The year 2020 has been very eventful. It began with the assassination of a senior military figure of a sovereign nation from that point, like a good action movie, 2020 never quite let up. From a pandemic, global recession, record-breaking bushfires on two continents, locust infestation and many more, 2020 changed the world in ways that will be with us for years to come.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a significant part of these changes, reshaping the politics, economy and healthcare of every country. It was a key factor in the just-concluded US elections, and its economic impact was widely felt, as countries began to adjust their economic forecast for the year. In Nigeria, the virus claimed the lives of significant political actors, the most prominent of which was President Buhari’s powerful Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, altering the power structures around the highest political office in the land.
The Federal Government announced significant changes to its 2020 budget as measures to contain the effect of the coronavirus on the country’s economy, implementing a 50% cut in revenue from privatisation proceeds, a cut in crude oil benchmark price from $57 down to $30, a reduction in the capital budget by 20 percent, and 25 percent cut in recurrent expenditures. Also, annual inflation rose for the sixth straight month to a near two-year high, as the impact of the country’s closed borders continued to be felt, the highest inflation rate since April 2018. More to this, the country’s debt profile continues to increase as it stood at ₦28.63 trillion as of Q1 2020, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). External debt stood at ₦9.99 trillion (34.89%) while ₦18.64 trillion or 65.11% was domestic debt. The country officially entered its second recession in the Buhari administration this year.
On the security front, banditry, kidnapping and terror attacks continue to plague the country. From bandit attacks in the North West to Boko Haram and ISWAP attacks in the North East, kidnapping in the South-South and the Middle Belt, continuing pastoralist attacks in different regions of the country and piracy off the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria is in a dire state, forcing its sub-units, like the South West, to develop its own security outfit.
However, beyond the pandemic, the most significant event for Nigeria was the #ENDSARS protests and the aftermath of the protests. In what could be best described as an awakening, young Nigerians took to the streets of various cities, to protest against police brutality. The aftermath of these protests included raids into warehouses where COVID-19 palliatives were hidden and, of course, what has now been referred to as the Lekki Massacre.
Looking into 2021, the Federal Government would have to address the key issues like the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike, which has seen a suspension of academic activities in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions for over seven months; a resumption of cross-border economic activities; spiralling food inflation and insecurity.
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