NNPC, working in collaboration with security and other relevant agencies, is putting in place additional measures to curb the incidence of pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft in order to meet our crude oil production quota”. On his part, the Senate President said “our economy is still challenged by dearth of revenues. The main source of revenue to the Nigerian Government is Oil and Gas. We always consider the diversification of the economy as crucial and its indeed crucial.
With the emergence of candidates across the political parties, the stage is set to woo voters, unfortunately the campaigning is taking violent, ethnic, and religious colouration with snide remarks, posing a dangerous trend for our growing democracy. The campaigns are not issue-based as expected. The manifestation of the ongoing campaigning by some political parties seems not infused with concrete milestone delivery of democratic dividends. As such, there is need for interface between the candidates and the politicians to establish trust and confidence in the political process. Noting that political parties are essential institutions of democracy, they should be able to present veritable platforms through which citizens express their aspirations, choosing from numerous offers of public policy choices, able to spur both human and capital development in the country.
Disappointingly, young people and women have been largely excluded from leadership and decision-making processes in political parties, elective, and appointive positions, as the political space is closed, the youths and women who constitute the larger percentage of the population remain excluded from leadership and governance. Nigerian youths and women are yet to achieve the level of inclusion required to gain representation in politics, largely due to leadership deficits, poor internal democracy among the older parties. In addition, the absence of a strategic political agenda which poses barriers to young people and women playing important roles in national development.
As the electioneering campaign continues across the country by the political parties, citizens should embrace the opportunities to critically interrogate the political parties manifestoes and their electoral promises. It requires interrogating such offers and how they will be practically delivered at the different levels of government. The general election will be fiercely contested, the aura in the air is that of inordinate aspiration and yearning for good governance, which has unfortunately eluded Nigerian over time. However, FG must tame the gale of indiscriminate torching of INEC offices by arsonists across the country to prevent willing voters from being disenfranchised.
 2022 FLOOD: A TRAGEDY FORETOLD – THISDAYLIVE
 Nigeria travel advice - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
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