The Issues

What we are calling for

Nigeria has not been spared from the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, the intensifying insecurity, and the climate crisis. Millions of households are now dealing with the consequences of job losses, shrinking income and elevated food prices. It is estimated that up to 15 million more people have been pushed into extreme poverty as a consequence of the converging crises between 2020 and 2021.

Nigeria’s youthful population could be an asset to drive its economic transformation and end extreme poverty. But poor human capital outcomes stand in the way. In Nigeria, life expectancy at birth is barely over 55 years, the fourth lowest in the world. Similarly, a Nigerian-born child is least likely to survive beyond the age of 5, and those who do will grow up to attain only 36% of the potential productivity attainable with full health and education.

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, ONE partnered with UNICEF’s U-Report to poll over 170,000 Nigerian citizens across every state to find out what issues mattered most to them. The online poll asked citizens about the most important issues they wanted the government to address. The results were clear: more than half of the respondents hoped that the government would address the issue of job creation. This was followed by corruption (14%), education (10%), healthcare (9%), and agriculture (6%). Similarly, a 2020 survey of Nigerian Youth by the USAID suggests that the priorities of young people haven’t changed since the last election, with most of them still demanding better jobs and livelihood.

2023 is the year for Nigerian leaders to rebuild the economy for inclusive growth, resilience and decent jobs for all. In order to lift millions of Nigerians out of extreme poverty, ONE believes it is imperative that the next government take ambitious actions in at least two key areas: transforming the economy for decent jobs, and strengthening the health system to withstand future shocks.

Decent Jobs

Between 2 to 3 million young people will be entering the workforce every year from now till 2030. Creating decent jobs will be key to securing their future and achieving peace and stability. Yet, only a fraction of young people looking for jobs are able to secure decent jobs. The combined unemployment and underemployment rate in Nigeria stood at 56% in 2020. According to Afrobarometer, close to 3 in 10 Nigerians said someone in their household lost a job, business, or primary source of income due to the pandemic. In order to transform the Nigerian economy for decent jobs, the Nigerian government must tackle structural challenges hindering investment, entrepreneurship and private sector development in the country. Specifically, the incoming government must at least:

  1. Address growing insecurity challenges.
  2. Scale up investment in young people and redesign existing empowerment programs for better impact. In doing so, the government must ensure effective monitoring, evaluation, learning and reporting of government programs. For example, the creation of an employment-related observatory to share robust lessons and results.
  3. Implement the energy transition plan (ETP) to combat climate change, create jobs and enable access to clean, affordable and stable energy.
  4. Enable access to the market for all, including agricultural workers who represent half of the workforce by:
    • Promoting private-led out-grower schemes and aggregation centres
    • Reforming Nigeria’s standards and regulatory agencies to ensure the production of quality goods and services
  5. Improve the business environment and simplify administrative processes by
    • Developing and implementing national trade and industrial policies that align with the AfCFTA
    • Putting in place high-priority measures to lower transportation costs and address delays in border and port clearance

Health Systems Strengthening

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed some of the gaps in Nigeria’s healthcare system. While valuable lessons were learnt from Nigeria’s handling of the Ebola outbreak, Polio, and Lassa Fever, the country lacked emergency preparedness for an outbreak of COVID-19’s magnitude. Hospitals were poorly equipped, with inadequate infrastructure and a shortage of qualified healthcare workers. Transforming Nigeria’s health system into one that is modern, efficient, and effective requires ambitious strategies and plans from the next government. 

Specifically, the incoming government must:

  1. Demonstrate strong political will and commitment to the Abuja Declaration by spending at least 10% of their total budget on Health.
  2. Commit to appropriate, efficient, and transparent use of health expenditure to maximize the social benefit of health programs. By improving accountability, state governments can attract additional sources of financing from donor countries, development partners, and the private sector.
  3. Invest in ensuring that Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are ready to provide essential health services. This requires investments in renovating one PHC per ward, equipping the facilities, and creating a system for these facilities to access drugs and health products needed to provide essential health services.
  4. Complement adequate spending with adequate healthcare workers and effective health system governance at the state level.

Citizen-led Agenda on Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

The Health Agenda is a citizen-led ‘health manifesto’ aimed at shaping the health policy direction of Nigeria’s major political parties and their flagbearers in the 2023 general elections. It articulates clear health goals based on national priorities and international benchmarks and identifies strategic policy shifts that should be prioritized by the political class in order to put the country on the path to Universal Health Coverage.