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How Urgently Needed Is Nigeria’s Development? By Nwabueze Chibuzor

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How Urgently Needed Is Nigeria’s Development?

Nwabueze Chibuzor

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One of the key principles that determine decision making and actions always have something to do with the set priorities for the time and generally, priorities always inform urgencies or vice versa. In line with this, one would always hear statements like “treat as urgent”, “expedite on this”, “treat ASAP”, “mark green” etc.

In the discus on Nigeria’s development, we might not be able to produce very robust and concrete context analysis if we don’t critically analyse the urgency of the need for this development. Suffice this to note that a discus on the urgency for this development does not mean that development is only necessary when there is an urgency for it, but rather reinforces the notion that there is no time for any extra delays. In fact, at any and every stage in state-building as well as governance (especially in Africa), development is urgent!

According to a UNs population report, Nigeria’s population is expected to surpass that of the US by 2050. The report gave projections that predict Nigeria could be the world’s third most populous country by the end of this century.

On the continental scale, more than half of the population growth predicted between now and 2050 in the report is expected in Africa, where the number of people is set to more than double, from 1.1 billion to 2.4 billion. Africa’s population will continue to rise even if there is a future drop in the average number of children each woman has, says the report, which predicts the number of people living on the continent could reach 4.2 billion (or more than 35% of the total global population) by 2100.
If any inference is to be made from this data, in the next 30 years, Nigeria would be adding about 200 million people to its current population. The critical question at this point really is how prepared is the Nigerian state to carter for this speedily growing populace.

To answer the above, let’s take a quick look at certain available data that tells the story of our current development trajectory:

• Our GDP growth rate is still pegged at 2.3% year on year.

• We have more than half of our current population living in extreme poverty (over 86 million Nigerians) and we are the poverty capital of the world. The number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty increased by 35 million between 1990 and 2013 alone.

• In the Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) index compiled by Development Finance International (DFI) and Oxfam, Nigeria is placed bottom in a ranking of 157 nations.

• A survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicates that the population of out of school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million, the highest in the world! At the moment, Nigeria accounts for more than one in five out-of-school children in the world and 45 per cent of out-of-school children in West Africa.

• According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the current unemployment rate stands at 23.1%, and underemployment at 16.6 per cent. There is no doubt saying that these are highly under-estimated figures!

• According to the WHO, in 2015, Nigeria’s estimated maternal mortality ratio was over 800 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births, with approximately 58 000 maternal deaths during that year. By comparison, the total number of maternal deaths in 2015 in the 46 most developed countries was 1700, resulting in a maternal mortality ratio of 12 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births. In fact, a Nigerian woman has a 1 in 22 lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum/post-abortion; whereas in the most developed countries, the lifetime risk is 1 in 4900.

• According to a UNICEF report, every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 children under five and 145 women of childbearing age. Nigeria is the second-largest contributor to the under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world accounting for 14% of the world’s maternal mortality deaths (the highest in West and Central Africa).
• According to the most recent Global Terrorism Index produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), Nigeria seats as Number three as the third most terrorized country in the world with the Boko Haram still standing as one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world.

• Nigeria is still largely a Petro state, with the current and previous governments paying only lip service to the diversification of the economy and provision of the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
There are certain dangers in stating the failures of governance and development for the Nigerian state: first, the list is unending and secondly our obvious speedy transit into doom is heart-wrenching.

In the light of the above and many more issues regarding our development context, I would like to conclude this short article with the title of the article; how urgently needed is Nigeria’s development? The answer lies in the sincerity of every Nigerian’s critical conscience.

Nwabueze Chibuzor is a Development Practitioner. He is currently supporting Governance reforms in Nigeria’s North East with a broader focus on capacity support to State Government Institutions, Civil Society Organizations as well as community-based platforms advocating for more inclusive and participatory governance at the community level. He can be reached via his email address on nwabuezechibuzor979@gmail.com.

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