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Nigeria’s development slowed under Buhari – World Bank

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The World Bank has said that development progress in the country has slowed down since 2015 when Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) was first elected as President.

According to the World Bank’s Nigeria public finance review report titled, ‘A Better Future for All Nigerians: 2022 Nigeria Poverty Assessment’, Nigeria performed well between 2001 and 2014, with an average growth of seven per cent, and was among the top 15 fastest-growing economies globally.

The report released on November 21, 2022, read in part, “Nigeria’s development progress has stagnated. Between 2001 and 2014, Nigeria was a rising star in West Africa, with an average growth rate of seven per cent per year, and it ranked among the top 15 fastest-growing economies in the world.

“However, this trend ended abruptly in 2015, as oil prices fell, the security situation deteriorated, macroeconomic reforms were reversed, and economic policies became increasingly unpredictable.

“In 2019 and 2020, Nigeria suffered slumping oil prices combined with the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the GDP growth rate averaged just 1.1 per cent between 2015 and 2021. As economic growth slowed, rapid population growth reversed gains in per capita income, while the number of Nigerians living in poverty steadily increased.”

The bank further said that it would take about a decade for Nigeria to return to its GDP per capita level of 2014, adding that the real capita income fell significantly in 2021.

“At the end of 2021, Nigeria’s real per capita income had fallen to its level in the 1980s. Even at the average per capita GDP growth rate of 1.1 per cent observed in 2021 (which was partly a result of base effects following the 2020 recession), it would take roughly a decade for Nigeria to return to the level of GDP per capita seen in 2014, just before the oil shock.

“Nigeria is one of the world’s least-diversified oil producers and, while the growth rate and its fiscal and external positions have historically improved during periods of high oil prices, this will not be the case in 2021 and 2022. The decoupling of macroeconomic and fiscal trends from the cycle of global oil prices will make it harder for Nigeria to benefit from the tailwinds generated by commodity booms,” the report read.

However, the National Bureau of Statistics recently disclosed that 133 million Nigerians were multi-dimensionally poor, which surpassed the World Bank’s projection.

Reacting to this, a development economist, Dr Aliyu Ilias, agreed with the World Bank, noting that the country was not developing as it should.

He said, “I agree totally with the World Bank. We say we are having growth but the growth is figurative and not reflecting development in the country.”

He added that the country was struggling with some recurrent issues, such as insecurity threatening the agriculture sector, and fuel subsidy shortening oil revenue.

He urged the government to remove fuel subsidy and boost oil production.

Also, a professor of Political Economy and founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership, Pat Utomi, said the signs of a stagnant development were visible since the inauguration of the president.

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