Poverty ravages Nigerians as inflation spikes
Nigeria is battling multi-faceted economic challenges which have impacted on the citizens, widening the poverty gap and dashing hopes of a quick recovery.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), well over 133 million Nigerians are living in multi-dimensional poverty but experts say the figure has swelled lately to over 160 million out of a population of over 200 million.
The inflation numbers, especially headline inflation, have risen for 10 consecutive times this year according to the Statistician-General of the Federation, Semiu Adeniran.
He pegged the latest headline inflation (October) at 27.33 per cent. In September, headline inflation rate was 26.72 per cent.
Food inflation rose to 31.52 per cent from 30.64 per cent in September. Core inflation also grew to 22.58 per cent from 21.84 per cent the previous month.
Unemployment has also spiked above 33 per cent, though the NBS recently revised the methodology for computing unemployment which saw the number magically reduced. But that has not changed the fact that majority of the citizens live in squalor.
Regardless of the inflation numbers, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed optimism in ensuring price stability, saying that its monetary policy tightening stance has paid off with Nigeria’s headline inflation rate, on a month-on-month basis, in October 2023, standing at 1.73 per cent, 0.37 per cent, which is lower than the rate recorded in September 2023.
Nonetheless, experts blame the economic woes on insecurity which has reduced food and crude oil production, the two major inflation drivers.
Other factors are; skyrocketed transportation cost due to petrol subsidy removal, tumbled naira which sprang from the currency float arrangement of the CBN that has destabilized the finance ecosystem and infrastructural decay. Also fingered are; a sovereign debt of N87.38 trillion, weak export and a profligate administrative structure in all the arms of government.
More so, Nigeria has faced high unemployment for decades as rapid population growth outpaced economic growth, amid unbridled corruption that has hampered even wealth distribution.
To ensure Nigeria does not choke from staggering sovereign debt, the Minister of Finance, Mr Wale Edun, has ruled out further borrowing to avoid boxing the country into a debt trap.
He told legislators on Friday that it was completely unacceptable for Nigeria to spend 98 per cent of its revenue on debt service when there are critical infrastructural challenges to address.
Tilewa Adebajo, the Chief Executive Officer of CFG Advisory, a financial consulting firm, who spoke on a television programme yesterday, said there are genuine concerns in several quarters as headline inflation inches towards 30 per cent.
He knocked the Buhari administration for swelling Nigeria’s debt with additional N30 trillion loan through ways and means financing.
He said: “If you want to grow the economy, you can’t have inflation inching towards 30 per cent. We must tackle inflation to get out of stagflation.
“We’ve not sufficiently invested in our oil and gas sector. Crude oil production at 1.3mbd is low and not up to our OPEC quarter.
“The Federal Government cannot do it alone and we need to build the private sector. FG’s contribution to GDP is just about 8 per cent. Build the private sector and get economy to perform better,” he said.