Author: Sunday Joseph Duntoye
Site of publication : Afrobarometer
Type of publication : Report
Date of publication : October 2020
Sixty years after claiming its sovereign rights from the British, Nigeria is classified as a middle- income mixed economy and emerging market, with expanding manufacturing, financial, service, communications, technology, and entertainment sectors. Touted as Africa’s largesteconomy, it ranks as the 27th-largest economy in the world in terms of nominal gross domestic product and the 24th-largest in terms of purchasing power parity (World Bank, 2020a). Nigeria’s re-emergent manufacturing sector became the largest on the continent in 2013 and produces a large proportion of goods and services for the West African subcontinent (KPMG, 2015).
Yet Nigeria’s economy has struggled as the collapse of global oil prices between 2014 and 2016, combined with lower domestic oil production, put the brakes on the country’seconomic activity. Hit by the COVID-19 pandemic while still recovering from the 2016 recession, Nigeria’s economy is projected to contract by 3.2% this year, its worst recession in four decades (Business Day, 2020; World Bank, 2020b).
Findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey in Nigeria, conducted in early 2020, show that even before the coronavirus pandemic, a majority of citizens said the country’seconomy and their personal living conditions were bad, at times forcing them to go without basic necessities such as medical care and sufficient food. Most disapproved of the government’s handling of economic issues.
As of January-February 2020, only one-third (33%) of Nigerians described the country’s economic conditions as “fairly good” or “very good,” a 4-percentage-point decrease since 2017 but an 8-point increase compared to 2012 (25%). The proportion of citizens who described economic conditions as “fairly bad” or “very bad” decreased by a similar margin, from 67% in 2012 to 58%.
Citizens experiencing high lived poverty were twice as likely as those with no lived poverty to say the country’s economic conditions were bad (77% vs. 35%). Negative views about economic conditions were also more common among residents of southern Nigeria (77%), older citizens (69%), the highly educated (66%), and urbanites (65%).
Dissatisfaction with their personal living conditions was more than twice as high among citizens experiencing high lived poverty (69%) as it was among those with no lived poverty (26%). Southern citizens were twice as likely as their counterparts in the North to hold negative views about their living conditions (60% vs. 37%).
Deprivation of basic necessities
Citizens’ negative views of the country’s economy and their personal living conditions were reflected in their reported experience of having to do without five basic necessities (enough food and clean water, medical care, enough cooking fuel, and a cash income). Lack of a cash income was the form of deprivation most commonly experienced by Nigerians: More than eight in 10 (82%) said they or someone in their family went without a cash income at least once during the previous 12 months, including 32% who did so “often” or “always”. Compared to 2017, the proportion of citizens experiencing moderate or high levels of lived poverty increased by 18 percentage points, while the share of those experiencing low or no lived poverty decreased by the same margin.
Government performance on economic issues
Most Nigerians gave the government low marks on its performance on economic indicators. Only a quarter of respondents said the government was doing “fairly well” or “very well” inmanaging the economy (27%) and improving living standards of the poor (25%).
Recent Afrobarometer findings show that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerians were deeply concerned about the country’s economy and their personal living conditions. Negative assessments were especially prevalent among residents in southern Nigeria, the highly educated, and the poor.
COVID-19 and the subsequent collapse of international oil prices are further destabilizing Nigeria’s macroeconomic balances, while pandemic-associated lockdown measures have affected the supply of basic services, with both direct and indirect costs for Nigerian households. School closures are likely to reduce the food intake of some 7 million children who live in poverty and are enrolled in the national school feeding program (World Bank, 2020b).