The Economist has come out with the verdict that Nigerians became poorer during the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, insisting that while the Nigerian economy was “stuck like a stranded truck,” average incomes fell during the four-year period covering 2015 to 2019.
In the report posted on its website, the magazine said based on the position of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the average income of Nigerians “will not rise for at least another six years.”
“The Nigerian economy is stuck like a stranded truck. Average incomes have been falling for four years; the IMF thinks they will not rise for at least another six (years).
“The latest figures put unemployment at 23 per cent, after growing for 15 consecutive quarters.
“Some 94 million people live on less than $1.90 a day, more than in any other country, and the number is swelling. By 2030, a quarter of very poor people will be Nigerians, predicts the World Data Lab, which counts such things,” the report explained.
Also, the report is of the view that the naira was overvalued because the government had spent decades neglecting basic public goods such as roads, schools and electricity.
“Where urgency is needed, Mr Buhari offers only caution. Few are holding their breath for any more drive in his second term, which began on May 29th.
“Yet officials are postponing a crisis, not averting one. Consider borrowing. The debt-to-GDP ratio is 28 per cent, but Nigeria collects so little in tax that interest payments swallow about 60 per cent of federal revenues,” the report added.
The medium said that public finances would be healthier if the government raised the price of fuel, which is imported by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and sold on at a loss. This can be interpreted as a call for the removal of petrol subsidy.
It would be recalled that the Senate just recently approved the payment of N129 billion subsidy payment for 67 oil marketers and also revealed that the Federal Government had made subsidy payment of N11 trillion in six years.
For Nigeria to prosper, the report said the government should harness the potential of its 200 million citizens.