1. Nigerian Govt officials living in opulence in the midst of poverty.
The Nigerian economy is in a bind, inevitably spurring the call by the Tinubu administration for sacrifice on the part of the citizenry to pull the nation out. On his inauguration day, President Bola Tinubu announced the removal of subsidy on petrol that had cost the nation trillions of Naira, as part of the sacrifice. He has since followed up with the merging of the multiple foreign exchange rates, a situation that has led to the depreciation of the Naira at the official window. The implication is not lost on citizens who now must cope with the attendant inflation. Arising from the foreign exchange rates merger was the announcement of a new electricity tariff which went up because of cost of production. Other belt-tightening measures to free funds for government to meet its obligations were also announced. But amid the call on the citizenry for sacrifice to pull Nigeria out of the woods, many people are worried about jumbo cost of governance occasioned by what some call questionable budgetary allocations by governments at different levels.
In the midst of all these, the National Assembly has approved the purchase and distribution of Toyota Prado SUVs worth N160 million each, for members of the National Assembly. The lawmakers say it is the tradition of the National Assembly to procure utility vehicles for members, noting that the cars will be needed for oversight functions in the discharge of their duties. The expectation of Nigerians is for government to retrace its steps and give priority attention to revamping the economy instead of its current obsession with luxurious living. Nigerians are indeed shocked, saddened, and disappointed at the level of insensitivity being displayed by the executive and the legislative arms of government. It is sad to note that with deepening poverty among Nigerians, the administration has decided to increase its appetite for a life of opulence to mock hardworking but underprivileged Nigerians. This is apart from the huge cost of running the bloated Federal Executive Council of 48 cabinet ministers, paid for by taxpayers. This is in addition to hundreds of presidential and ministerial aides, as well as numerous other aides to the aides who are being maintained with public resources.
2. Corruption Fights Back
Successive administrations’ fight against corruption has been fraught with ineffectual presidential orders and counter-productive double standards. The anti-graft war is politicised such that opposition politicians facing serious corruption allegations suddenly become “saints” once they defect to the ruling party and are given red-carpet treatments. From legal and institutional perspectives, Nigeria’s anti-corruption laws acutely lack stringency, and the anti-corruption institutions are bereft of sophisticated investigatory and prosecutorial abilities. Too many high-profile corruption cases have been dismissed by the courts, mainly on technicalities, because of shoddy investigations and prosecutions. Instead, the state resorts to extrajudicial measures such as secret deals with those accused of corruption. For instance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, claims that, since 2015, it has retrieved assets worth trillions of naira from “looters”. But who are they? The truth is that secret deals and plea bargaining undermine the anti-graft war.
Fighting corruption starts with a rigorous system of assets declaration, which serves three purposes: transparency, conflict of interest control and wealth monitoring. Nigeria’s asset declaration system does none of these: it’s not transparent, given the absence of mandatory public disclosure; it doesn’t prevent conflict of interest as it requires no information about private interests; and it doesn’t monitor wealth variations because it ignores the sources of wealth and the multiple channels through which stolen wealth can be concealed. Of course, once a country lacks a robust and rigorously enforced system of asset declaration that requires mandatory public disclosure and that seeks all the right information, it creates the space for corruption to fester. This administration must run a system that sheds light on how politicians and public officers acquired stupendous wealth to reduce festering corruption that becomes such a humongous monster in the country.
3. High cost of living/poor citizens' standard of living.
Nigeria continues to grapple with the pervasive issue of high living costs and a declining standard of living for its citizens. Being a major oil producer, the country's economy is largely dependent on oil revenue, making it susceptible to the fluctuations of the global oil market. The resulting economic instability has contributed to soaring inflation rates and an increase in the cost of basic necessities, making it increasingly challenging for majority of Nigerians to afford essential goods and services. This has led to widespread dissatisfaction and untold hardships among the populace, with many struggling to meet their everyday needs, including food, housing, and healthcare. Moreover, the persistent lack of reliable infrastructure, including electricity and transportation, has exacerbated the situation, further hindering economic growth and exacerbating the hardship faced by ordinary Nigerians.Inadequate or poor infrastructure has not only impeded business operations but has also led to increased production costs for goods and services, ultimately passed on to consumers. Additionally, the socio-political climate, characterized by corruption and ineffective governance, has impeded efforts to implement sustainable economic reforms and alleviate the burden on the citizens. Without meaningful interventions to address the root causes of the prohibitive cost of living, Nigerians will continue to grapple with a challenging economic landscape, raising concerns about the country's long-term social and economic stability.
The Naira has also tumbled to record lows against the US dollar and other currencies, putting further pressure on President Bola Tinubu’s government as it tries to reform Africa’s largest economy. The government pledged to break with the policies of his predecessors and attract foreign investments to Nigeria. Allowing the naira to float more freely against the dollar was part of that agenda. But the currency has been sliding ever since that break with the dollar in June. This has bumped up the cost of crucial imports and helped to stoke inflation, while investors have yet to be persuaded by the reforms. Observers say one key factor in the naira’s heavy decline is a scarcity of dollars. The Central Bank of Nigeria’s 2015 ban on certain companies accessing dollars pushed importers to the unofficial market and contributed to a “surplus demand for foreign exchange”, the CBN admitted last month. The shift has led to dramatically weaker prices quoted on unofficial markets. On abokiFX, an online trading platform, the rate touched N1,290 to the dollar. “Nigeria is a country in dire need of foreign exchange,” says Wilson Erumebor, a senior economist at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group think-tank.
Policy makers need a clear-cut policy direction to attract forex into the economy. What is happening with the currency lately shows how little confidence there is in the naira. Under Tinubu’s predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, importers were barred from accessing dollars from the official market, to boost local production. Now, under the new CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, the Central Bank is adopting a “willing-buyer and willing-seller” model where prices are determined by market forces. But eliminating the peg in June led to the biggest single day fall in the currency’s history. Partly as a result, inflation in September soared to 26.7 per cent, the highest level in two decades.
4. Targeted attacks and insecurity against girls in Nigerian schools
There is a repeated cycle of violence by Gunmen abducting female students in northwestern and north central Nigeria. Students were taken hostage when abductors broke into their accommodation near the Federal University Gusau in Zamfara State’s Bungudu district.Abductions of students from schools in northern Nigeria are common and have become a source of concern since 2014 when extremists kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State. The frequency of the attacks though has reduced over the last year, but recent incidents present a new challenge to President Bola Tinubu who took office in May. This highlights once again the inadequate security presence in remote communities across Nigeria.
In October, bandits invaded a hostel at a Federal University and kidnaped 5 female students. This is happening in the Northern part of Nigeria where not many girls are enrolled in schools. The increasing level of insecurity in schools and tertiary institutions will also jeopardize gains made around girl education. Also, there is an increasing level of insecurity in the FCT where women and girls have been majorly the victims of “one chance” attacks, thereby increasing fear of free movement by women and girls within the FCT.
Nine and half years after Boko Haram abducted 276 students from a girls’ school in Chibok, 98 of the girls are still unaccounted for. and a slew of abductions have taken place since, revealing the utter failure of the Nigerian authorities to learn from the heartbreak of Chibok and, ultimately, to protect children and girls. Since the Chibok school girls were abducted, a plethora of schools have been targeted, with girls being abducted, raped, killed, or forced into “marriages.” The Nigerian authorities, however, have not carried out a single credible investigation into the security failures that left children and girls vulnerable to the atrocities committed by bandits and terrorists.
6. Humanitarian Context
Over the past three months, Nigeria has grappled with a multifaceted humanitarian crisis, exacerbating existing challenges and introducing new crises across various regions. The Northeast and North west have suffered from a prolonged lean season, compounded by dry spells and occasional droughts, intensifying food scarcity and agricultural difficulties. In stark contrast, other areas like Adamawa, Plateau, Benue, and Lagos have faced excessive rainfall, resulting in flooding, adding to the country's woes.
The outbreak of diphtheria has posed a significant health threat, further straining the already burdened healthcare system. Moreover, Nigeria has witnessed a substantial influx of refugees from Niger Republic into states like Yobe, Borno and Kano, seeking shelter and safety due to escalating uncertainties and potential crises in their home country. This influx has added to the strain on resources and infrastructure, particularly in border regions.
This situation has been amplified by internal issues. The removal of fuel subsidy and the implementation of a new foreign exchange (FX) regime by the federal government have deepened existing challenges, especially in relation to food security. These economic changes have had a compounding effect, further intensified the struggles of vulnerable populations, and placed additional stress on access to essential goods and services by the poor and those in distress situations.