By Charles Nwaoguji
The Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf, has called for proactive measures to tackle increasing rates of poverty and unemployment in the country.
He said this while reviewing performance of the economy after 21 years of Democratic governance.
He said, “Nigeria has earned the country enormous goodwill, as one of the few stable democracies in Africa. The economy has benefited from this goodwill, as investors are generally more comfortable with a democratic environment. However, Nigeria needs core Democratic values to address poverty and unemployment in the system.
“The present administration’s performance from a socioeconomic and welfare perspective, was not up to scratch. The data on trends in per capita income, poverty, unemployment and food inflation supports this position. Per capita income fell steadily between 2015 and 2018.
Although dataset ended in 2018, however judging from present realities, GDP per capita fell further in 2019 as population growth rate (estimated at 2.7%) exceeded GDP growth (2.27%) in 2019.
“The performance from poverty reduction perspective gives cause for concern. In 2018, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the world’s most extreme poor people despite India having a population seven times larger than Nigeria’s.
“According to the World Poverty Clock, the number of extremely poor Nigerians rose to 91.6 million in 2019 from 87 million in 2018, implying that close to half of Nigerian’s population size live below the poverty line.
“A more recent data by the National Bureau of Statistics put poverty rate at 40% in 2019, indicating that 80 million Nigerians are in poverty. Worsening poverty situation in Nigeria is partly driven by rising cost of living particularly prices of food products.
“The acceleration in average food prices from 9.9% in 2015 to 13.7% in 2019 reinforces this position. Other factors are inadequate investment in social infrastructure, education and health, at all levels of government, quality of infrastructure which is a major limiting factor to productivity growth in the economy.
“The unemployment situation in Nigeria worsened as rate of joblessness spiked from 10.44% in 2015-Q4 to 23.1% in 2018-Q3.
Latest unemployment figure of 23.1% does not reflect recent realities following the Covid 19 induced downturn in the economy.