From boom to doom: Nigeria’s story of descent into poverty (capital)

May 30, 2021
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From the 1970s of the oil boom era when the economy positioned it as a potential African powerhouse, Nigeria enjoyed tremendous economic wellbeing late into the 80s. By 1980 for example the Naira exchanged for one dollar, but by 1983 it had dropped to N3.00.

From then there had been no significant recovery till date at least not back to what it was in the 80s. By 1990 the naira exchanged for N9 to the dollar. By 1995 it exchanged for N50 to the dollar and today it is threatening to exchange for N500 to the dollar.

After some sort of recovery in the 2000s, things began to look up but not for long. In 2014, for example, Nigeria became the 21st largest economy in the world and overtook South Africa as the largest economy on the African continent with oil accounting for 75 per cent of its revenue.

However, the recovery continued to be dependent on oil revenue with increasing output from manufacturing, financial services, telecommunications and media. This temporarily enticed foreign investors which boosted the economy for some time.

Despite this temporary recovery the country was to descend again into recession as it was declared in 2018 by the World Poverty Clock as the poverty capital of the world.

By 2015 the naira exchanged for N195 to the dollar but that was to get worse as it almost doubled in devaluation to about N345 within one year. Since then it had exchanged for N350, N370 and N380 to the dollar in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively while also almost touching a high of N500 in those years.

The 2018 World Poverty Clock report was to indicate that Nigeria overtook India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. The report was a damning one on successive governments in the country for mismanaging the country’s vast oil riches as a result of corrupt practices and gross incompetence.

Consequently about 50 per cent of the country’s almost 200 million people now live in abject poverty while much smaller countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, and Mauritania continued to make steady progress giving hope to the Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty in the world by 2030.

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