The World Bank has advised Nigeria to reduce the poverty net in a presentation by Alex Sienaert, its chief economist, saying in real value, the N30,000 minimum wage now worth N19,355 ($26), as over the past decade macroeconomic stability has steadily deteriorated which has eroded growth potential and hindered poverty reduction goal.

The bank said this at the Corporation’s launch of the Nigeria Development Update for December 2022 Edition and the Country Economic Memorandum held in Abuja last Thursday.

Nigeria’s accelerated inflation growth has eroded the value of Nigeria’s N30,000 minimum wage by 55 percent and widened the poverty net with an estimated five million people in 2022, the World Bank said.

Nigeria’s inflation, which currently stands at 21.47 percent, is the highest peak in at least 17 years and the income of citizens is failing to keep pace with inflation with civil servants and low-income households most hit by the squeeze.

Nigeria has the potential and resources to accelerate growth and reduce poverty but the current policy framework hinders prospects for economic growth and job creation, as issues around multiple exchange rates, protectionist policies, trading restrictions pose barriers, the bank noted.

“If structural reforms are not implemented, Nigeria’s future looks bleak, per capita income will plateau, Nigerians will not have a full-time job by 2030 and if the employment rate does not improve, 23 million more Nigerians will live in extreme poverty by 2030,” according to the chief economist.

He stressed the need for reforms such as the adoption of a single and market reflective exchange rate, elimination of petrol subsidy, reduce insecurity, increase non-oil revenues through taxes, etc.

“Unlocking private investment can generate economic opportunities for Nigeria’s growing population, accelerating structural transformation and promoting the diversification of its economy,” he said.

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said Nigeria needs help because the government at the national and sub-national levels cannot provide all the financing required to meet Nigeria’s investment to drive development and growth.

The minister, who was represented by the Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, said Nigeria’s growth prospects have improved, however, pre-crisis challenges threaten the post-crisis recovery, with consequence for a continuous decline in GDP per capita which necessitates the need for drastic reforms.

“We need the private sector, foreign and domestic as integral partners in securing the much needed financing required to fund both physical and social investments for Nigeria’s overall development,” the minister said.

The Nigerian economy has demonstrated considerable resilience in addressing the challenges, she said, noting that through the implementation of the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI) Nigeria will grow its revenue and alleviate the pressure on the debt service obligations.

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Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, said improving the economy was beyond addressing macroeconomic challenges and requires building a consensus on how to build the country.

“Until we have an alignment of interest to build the political and social consensus, the cycle will continue,” he said.

Speaking on the utilization of available funds, he said 70 percent of the budget focuses on servicing the government and its institutions while the provision of an enabling environment for businesses to thrive is neglected.

“The private sector provides jobs and contribute to the economy, why should policies not be directed at supporting their activities so more jobs can be created?” he said.

Also, Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai said sub-nationals are also suffering significantly, saying many of them are under pressure and are falling behind in fulfilling their obligations.

Speaking on the impact of inflation on the minimum wage, he said ideally the current level of wages and salaries should be quadrupled but the revenue to achieve this is not available.

He flagged subsidy and exchange rate challenges as barriers to revenue and economic growth, noting that an earlier agreed consensus to remove subsidy by state governors, in a meeting with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the CBN and other key policy makers had not been adhered to.

“I think Nigeria’s next president must be willing to take very difficult immediate and urgent decisions that will make the country through three to five years of pain and reverse this trajectory,” he said.

Speaking on issues around insecurity, the governor said Kaduna would have attracted much more investments than it had currently if the security situation was better, but sub-nationals do not control any security apparatus.

Federal government is primarily responsible for security, sub-nationals efforts to have state and community policing has been blocked, we are doing the best we can but the FG should provide the security,”he said.

World Bank’s Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, in a remark said overtime Nigeria has been floating along and riding on the oil price movement and is currently at a critical junction.

“Nigeria has a choice to implement critical macroeconomic and structural reforms that can reduce crisis vulnerabilities and increase growth. Doing so will lift per-capita incomes, sustainably reduce poverty and deliver better life outcomes for many Nigerians,” he said.