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Nigerian economy is “stuck like stranded truck” under Buhari ─ Economist

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THE Economist magazine has described the Nigerian economy under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as being “stuck like a stranded truck” where Nigerians became poorer during his first term. 

The magazine, in a report on Thursday, analysed how more Nigerians slipped into poverty under the Buhari’s watch while projecting more misery ahead in his second term that started on May 29.

It stated that the average incomes fell during the four-year period covering 2015 to 2019, Buhari’s first term. The Economist said based on the thinking of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the average income of Nigerians “will not rise for at least another six years.”

“Average incomes have been falling for four years; the IMF thinks they will not rise for at least another six,” the report read partly.

The magazine said there is “little sign of the kind of export-led industrial revolution that has lifted incomes in Asia.”

“This is not only because the naira is overvalued. It is also because the state has spent decades neglecting basic public goods, like roads, schools and electricity,” it read in part.

Referring to the poverty rate in the country, it said about 94 million people live on less than $1.90 a day (N685), adding that “the number is swelling”.

“By 2030, a quarter of very poor people will be Nigerians, predicts the World Data Lab, which counts such things.”

It said “where urgency is needed, Mr Buhari offers only caution. Few are holding their breath for any more drive in his second term, which began on May 29th.”

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The economist frowned at the federal government’s social investment programmes (SIP) which, saying they have not been yielding the needed result.

“Although the government has expanded school-feeding programmes and is working on a safety-net for the poor, most citizens get few benefits from the state,” the report read.

It added that public finances would be healthier if the government raised the price of fuel which is imported by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation and sold on at a loss.

In 2018, it said subsidy was worth at least 0.5 per cent of the GDP, relating the amount to equal almost what the government spent on health care.

For Nigeria to prosper, the magazine asked the government to harness the “vim of its 200m citizens.” It said currently the government ignores the population, except when their votes were needed. 

It said Buhari needs to solve the revenue crisis in his second term to reduce poverty ratio in the country.

“Oxfam, a charity, ranks 157 countries on their commitment to reducing inequality, based on social spending, taxes and labour laws: Nigeria comes last,” the report stated, quoting Oxfam report.

Many reports have put Nigeria among countries filled with millions of people that are poor. Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK), during her visit to the country in August 2018, recognised Nigeria as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty.

She had said many Nigerians were thriving with some individuals enjoying the fruits of a resurgent economy, “yet 87 million Nigerians live below $1 and 90 cents a day, making it home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world.

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