2,300 under-five children die of malnutrition annually in Nigeria

The World Bank has disclosed that the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty may increase by more than 30 million by 2030 and the country will be home to 25 per cent of the world’s destitute people if the government fails to initiate reforms to revive economic growth and create jobs.

The bank which gave the warning in its 2019 Nigeria Economic Update Report released on Monday, also noted that Nigeria could slide back into recession if crude prices, which currently stands at $61 per barrel, fell by 25 percent to $50 a barrel.

“Economic and demographic projections highlight the urgent need for reform. With population growth (estimated at 2.6 per cent) outpacing economic growth in a context of weak job creation, per capita income is falling. Today, an estimated 100 million Nigerians live on less than $1.90 per day,” the bank said.

“Close to 80 per cent of poor households are in northern Nigeria, while employment creation and income gains have been concentrated on central and southern Nigeria.”

The report said Nigeria’s economy is expected to grow by 2.1 percent in 2020 and 2021, compared to an annual population growth rate of 2.6 percent, an outlook it said “is vulnerable to external and domestic risks, including geopolitical and trade tensions that may affect inflows of private investment.”

The bank therefore called for reforms that would create economic opportunities and reverse the unpleasant trend.

“Nigeria has the opportunity to advance reforms to mitigate these risks amid growing public demand for greater economic opportunities,” it said.

Specifically, the bank called on Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari to increase domestic revenue, remove trade restrictions and improve the predictability of economic policy, while also advising the government to remove expensive fuel subsidies and reduce lending to targeted sectors “that crowd out banks.”

“The cost of inaction is significant. Under a business-as-usual scenario, where Nigeria maintains the current pace of growth and employment levels, by 2030, the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty could increase by more than 30 million,” the bank said.

About 50 per cent of Nigeria’s almost 200 million people live in poverty, according to the World Bank.

Last year, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the highest number of people in extreme poverty.