The Challenges of Economic Recession on the Dignity of Nigeria Citizens
It is no longer a news that Nigeria, the giant of Africa is presently experiencing a challenging time which has a great toll on the dignity of the citizens of the country. Nigeria is faced with one of the deepest and most troubling economic recession ever to plaque the country. Economic recession, according to The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is a “significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in a real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), real income, employment, industrial products and wholesale – retail sales.” It is a negative real GDP growth rate for two consecutive quarters (say first and second quarters). Critically looking at this definition above, Nigeria is experiencing economic recession currently, since her first and second quarters’ growth in 2016 are ‒1.7% and ‒2.6%.
Many Economists have attributed the economic recession in Nigeria to poor economic planning and inadequate concrete implementation of her economic planning, high inflation rate; high interest rate, high taxation, and policy conflict. Most significantly, it has been attributed to the over dependent of Nigeria Government on oil for over 60% of its total revenues and the country for over 90% of her foreign exchange earnings, while the state governments are dependent to the extent of over 90% on the Federal government for their revenues and 10% from their internal generated revenues.
The collapse of oil prices since two years ago from $145.00 per barrel a year ago to today’s price hovering just above $40.00 per barrel, surely has an immediate and disastrous impact on the budget of the governments of the federation, be it local, state, or federal. The Nigeria economy is now in a state of crises. As a result of the economic downturn, Nigeria Naira has been depreciated against the American Dollar. This fast depreciation of Naira against Dollar is affecting the economy and adding to the suffering of the Nigerians.
The economic recession threatens the full range of human rights, particularly economic and social rights such as the rights to an adequate standard of living and the rights to health, housing, food and education. The economic recession is devastating lives and livelihoods of many people across the country, and quickly translating into rising unemployment among the Nigerian Youth, hunger and powerlessness. Exacerbated by the failure of many state governments to pay workers’ salaries timely, this situation has pushed millions of Nigerians into extreme poverty. According to UNICEF, “More than 1 million people in the North East region are in danger of extreme malnutrition and have become internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their own country…. 130 children die every day as a result of lack of food. The UN estimates that about 7 million people need assistance especially food of which over 250,000 are children under five years of age.”
The Catholic Bishops of Nigeria in their Second National Conference (2016) have cried out that many people have lost their jobs and those who are fortunate to retain theirs are not paid as and when due. There is hunger in the land. They thereby call on Nigeria government to create more job opportunities for people, while also urging the Nigerians to moderate their taste for foreign goods, reduce waste and be more prudent in expenditure. There is therefore an urgent need for the government to avoid and mitigate the negative effects of the economic recession on the dignity and rights of several Nigerians living in abject poverty by providing the socially and economically vulnerable with social protection programmmes to protect them from severe poverty and deprivation.
Sr. Anthonia Bolanle Ojo, SSMA