There has been a lot of talk over recent weeks about that state of Nigeria as we head towards these historic elections. Some people are claiming that crisis is imminent. Others believe that crisis is already here. As a researcher and a typically Nigerian sceptic, I believe it is time to let the numbers answer this question. No bias, no tendentious reporting or mendacious analysis; just some hard and fast numbers.
Let’s start with unemployment, a matter close to all our hearts. We all have that basic dream of sustaining our families, or just earning a living in a respectable job. Despite what our president says, no, we are not lazy, nor do we believe oil will make us all rich (those managing that sector have been showing us that for years!). We just want to work hard and earn an honest living. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in January 2015, Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate was 11.7%. This is not even that high, similar to some countries in Europe. However since the APC came into power, this has all changed. By the end of 2017 reports showed we had reached 33.1%. A staggering increase in such a short amount of time.
Meanwhile poverty rates are putting Nigeria on the map. Unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. We now have the most number of poor people in the world. Incredibly we have even overtaken India, a poor country of over one billion people. Today we have 87 million Nigerians, according to The World Poverty Clock, now living in extreme poverty. Not hungry. Not quite poor. Butextreme poverty. In a country with such wealth, one has no choice but to send an accusatory finger in the direction of the government.
What about some other basics? Clean water for example. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), conducted by our own government in 2016/17, demonstrates that approximately 40 per cent of households (about 69 million people), do not have any access to clean water sources. This is no campaign propaganda, these are government figures. However, what many people missed in this survey was something much darker. That same report also showed that “90.8% of household members drank water contaminated to some degree by E coli bacteria, whether their water came from improved water sources or unimproved ones (such as tanker trucks and unprotected wells).”
And what about violence? We feel it. We see it. But what do the numbers say? A recent Amnesty International report showed that over 3,600 Nigerians were killed just this year in herdsmen violence. “The Nigerian authorities have failed to prosecute those who have committed crimes,” wrote Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria. “People are grieving on both sides of the conflict but feel that the only way you can get attention is with violence. So the cycle continues.” The government has simply failed to deal with this violence, and all supposed efforts have just the situation worse for all.
Meanwhile, while our president has repeatedly claimed to have defeated Boko Haram, it is clear they are still on the rampage. In the last decade, according to the Council of Foreign Relations, a respected think-tank, we have seen over 35,000 deaths, over two million displaced people, and hundreds of thousands of Nigerians seeking refuge. And the terrorists are far from defeated. This week, in Borno State, Boko Haram attacked villages and military bases, burned down more than 300 hectares of rice plantations, and massacred our soldiers. President Buhari’s claim in 2015 that we had “technically won the war” on Boko Haram was delusional at best, misleading at worst.
And then of course, there is corruption. The World Economic Forum gave Nigeria a pathetic 27/100, whereby 100 is completely corruption free, and zero is complete and utter corruption. Clearly we are at the wrong end of the league table. But a figure which should scare all of us hungry, jobless, struggling Nigerians is the magic “50 billion” figure which our own Vice President declared Nigeria is losing to corruption every single year. This figure he announced at the eighth Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa (ACA). Check it, read it and weep. Crisis is not imminent, crisis is here.
These numbers are worrying. They are worrying for our present. And they are worrying for our future. What is incredible is that the government is patently aware of the crisis we face. One glance at their own facts and figures and the crisis is there for all of us to see. Yet instead of finding solutions, the APC administration has spent four years exacerbating the pain.
Though let’s be honest, as Nigerians: we don’t need these numbers to prove the crisis we are in. We live it, we breathe it. But as elections are just around the corner, we may no longer have to tolerate it.
Victoria Abuto, Abuja