The United Nations (UN) in a report just released on Nigeria’s Common Country Analysis (CCA), has described the country as deeply divided.
According to the report, which was read during a consultative meeting on the formulation of the UN Development Assistance Framework IV (UNDAF IV) for the South-East geo-political zone in Awka, showed Nigeria as a “divided society on the basis of the plurality of ethnic, religious and regional identities that had tended to define the country’s political existence.”
The report observed that, for decades, different segments of Nigeria’s population had, at different times, expressed feelings of marginalisation, of being short-changed, dominated, oppressed, threatened, or even targeted for elimination.
It also painted a gloomy picture for the country as most of the development and social indices in Nigeria recorded much below acceptable standards.
The major challenges facing Nigeria, according to the report, were constraints of economic growth and social development and lack of good governance. The report also noted that “the situation was exacerbated by the existence of systematic accountability challenges at the federal, states and local government levels.”
It said: “Nigeria is one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world, with over 80 million or 64 per cent of her population living below poverty line. Poverty and hunger have remained high in rural areas, remote communities and among female-headed households and these cut across the six geo-political zones, with prevalence ranging from approximately 46.9 per cent in the South-West to 74.3 per cent in North-West and North-East.
“Nigeria’s economy is currently in a recession and it is estimated that government revenues have fallen by as much as 33 per cent, which has further resulted in the contraction of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 0.36 per cent in the first three months of 2016.
“The vulnerable macroeconomic environment in Nigeria is affecting investors’ confidence in the domestic economy.”
According to the report, despite Nigeria’s enormous resources, 37 per cent of children under five years old were stunted and 29 per cent underweight due to malnutrition just as only 10 per cent of children aged six to 23 months were fed appropriately based on recommended infant and young children feeding practices.
The report also revealed widespread cases of violence against women and girls, including physical and sexual assault, adding that 42 per cent of the youths were unemployed, “a situation that had led to poverty, helplessness and despair, thereby exposing them to easy target for crime and terrorism,” while over 10 million children of school age were out of schools with no knowledge and skills.
It also said, “despite the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to a number of protocols on sustainable and renewable environment, the country had, over the decades, failed to protect the environment, ecosystem and natural resources.
“Nigeria faces humanitarian and emergency crises of considerable proportions fueled by a combination of factors including climate change, inter-communal conflicts and violence, insurgency, recurring floods, heavy handed tactics of security forces in combating crime and insurgency. The overall consequence is the situation of systematic and chronic internal displacement that has given rise to different humanitarian crises that include the most egregious and dehumanising human rights abuses.”
It, therefore, recommended that “transforming and diversifying Nigeria’s development paths needed a radical and new approach, especially by investing in people and in a strong more dynamic and inclusive productive informal sector,” just as the agency called for a design and support of joint programmes to address good governance, peace and security.