It is no longer news that the Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms Christine Lagarde had identified poverty, inequality and unemployment as challenges militating against the progress and development of Nigeria.
Lagarde had indeed reminded the President Muhammdu Buhari-led government that there is much to do to put the country in the right path of development.
Poverty in particular has been a problem, for more than 50 per cent of the Nigerian population in the past 10 years, over 60 per cent now living below poverty line. In 1980 however a little less than 30 per cent of Nigerians were living below the poverty line. And this is a country with massive wealth and a huge population to support commerce.
The IMF boss was quoted as commending the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the steps so far taken in repositioning the economy. She said while the Nigerian economy had been diversified from agriculture and oil, the reduced emerging market demand and tightening of global financial conditions had led to sharply lower export earnings and government revenues.
In her words, “In my meetings with the authorities, we discussed how to maintain economic progress while making the transition towards more inclusive and sustainable growth. Poverty, inequality, and unemployment levels remain too high, in addition to the challenge of the Boko Haram insurgency.
“Nigeria also has to deal with the difficulties presented by falling oil prices, reduced emerging market demand, and tightening global financial conditions. This has led to sharply lower export earnings and government revenues. The non-oil sector has also been affected and financing for investment is hard to come by.”
Lagarde stated further, “Nigeria is the largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, with the largest population, and its important role at the regional level has become increasingly recognised.
“The economy is well diversified, no longer dominated by agriculture and oil, with services accounting for almost half of the GDP, including a significant home-grown film industry and innovative start-ups from fashion to software development.
“Nigeria has also experienced a decade of strong growth, averaging 6.8 per cent a year. In 2015, however, growth is expected to slow to about 3 ¼ per cent, with a slight recovery in 2016.
“I complimented the authorities on their efforts to address corruption, particularly the decision to publish monthly data on the finances and operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
“Transparency and the rule of law will be crucial in reducing constraints to the country’s growth.”
Nigerian NewsDirect believes that the federal government should look into the issues raised by the IMF boss and start ameliorating the sufferings of Nigerians while addressing a range of policy recommendations related to improving the competitiveness of the Nigerian economy.