The UN has described 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.”
This was made known to the public 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. The report noted 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.
The report also painted a gloomy picture for the country as most of the development and social indices in Nigeria recorded much below acceptable standards. It noted that the major challenges facing Nigeria were constraints of economic growth and social development and lack of good governance.
Part of the report read: “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.” The report also revealed widespread cases of violence against women and girls, including physical and sexual assault, even as it noted that 42 per cent of Nigerian youths were unemployed.
“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,” the report stated. The report however noted that transforming and diversifying Nigeria’s development paths needed a radical and new approach. It recommended investing in people and in a strong more dynamic and inclusive productive informal sector.
Last week, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator, Toby Lanzer rated the growing humanitarian crisis in Borno as being at level with that of war-torn regions across the world.
Lanzer gave the sad rating during a visit to Bama, the largest Borno town to come under the siege of the Islamist militant sect, Boko Haram. “Having worked in Darfur, Chechnya, and South Sudan, this is about as bad as it gets,” Lanzer was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund has warned that if timely aid is not availed, 49,000 children will lose their lives in Nigeria’s North-east region.