Beyond economic growth, a country needs to pay close attention to the welfare of its citizens being a major component of economic development. While Nigeria desires high and sustainable growth, the country also plans for inclusive growth especially as the level of poverty is quite high. Many policies, programmes and interventions have been directed at improving citizens’ welfare in Nigeria. They include core poverty alleviation programmes through established institutions, indirect activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) whose operations affect citizens’ welfare, implementation of international programmes with poverty reduction components and a special focus on poverty in national development plans and strategies, including other direct intervention programmes.
Specifically, the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) was introduced early in 2000 to address the problems of rising unemployment and a crime wave, particularly among youths; in 2001, the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) was then introduced for the eradication of absolute poverty in Nigeria. This was complemented by the National Poverty Eradication Council (NAPEC) to coordinate the poverty-reduction-related activities of all the relevant MDAs.
The Federal government launched the Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) programme in 2011 to empower the Nigerian youths by providing grants to small business owners thereby creating young entrepreneurs in the country. Moreover, following the increase in fuel price announced in January 2012 and the attendant agitations, the government launched the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) in February 2012 intending to reinvest subsidies savings to ameliorate the impact of the subsidy removal, especially among the vulnerable groups and invest in critical infrastructure.
The National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) was launched in 2003 and served as Nigeria’s homegrown poverty reduction strategy. Other Development Plans and Agenda also have detailed and dedicated sections for reducing poverty and improving citizens’ welfare. These include the Seven-point Agenda (2007), Vision 20:2020 (2010), Transformation Agenda (2011), Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017) and National Development Plan (2021).
For instance, the National Development Plan (2021-2025) has as one of its objectives to take 35 million citizens out of poverty by 2025. This speaks to the President’s promise in June 2019 of lifting 100 million Nigerian out of poverty in 10 years. The Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) in 2021 also developed the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) as a document to help in achieving the President’s aspiration of drastic poverty reduction.
These are many other programmes, implemented since 2015, aimed at addressing various poverty-related problems. These include job creation and youth employment (N-Power), Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF), Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP). All these have assisted in addressing some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those of Goals 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 4 (Quality Education) and 10 (Reduced Poverty).
Nigeria also pays attention to the rights of children, women and other vulnerable groups. The Child Rights Act (2003) guarantees the rights of all children in Nigeria and protects them against child marriage, betrothal, child labour, sexual abuse, exploitation, trafficking and prostitution. In addition, the National Gender Policy was adopted in 2006 to make the government proactive in its commitment to addressing problems affecting women and mainstream women’s issues in the formulation and implementation of its policies and programmes. To protect the rights of people with disabilities (PWDs), Nigeria ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2007. In 2019, the government also enacted the Discrimination Against People with Disabilities Act and established the National Commission for PWDs to facilitate access to housing, health and education. Moreover, Nigeria is a signatory to many relevant treaties and conventions protecting the rights of children, women and PWDs.
Moreover, consumer spending plays a significant role as a major driver of an economy and citizens’ welfare. Various economic indicators have been seen to influence consumer spending and overall economic activity; including the rate of inflation, exchange rate, unemployment rate, interest rate, the general level of income in the country, access to credit, level of education, age and the existence of enabling laws protecting consumers, among others.
The Consumer Protection Council commenced operation in 1999 and later under the Consumer Protection Council Act, Cap 25, 2004, to defend the interests of consumers concerning all goods and services. It was later transformed into the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) with higher responsibility under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) of 2018 to, among others, develop and promote fair, efficient and competitive markets in the Nigerian economy, facilitate the access by all citizens to safe products, and secure the protection of rights for all consumers in Nigeria.
All these efforts on poverty reduction and consumer protection notwithstanding, the level of poverty and threats to consumers are still high in Nigeria. The Multidimensional Poverty Index results released in 2022 showed that 63% of the citizens are multi-dimensionally poor, even with a particular State having 91% of its citizens as poor. Unemployment figures are also very high; coupled with food insecurity problems, high inflation and exchange rates, the welfare level of Nigerian citizens is constrained.
The relevant section of the book, “Nigeria in Figures”, therefore, presents the trend and performance of indicators of citizens’ livelihood and welfare in the country. These include key indicators such as labour force, unemployment, underemployment and poverty rates. Also examined is information on the employer and sector of main wage activity for the citizens as well as the performance of the country on the global food security index and global hunger index.