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Concerns Over Nigeria’s GDP Growth and Escalating Economic Hardship

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As Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) recorded a growth rate of 3.46% in the fourth quarter of 2023, experts are questioning the disconnect between this economic indicator and the prevailing economic hardship experienced by the country’s citizens.

The latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics indicates that Nigeria’s economy expanded by 3.46% year-on-year in real terms during Q4 2023. This growth rate, although lower than the 3.52% seen in Q4 2022, surpasses the 2.54% growth recorded in Q3 2023.

Essentially, this growth means that the total value of all goods and services produced within Nigeria amounted to N21.77 trillion in the reference period.

Despite the positive GDP figures, ordinary Nigerians are yet to benefit from the supposed economic upturn, as they continue to grapple with the harsh realities of skyrocketing inflation and the high cost of living.

While the official GDP numbers may suggest a recovering economy under President Bola Tinubu, the ground reality paints a starkly different picture, with citizens in Lagos, Kano, and Anambra states feeling the brunt of economic hardship.

The inflation rate in Nigeria soared to a record high of 29.90% in January, exacerbated by a staggering 35.42% food inflation rate, further eroding the purchasing power of the populace.

Consequently, residents in states like Niger, Kano, Kogi, Oyo, and Lagos took to the streets to protest against the worsening economic conditions.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, representing government workers, is set to stage nationwide protests on February 27 and 28 in response to the escalating hardship faced by Nigerians.

In an interview with NewsNow, Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu, a former president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, pointed out the disparity between Nigeria’s 3.46% GDP growth and the lived experiences of its citizens, citing a multitude of negative factors hindering the country’s economic progress.

Similarly, Prof Godwin Oyedokun from Lead City University identified rising inequality, corruption, poor governance, overreliance on oil, and inadequate infrastructure as key reasons why Nigeria’s GDP growth has not translated into tangible economic benefits for its people.

He emphasized the need to address these underlying issues to foster inclusive and sustainable economic development in the country.

Mr Idakolo Gbolade, the CEO of SD & D Capital Management, underscored the importance of aggressive implementation of government policies in sectors like agriculture, oil and gas, manufacturing, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for the GDP growth to translate into real economic progress.

He criticized the slow pace of agricultural reforms promised by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration and stressed the significance of stimulating economic activity and internal food security to actualize the benefits of economic growth for Nigerians.

Gbolade called for prompt action on providing loans to the manufacturing sector and SMEs to drive economic growth and development in the country.

Overall, the discussion among experts points to the urgent need for Nigeria to address systemic challenges and implement targeted policies to ensure that GDP growth translates into tangible benefits for its populace.

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