With the eventful 2014 over, Godwin Anyebe takes a look at how Nigerians fared economically.
Nigerians across various sectoral bodies entered the year with great expectations. With the centenary celebration and this year’s election gathering momentum, Nigerians foresaw a robust business opportunity earlier in the year which will at the end translate to job creation and of course reduce the challenges of unemployment. To this end, public servants, civil servants, private organisations among others prepared for a juicy economic year.
By year end however, nothing seemed to have changed in terms of how the average citizen fared. Nonetheless, some developments gave positive signal that at a point the economic would bring good fortune. News about GDP that rose to $510 billion following the reclassification of the base year from 1990 to 2010 would also serve as a booster for further economic activities. The development saw the size of the Nigeria’s economy leap by 11 steps to become the 26th largest economy in the world ahead of South Africa’s which had held sway as the continent’s frontline economy hitherto.
Economic Confidential findings revealed that towards the end of first quarter, aside from the new investors who have indicated interest to invest in the emerging economy, major multinationals concluded plan to increase their investment. Unilever Nigeria Limited, PZ Cussons, Promasidor and Nestle Nigeria Plc have jacked up their investments in preparation for more marketing activities
Unemployment according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is among the biggest threats to social stability in many countries including Nigeria, putting the global rate at 12.6% (ILO, 2012). When compared with her counterparts in the continent, Nigeria’s unemployment crisis is more serious. Finding revealed that South Africa’s unemployment rate is currently standing at about 22%, and in Ghana is about 14 percent by 2010.
With reports putting Nigeria’s unemployment rate at about 24 percent; and 60 per cent of the country’s population being youths, the reality is that there are at least 130 million young people in the country. A statistics has it that half of the 174 million Nigerians are 14 years old and below. Youth unemployment rate is over 50 percent; about 64 million Nigeria youths are unemployed. For a nation without social safety nets like welfare or unemployment stipend, these 64 million Nigerians live each day looking to survive by all means necessary including involvements in violent criminal acts that constantly threaten the security of the populace.
The National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS) released job creation figures for the first half of the year showing that the economy created 500,224 jobs. According to the report, in the first quarter (Q1), the formal sector recorded 76,018 new jobs; informal recorded 158,894 new jobs, while the public sector recorded 5,959 new jobs. Total new jobs in Q1 of 2014 was 240,871, representing a decrease by 10.3 per cent from the previous Q, which recorded 265,702 jobs and lower than the 431,021 jobs created in the corresponding Q in 2013.
Electricity is known to be the nerve of any economy. Understanding this fact, nations that crave for growth and development put electricity at the heart of planning and strategy. But the case is not the same in Nigeria with the nation’s electricity sector in an epileptic state for more than a decade now.
The claim has been that government has made several attempts to resuscitate the electricity without tangible result. The October 2013 handover of unbundled power companies to private investors raised popular hope for much improved electricity supply but the situation remained much the same by end of 2014.
During the year, military and security forces continued to battle insecurity with little success. Armed robbery, kidnapping, communal disputes, terrorism, among others are some challenges that confronted.
The most important function of government is protection of lives and properties but many Nigerians believe that their government has failed in this responsibility.
A bit of consolation is the fact that terrorism is a current global phenomenon and proving rather intractable to manage and so, Nigerians commend effort of their troops to combat terrorists especially in parts of the north.
All said it was a difficult year in the history of Nigeria as regards security. On a particular night in April as secondary school pupils were writing school certificate examinations, over 230 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group. Hundreds of thousands others were also displaced from their respective towns and villages in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states.
Decaying infrastructure is one of the deficiencies that Nigeria’s National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) seeks to address. Government has begun to repair the poorly maintained road network. One of the ways that government wants to rehabilitate dilapidated railway system is to privatise the Nigerian Railway Corporation. Report revealed that Nigeria has the largest road network in West Africa and the second largest south of the Sahara, with roughly 108,000 km of surfaced roads in 1990. However these are poorly maintained and are often cited as a cause for the high rate of traffic and accident fatalities. It is also worthy of note that the federal ministry of work with its agencies received accolade this year for concerted effort toward road rehabilitation.
Food security supply is essential to any meaningful growth and development, hence developed countries of the world do everything within their reach to ensure that there is adequate food supply. Nigeria is known to be a country that is richly blessed with variety of food but the question is with the chain of distribution.
In 2014, food supply suffered a major setback due to widespread security challenges. Speaking with Economic Confidential against this background, a major food supplier at Alaba Rago market, in Lagos State, Inusa Usman said: “before now we used to have queues of lorries carrying food stuff from the north awaiting offloading, but the case is not like that because of the activities of the insurgents in North East where happen to be a major market where we buy our product”.
Inusa who said one of the major reason for increase in food prices last year was because of shortage in supply called on stakeholders to work together towards ensuring that the country gets back to where it used to be in terms of food supply.
Pundits believe poverty in Nigeria is not a 2014 issue, but the government has the responsibility to create an enabling environment, which will guarantee high productivity and self employment while Nigerians also should domesticate investment.
According to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report, 70 per cent of Nigerians live below poverty line. The same report placed the citizens as one of the 20 poorest in the world, ranking 57th in terms of gross national product (GNP), 124th in gender related development and 151st in human development index. The report also revealed that Nigeria’s contribution to global GDP is a mere 0.22 per cent ranking it 187th in GNP per capita income.
Import dependency is one of the major problems analysts identified as another issue confronting the nation’s economy is its import dependency, as virtually all goods and commodities consumed in the country. For instance, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, was reported as saying that the country spends over N356 billion annually on the importation of rice and another N100 billion on importing fish.
Adesina also regretted that the country has the third absolute number of stunted children in the world with 41 percent of children under the age of five stunted, 23 percent underweight.
It is widely reported that Nigerians are some of the happiest people on earth and this is because in spite of often hopeless situations, Nigerians still believe in the destiny of their country. From observation, despite the security situation in parts of the country, people still visit football viewing centres to watch both local and international matches. Not only that, despite bombing of beer parlours, a careful observation revealed that Nigerians still go out to have fun with friends and well-wishers.
Pundits agreed that if there was anything the government of the day will receive accolades for in 2014, it was the National Conference that held during the year.