Nigeria in the Last Decade: 10 Things

2019 marks the end of this decade and Nigeria has evolved in both good and not so remarkable ways. Based on available information, however, Nigeria has fared poorly in many sectors more than it has done well. Here, we highlight some of the most important issues that have persisted in the decade from 2010 to 2019.

Population Increase
It is projected that by 2050, Nigeria will become the world’s third-largest country with an estimated population of 300 million at the current growth rate. In 2010, Nigeria’s population was just a little above 158 million, by 2015 this number had grown to 181.2 million. Currently, we have an estimated 198.8 million people, projected to increase to 206 million by 2020. The more the merrier, but that is not the case here as Nigeria does not seem prepared to handle its booming population. This is because of the negative correlation between economic growth and population increase. We will see this in the subsequent issues we will examine. 

Poverty Level
Nigeria is one of the five countries with 64% of the world’s extremely poor populations. In June 2018, the World Poverty Clock named Nigeria the poverty capital of the world overtaking India which has a population seven times larger than that of Nigeria. with statistics showing 86.9 million people living in poverty. UNDP released an all-encompassing report in 2019 that showed up to  98 million were living in multidimensional poverty. What is more worrying is that children are more likely to be deprived of all 10 of the MPI indicators, lacking basic needs like clean water, sanitation, adequate nutrition or primary education.

The unemployment rate in Nigeria measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labor force. The recent report by the NBS showed a 23.1% unemployment and 16.6% underemployment rate in the labor force. In 2010, it was at 5.1% and Nigeria’s population was considerably smaller than now at the time. It rose to 9% in 2015 and has been on a steady rise since then. By 2020, this number is expected to rise to about 33.2%. Nigeria needs to create four million new jobs per year to reverse this problem. The employment rate is about 76% an all-time low from 93.6% in 2014. 

In June 2009, Boko Haram launched its insurgency in Nigeria, the years that followed saw the birthing of the deadliest terrorist group in Africa. The attacks escalated in 2014, the same year in which 276 girls were abducted from a secondary school in Chibok. President Buhari’s administration proposed reforms and declared Boko Haram technically defeated by the end of 2015. While there has been progress in terms of military operations in the fight against Boko Haram, they still remain a threat to the Nigeria state and have resumed fresh attacks at civilian and military targets. Since the insurgency began, over 37,500 people have been killed and over 2.5 million people displaced from their homes. The number of casualties in the years has decreased from 2015 when the reforms were launched. The death toll in 2014 was 3,425 and 6,006 in 2015, this number went down to 937 by the end of 2016. 

Huts and sheds are seen at the Gamboru/Ngala internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Borno, Nigeria April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde – RC15D6B030A0

Banditry and Herdsmen/Farmers Clashes
While counting the little victories against Boko Haram, Nigerians were faced with a not-so-new issue but one which had not gained as much attention as the Boko Haram insurgency; herdsmen and farmers clashes of which in 2016 alone, 2500 people were killed, a toll higher than the number killed by the Boko Haram insurgency over the same period. Banditry and kidnapping have also emerged in the past three years making certain parts of the country, mostly in the north unsafe. In the first quarter of 2019 alone, 1071 people were killed with over 767 killed in the north. 685  people have been kidnapped in the same review period. 

A huge chunk of Nigeria’s problems lies in the lack of infrastructure. Over the past years, the state of infrastructure in Nigeria has not improved significantly. In fact, the health and education sector has had it worse.

On power, Nigeria has large oil, gas, hydro and solar resource, and the potential to generate 12,522 megawatts (MW) of electricity from existing plants, but is only able to generate around 4,000 MW, which is insufficient for to the population. Also, only 45% of Nigerians are connected to the national grid, and this population gets only a few hours of light at varying times of the day. However, there are several initiatives by the government to help solve this problem. One of them is the Rural Electrification Program, in partnership with private sector organizations and the world bank, aimed to scale up access to electricity services for rural households and small businesses through off-grid energy solutions. There is no consolidated data to track the progress of the solutions, but stories of change in communities are recorded on the agency’s website. 

On Educationone in every five out-of-school children in the world is in Nigeria. According to the UN, there are over 10.5 million children who do not have a primary education, mostly in the northern part of the country.  Factors like insurgency and negligence have contributed to the decay of the education sector. But the Nigerian government itself does not prioritize this sector. In 2011, it had only 9% of budget allocation, this increased to 12% in 2015 and then went down to 7.13% in 2019 as against 15-20% recommended by UNESCO. 

Ntiat and Mbak 1 Comprehensive Sec Sch, Itu in the oil-rich region, AkwaIbom
(Photo Credit: Cletus Ukpong)

On Health; When it comes to healthcare in Nigeria, there is a lot to unpack. Nigeria’s mortality rates for women and children are among the world’s highest with at least 124 children per 1000 dying before their fifth birthday. Just like education, healthcare remains underfunded, the 2018 health budget was approximately 4% of the proposed budget, against the 15% agreed on at the Abuja Declaration. 18 years since that declaration, Nigeria’s highest-ever budget share for health care was just 7%. Asides depleting infrastructure and little funding, Nigeria is losing its health professionals too. In May 2019, the NMA said 2000 doctors leave Nigeria yearly to more developed countries. Currently, Nigeria’s physician to patient ratio is 4 doctors to 10000 patients. 

On Transportation; Nigeria has a 195,000km road network, and 135,000km out of this is un-tarred. The 60,000 tarred, some are in deplorable rates due to lack of maintenance. This affects the economy and livelihood of citizens as it slows down, and increases the cost of transporting goods or persons from one part of the country to the other. The most grievous effect of this problem has been the loss of the lives of citizens.  The lack of transparency and accountability in the procurement and budgeting process also makes it difficult to track projects and contractors who are responsible for them. On average, 5000 people die yearly to road accidents. According to the NBS however, speed violations accounted for over 50% of the accidents. In finding alternatives, the government has initiated some railway projects like the Lagos -Ibadan railway which is still in progress, and the Abuja-Kaduna railway which is already in use. 

Economic Growth 
After the recession in 2016, the Federal Government came up with the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) which had an optimistic 4.5% GDP growth projection by 2019. But the growth rate in the third quarter of 2019 was 2.28%  with the year closing at  2.9% according to Statista. There aren’t any signs the numbers will go up significantly as the projected growth level in 2020 is 2.52%, but progress has been made, seeing there has been a steady(but slow) increase since the recession ended.  Oil production levels are also currently lower than the ERGP’s projections. The production level was  2582 barrels as at the end of 2010, this number reduced to 2097 in 2015 and currently sits at 2,079 barrels per day selling for $73.65 per barrel.  While fuel prices fluctuate, Nigeria has seen a rise in her public debt (both international and domestic). In 2015, Nigeria’s debt profile rose to $65,428.53 and was $83, 882.6 as of June 2019. These matters because interest and servicing of national debt reduce the availability of money for another spending. Also, Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio which is currently at 29.8% is risky and will increase to 31% at the current rate.

Environmental Degradation and Climate Change
Nigeria loses approximately 350,000 hectares of land to advancing desert yearly in the northern region and 0.6km per year in the south. This desertification is negatively impacting the livelihoods of farming and fishing communities and accounts for up to 50%of land related conflicts and communal clashes in the region. While deforestation and desertification eats up the north, gas flaring, oil spillage, toxic waste and water from chemical activities degrade the land, kill livestock and sabotage the food system in the southern region, particularly the Niger Delta where 1/6 of gas flaring activities in the world occur. This gas flared, if contained is enough to generate electricity for the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. Other regions like the commercial city of Lagos is prone to flood while the southeast suffers erosion, making it difficult or even impossible to sustain farmlands and houses. These conditions can cause people to begin to move to the middle belt which is already suffering climate-change communal, herder-settler and religious conflicts. The strain on resources can lead to bigger conflict.  This is not a food and environmental crisis only, but a national security issue, because while the environmental resources are shrinking. Waste management also poses a huge environmental burden in Nigeria due to improper collection and disposal. Nigeria generates more than 32 million tons of solid waste annually, out of which only 20-30% is collected properly. This is a public health concern and requires attention before it gets out of control.

Advancing Desert in North-Eastern Nigeria
Photo Credit: Yaradua Foundation (Nowhere to Run)

Police Brutality/Shrinking Civic Space 
While Boko Haram insurgency and banditry across the most northern part of Nigeria remains rife.  Police Brutality has become lucrative and has taken center stage especially in the southern region of the country and the Federal Capital Territory. In 2016, Amnesty International said it found 130 people detained by SARS in a detention center known as the “Abattoir” or slaughterhouse in Abuja.  Since citizens mostly report through social media platforms to rally help, there aren’t enough statistics recorded around this issue but it has persisted for decades, No officer has faced trial for these acts of violence. Civil Society groups are also not left out of the witch hunt, as state security agencies are used to stifle media and civic spaces.  

At the center of the many issues troubling Nigeria is systemic corruption that exists at every level and sector of government, taking many forms from petty bribery to extortion, unreported revenues to malpractices in the procurement process siphoning of public funds to private use, and padding the budget. This has negative impacts on income level, policies, allocation of resources, it weakens public institutions, denies citizens access to public infrastructure and slows GDP growth. Even Employment in government parastatals is subject to bribery and godfatherism. As of 2014, the cost of corruption person in Nigeria is $1000 it will be nearly $2000 per person by 2030. It will also cost up to 37% of GDP by 2030. The various methods and unlikely places where corruption occurs in Nigeria are overwhelming and need immediate attention. Nigeria scored 27 points out of 100 in the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International and ranked at number 148 out of 180 countries. In January 2019, Nigeria moved up to 144 out of 180 countries but still remains at 27 points.  While the current administration has made efforts to recover stolen funds, there is no framework to track and monitor the use of these funds. The president also recently launched the open treasury portal, as part of its transparency initiatives, requiring the accountant general of the federation to publish all government spending above 5 million naira. 

Summarily, Nigeria in the last ten years has seen slow GDP growth, a 15-month long recession, rising unemployment, rising debt, and soaring poverty levels (the highest number in the world). also, while the economy grows at approximately 2%, the annual population growth rate is 3%. A review of existing policies to drive development and economic growth can help boost GDP growth and contain population explosion.