Guest Article

COVID-19 AND THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC CRISIS IN NIGERIA. A REMONSTRANCE TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT _Folorunsho Abiodun Hassan_ (FOLLYOMOYABEJI)

“When confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution while the undecided heart will search for an escape” – (Andy Andrew). 

Obviously, it is no news that Nigeria, the giant of Africa, one of the richest country on the continent, and currently, the most populous black country worldwide is also tagged as one of the most corrupt, characterized by increasing security challenges and a high debt profile. Engulfed in an abundance of socio-economic and infrastructural shortcomings, the country is also exposed to unwarranted weaknesses such as tribal-clashes, terrorism and electoral malpractices to mention a few.

These horrendous events have triggered alot of thoughtful and well-meaning Nigerians to induce a clarion call to liberate and improve the country. Yet, the problem persists rather than go away. .

The Nigerian economy is currently treading shaky waters with the collapse of crude oil prices around the world. The Federal Government is currently struggling to revive its economy in spite of dwindling oil revenues which is compounded by unemployment, poverty and insurgencies.

Global poverty projections released by The Brookings Institution which was based on data from the World Poverty Clock in 2018 showed that Nigeria had overtaken India as home to the largest population of people living in extreme poverty, with 87 million citizens living on less than $1.90 a day, compared to India’s 73 million. 

Currently, the decline in oil prices by 55% between the end of 2019 down to March 2020 is considered one of the most serious economic shocks the country has ever witnessed, especially as the oil sector contributes about 65% and 90% to government and total export revenues respectively.

As of 18 March, 2020, the price of crude oil dipped to US$29.62/barrel. Meanwhile, the Federal Government had estimated the budget for 2020 by calculating oil prices at US$57/barrel and production at 2.18 million barrels per day, invariably translating to the fact that if prices continue to remain at its current level or drops further, there’d be a decline in 48% of expected revenue from oil sales per month, resulting in a reduction in funds for the actualization of this budget. This alone can reduce fiscal revenue by about $10B and export earnings by $19B. This decline in export revenues is projected to have a combined effect of 0.55% points drop in GDP. 

Also, based on the recent world poverty projections, the signs of Nigeria’s leadership failures are now even more glaring as nearly one hundred million Nigerians are in danger of falling into extreme poverty by 2022. This startling revelation implies that despite being the largest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria is unable to translate its oil wealth into rising living standards for its growing population. 

As regards her health sector, nothing explains better than its current precarious state, and that of the health of its citizens during the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

In the wake of the index case in the country, Nigeria and her government moved from denial to empty promises and subsequently to panic mode nurtured by the level of inadequacies these leaders have always attempted to cover up. 
Aside from Lagos State whose pro-active and responsive administration has set the pace for the management of the spread of the coronavirus disease, most states, including the Federal Government has demonstrated its familiar costly untimeliness and fire-brigade approach to the crisis by refusing to promptly act the way a responsible government does. 

This analysis also aims to unmask the severe socio-political and economic uproar being witnessed currently in the country, and of course, how the novel coronavirus disease had helped expose the precarious state of her health sector.

Future analysis would base on her Security, Economy and her Health Sector. Please note, this post reflects the views of the writer alone.

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