Nigerians more ‘miserable’ than African peers

Nigeria may be the largest economy on the African continent, but the average Nigerian is more miserable than the average citizens of other countries that rank as top 10 economies in Africa, according to Misery Index.

The Misery Index is calculated by adding a country’s inflation and unemployment rates, and for Nigeria, the misery index at 50.6 percent towers far and above every other country, even three times higher than most.

The misery index is an economic indicator that helps to determine the economic well-being of an average citizen. It is a relationship between unemployment and the inflation rate in an economy. The higher the index, the more misery felt by average citizens, and the lower the index, the less the misery they feel.
Surely, with higher unemployment rates accompanied by equally high inflation, citizens are bound to feel miserable. They have no jobs and cannot afford to buy more with the little money they have.

“Nigeria’s misery index is higher compared with its peers in the continent because of high inflation and the worsening level of unemployment. A higher misery index simply means average Nigerians are becoming poorer in real terms compared with residents in other African countries,” said Moses Ojo, chief economist/head, Investment Research, Pan African Capital Holdings Limited.

Nigeria’s high inflation and unemployment rate is reflective of this economic reality.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country’s inflation, which measures the rate of increase of commodity prices, quickened to a 35-month high at 17.3 percent in February 2021, while unemployment is at a record high of 33.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Read Also: Nigeria’s inflation rate quickens to 48-month high in February

The misery index for the top 10 economies in Africa, from most miserable to least miserable ranks as follows: Nigeria (50.6%), South Africa (35.7%), Angola (32.7%), Ghana (14.8%), Kenya (13%), Tanzania (12.9%), Algeria (12.8%), Egypt (12.1%), Morocco (12%), and Ethiopia (6.9%).

Ayodeji Ebo, a Lagos based economist, notes that Nigeria’s ranking further buttresses the insecurity problems the country is currently facing.

“When you officially have almost 12.2 million people who are not working, then they will engage in other things to survive. And even the positive growth that we experienced in Q4 2020, is nothing to be excited about because it really is not inclusive,” Ebo says.

Four years ago, Abimbola Saheed, a family man with two children, earned N100,000 from the food-producing company where he worked as a supervisor.
Today, his salary has been cut by half, making him struggle in taking care of his family. “Things have been really tough for me and my family, most times I just feel depressed because I can’t take good care of my family,” he says.

According to a recent survey by the NBS, eight out of every 10 Nigerian households are raising an alarm over rising food prices, with 58 percent reducing their food consumption between July and December last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic struck last year, Nigeria was wallowing in multidimensional poverty. Data from the World Poverty Clock revealed that six people fall into extreme poverty in Nigeria every minute. More so, a 2018 report by the Brookings Institution situated the country as the poverty capital of the world with 87 million people or roughly 40 percent of Nigeria’s 200 million population living below $1.9 a day.

Apart from the country now being the most miserable of its African peers, it was among the top 10 miserable countries with a misery index of 36.8 in 2019, according to Steve Hanke’s annual misery index.

Tajudeen Ibrahim, head of research/strategy at Chapel Hill Denham, believes Nigeria needs more restructured reforms since the problems that are driving the misery are structural ones.

“The natural intonation that we usually have in this country is that the government should provide jobs, but the best thing for them to do is to create an enabling environment by investing in infrastructure such as electricity, rail, etc.,” Tajudeen states.

e adds that investing in rail will help to reduce the transportation cost of transporting food produce from the farms to the markets, which will invariably make food prices cheaper.

Shortly after he was sworn in for a second term in office in 2019,
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari promised to create jobs that would lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

“This administration has laid a foundation of taking bold steps in transforming our country and delivering our people from the shackles of poverty,” Buhari said at the inaugural June 12 Democracy Day celebration in Abuja.

Two years after, the promise of empowering millions of Nigerians is fading, with the pandemic further worsening the livelihood of the country’s already poor citizens.

Data sources in calculating the misery index were aggregated from sources including Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics, CEIC, a global database, Knoema data, Take-profit, a financial and analytical web portal, and Trading Economics.

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