The United Nation Population Fund has estimated Nigeria’s population to be 201 million. According to its 2019 State of the World Population report, Nigeria had an average population growth of 2.6% between 2010 and 2019. Africa’s most populous country grew by about 5 million people from 2018 when the UNFPA gave the population as 195.9 million. The country has witnessed a population growth from 54.7 million in 1969 to 105.4 million in 1994 and 201.0 million in 2019. According to the UNFPA, the age distribution of 15-64 years is the highest population composition in the country with 54% of Nigerians falling between the age range. 44% of Nigerians are within the age distribution 0-14 while 32% of the population is between 10 and 24 years and 3% are 65 and above. The low percentage of those within the 65 and above age distribution is not entirely surprising with the life expectancy of Nigeria at a worrying 55 years old, one of the lowest across the world. There was a slight drop in the fertility rate from 2018’s 5.4 births per woman to 5.3 births per woman. It continues the trend of dropping fertility rate over the years from 6.3 in 1994 to 5.3 in 2019. World population grew to 7.7 billion in 2019 while the life expectancy rate is 72 years.

Nigeria’s Consumer Price Index increased by more than 207% between 2009 and 2019 according to an analysis from Nairametrics research. The economic literacy advocacy group took the difference between the CPI in March 2019 and March 2009 and arrived at an inflation rate of 207.4%. The CPI is a price index of a basket of goods and services tracked monthly by the NBS, and the difference between the CPI of one period and a corresponding month in another period is the inflation rate.

The acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has said that 1,071 persons lost their lives in crime-related cases across the country in the first quarter of 2019. Speaking at a meeting of the Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council in Kaduna, Adamu also said that between January and April, at least 685 persons were kidnapped across the country. He said 767 of the persons killed were from the North. The North-West topped the death list with 436; North-Central came second with 250; while the South-South geopolitical zone recorded 130 deaths during the period under review. He added that Zamfara with 203 murder cases topped the national prevalence rate, Kaduna followed closely with 112 reported cases while 90 people were killed in Benue. Most of the murder cases recorded in the North are linked to banditry and communal violence. In relation to banditry, he said, a total of 175 deaths were reported between January and April this year with Zamfara topping the list with 104 reported cases, followed by Katsina with 21 killed by bandits and Sokoto with 19 cases. On kidnappings, the IGP said 546 or 79.8 per cent of the national total were recorded in the three northern geopolitical zones. There were a total of 212 major armed robbery cases were reported nationally within the period under review, with the North having 130 major robbery cases or 59.43 per cent of the national total incident rate.

On 29 April, Sierra Leone and Sahrawi became the 21st and 22nd countries to deposit instruments of ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. The Chairperson of the AUC Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said that the agreement is set to come into force on 30 May. The two countries depositing their instruments meant that the AfCFTA has met the minimum threshold of ratifications required under Article 23 of the AfCFTA Agreement for it to enter into force thirty days after the deposition of the twenty-second instrument made by the Sahrawi Arab Republic.

Commentary

  • Truth be told, nobody is certain about the population of Nigeria. All previous national censuses have been hotly disputed because population plays a role in the way seats in the legislature, and more importantly, oil proceeds are shared. It is interesting that while the National Population Commission and the United Nations estimate the population at over 200million, most FMCG companies plan with a population size closer to 140 million. Currently, there are a little over 30 million unique bank verification numbers, putting the country’s unbanked population at more than 100millon. An interesting sidenote to this game of numbers: opening weekend admissions for the Avengers: Endgame movie in Nigeria was about 105,000, a figure which is more than half of the actual target market pool for cinemas in the country. It does appear that the burgeoning middle class which was much talked about a decade ago is disappearing and even that exodus is as yet unquantified.
  • When it is reported that Nigerians have gotten poorer, this is one of the primary drivers. High inflation has been and remains one of Nigeria’s biggest economic challenges. Income growth has been flat, and the prices of essentials have continued to increase, causing Nigerians to pay more for less from essentially the same income levels. In terms of comparison, the United States CPI change between March 2019 and March 2009 was just 20%. This can be seen in the cost of common items such as the iPhone has remained about the same price range since it debuted in 2010. Nigeria’s new minimum wage of ₦30,000 today was worth less than ₦10,000 in March 2009. The result is that Nigerians remain in an endless cycle of poverty regardless of how hard they work because real income growth has essentially been negative. The number one goal of this administration should be to tackle this.
  • These numbers, coming from the Inspector General, means that the average daily casualty count stood at 12 in Q1, with the daily kidnap toll standing at 8. Considering that the police typically understates casualty figures, the direness of the situation becomes even more alarming. Sections of the country have effectively been ceded to marauders and kidnappers to do as they please with Nigerians, and the government does not appear to understand that this is a grave emergency. The underlying issues that precipitate in this violence are vast tracts of ungoverned spaces coupled with debilitating poverty, two problems that hint at a failure of governance. What is clear is that these marauders will continue to get more emboldened and begin to enter spaces with a more effective governing presence, as seen with the abduction of the father-in-law to the President’s ADC in Katsina. To underscore the point, two Chinese nationals were kidnapped in Ebonyi, a Canadian and a Scot were kidnapped (and released) in Rivers, and this week more than 100 people were taken on the Abuja-Kaduna road, including the chairman of UBEC, who was released after paying ₦60 million ($167,000). These redeemed ransoms will only serve to attract more kidnappings. In the absence of security, any talk of economic development is moot.
  • The AfCFTA has been long-awaited and will hopefully increase intra-African trade from its current 10-12 percent of total trade by African countries. Hitherto unattractive markets due to their population size (e.g. Rwanda) can now attract more investments with the right enabling environment and target exports across the continent. However, to make the goals of the agreement, there needs to be massive investment in infrastructure and transport links between countries so that trade can move seamlessly. Nigeria’s refusal to sign the agreement is very conspicuous. Considering that the country alone accounts for 17 per cent of the continent’s GDP, it remains to be seen how this will impact the agreement. Although the official government position is that they need to consult more before coming to an agreement, the body language does not show any inclination towards joining.