Sunday, August 30, 2015

Nigeria's Inequality

 Nigeria has revenues of over $80 billion from oil reserves alone, yet wealth inequality in the country is among one of the worst in the world.

Absolute poverty in Nigeria (earning less than a dollar a day) has increased from 55% in 2004 to 61% in 2014 and in contrast; there are almost 16,000 millionaires currently living in Nigeria, a 44% increase in the last 6 years. This is expected to grow to 23,000 by 2017, which represents a 47% increase. In Lagos, which is Africa’s most populous city, wealth inequality is most prominent and is home to 9,500 of these millionaires. These figures represent a huge issue with wealth distribution and are attributed to a number of factors embedded within the Nigerian culture, system and policies. Even with its abundant oil resources amounting to $80+ billion in annual revenue for the country, poverty is increasingly becoming a major issue for a vast amount of the population. Under these conditions, many inhabitants are forced to live in slums with limited access to food, education, electricity and clean water.

The main factors that contribute to wealth inequality in Nigeria are corruption and high governance costs. Corruption is a major issue that is contributing to the increasing wealth gap between the rich and poor in Nigeria. Corruption has been ever present since the country’s independence in the 1960’s and it now seems to be an issue that is embedded within the Nigerian system and culture. There is a need for transparency and accountability in the Nigerian system and until that is achieved, the wealth gap in the country will continue to get worse.

A report by the Sahara Reporters in 2012 found that it costs Nigerians $8.3 billion to pay the salaries of those in politics. In 2012, $7.4 was to be spent on developing infrastructure, but only half of this was spent towards its development. To put this into perspective, it meant that for every dollar spent on infrastructure development in Nigeria, two dollars are spent on salaries of those in politics. 

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