Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy, will hold its national and state elections in February and March 2023, respectively. Nigeria’s forthcoming election, which enthrones the country’s next set of leaders at all levels of government, is critical in determining the path the country would take in years to come.
Nigerians are experiencing a drastically weakened economy, a heightened level of insecurity, power failure, continued strike by educational institutions, etc. The Nigerian public has slid into a heightened level of distrust in its current governments and institutions.
With less than a year to the handover of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, what are the concerning issues Nigeria’s next President would need to address?
Despite Nigeria being the second leading oil exporter in Africa, the country remains one of the poorest nations in the world. In fact, the naira recently fell to a whooping N710/$1 showing the economic tragedy the country is experiencing. A World Bank report released in March 2022 stated that 4 out of 10 Nigerians are living below the poverty line. However, while the Nigerian government might argue that the global economic crisis as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine played a huge role in the economic instability in the country and hence the record high inflation rate of 18.6%, other financial figures such as Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $440.78 (2021) say otherwise.
Also, Nigeria’s debt profile of N41.6 trillion or $100.1 billion shows the devastating state of the economy. Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Dr Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, also recently disclosed that the country spent 118% or N1.94 trillion of the revenue generated servicing its debt. Other economic issues include the aviation sector’s constant scramble for aviation fuel, increased prices of petrol and a devaluation of naira.
Terrorism, banditry, jail breaks, herdsmen attacks, and many more social crimes have absolutely ridiculed Nigeria’s security situation in the last few years. Boko Haram terrorist group continue to wreak havoc on the lives and properties of residents in the northern part of Nigeria. Herdsmen are maliciously killing farmers and destroying their livelihood in the north and some parts of the south. Unknown gunmen continue to impose a sit-at-home order every Monday in the south-eastern region of the country.
To name a few security crises, at the start of the month of June, gunmen suspected to be members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) killed 40 Christian worshippers including women and children at St Francis Catholic Church Owo, Ondo State. But fresh on the minds of Nigerians is the attack of Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre, Abuja, which set free 600 inmates including 15 high profile Boko Haram leaders who reports say spearheaded the attack of Abuja-Kaduna train at Katari, Kaduna. Although Nigerian security forces have recaptured a number of the escapees, a good number of them are at large.
Security challenges experienced on a daily basis in Nigeria drives fear into the heart of the citizens of the country. This inspired the lawmakers in opposition parties to give President Muhammadu Buhari a six weeks ultimatum to fix the country’s insecurity or face impeachment proceedings.
Nigeria’s power grid recently collapsed for the seventh time in 2022, causing blackouts in many parts of the country. Nigeria’s power grid failure has become a worrisome concern for citizens at a time when the price of fuel recently increased from N145 per litre at the start of the year to N179 per litre. The reoccurring collapse has hit Nigerian businesses the hardest, with the cost of running a business increasing with the rising economic challenges.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other university unions have been on strike for months following the failure of the federal government to honour its agreement with the union. ASUU’s demands include the payment of agreed wages, payment for the revitalization of public universities, adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a preferred payment option, etc. The disagreement between ASUU and the federal government has been a reoccurring issue for many years. The incumbent president would have to present a lasting solution to end this menace.