BudgIT has raised concern at Nigeria’s position for the second time in commitment towards reducing inequality in the country despite persistent advocacy for the Federal Government to invest more in sectors that improve on human development capacity of its people and bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
Nigeria has the unenviable distinction of being at the bottom of the Index for the second year running. Nigeria’s social spending (on health, education and social protection) is shamefully low. As seen in the index, the scale of economic inequality has reached extreme levels as evidenced in the daily struggles of the majority of the population and as well with the recent report that Nigeria recently overtook India as the “poverty capital of the world”.
According to BudgIT, Our insights are drawn from the Commitment to Reduce Inequality Index, the second in the series released by Development Finance International (DFI) and Oxfam which measures the commitment of governments to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. The index is based on a new database of indicators, now covering 157 countries, which measures government action on social spending, tax and labor rights – three areas are found to be critical in reducing the gap. Nigeria was ranked 157th out of 157 which shows that the country is currently spending way too low on key sectors such as health, education and social protection.
Nigeria also ranks very low, 104th, on the progressivity of her taxation policy, a stagnated minimum wage, and consistent abuse of labor rights. The CRI index shows that in the past year, Nigeria has seen an increase in the number of labor rights’ violations. The minimum wage has not increased since 2011, put at 55 cents per day.
On the strength of this, the BudgIT therefore called on the Government to increase its commitments in policy impact and actions by improving efforts on progressive spending, taxation, and workers’ pay and protection as a matter of urgency in order to move more Nigerians out of the poverty line. We affirm that Nigeria needs to invest in its people with an aggressive investment in education, health, access to capital and growth poles that expand youth employment. We also take note that on the World Bank Human Capital Index, Nigeria ranked 152 out of 157 countries.
“Beyond the current social investment programs, President Buhari should forward stronger action in tackling inequality especially systemic long-term investments. We believe this should a major issue towards the 2019 general elections”, it advised.