Reducing Inequalities in Nigeria by 2030: SDG Challenges and Way Forward

“Nigeria cannot afford to fail. One in every five African is Nigerian, Nigeria needs to succeed if Africa is to succeed and if Nigeria fails, the world is in trouble” – Tony Blair 2002


Nigeria has a shared broad role in shaping out Agenda 2030, its explosive population makes it even more imperative that Nigeria meets a certain milestone by 2030. But presently, is the country’s national and regional development plans aligned with meeting Agenda 2030? Will Nigeria achieve a fair amount of progress by 2030?

In theory, Nigeria’s commitment to the SDGs is sensible, however, in practice, there is little or no evidence to support the notion that the government is serious about achieving these goals. By all indications, there is no reason to believe that Nigeria will make any progress on the SDG. The Oxfam International Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI, 2018) ranks Nigeria 157 of 188 countries in the world. In accessing the commitment to reduce vulnerabilities, this report found no indicators of positive efforts by the government to mitigate the growing risk.


All of these point to a regression in progress. For example, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2017 data shows that unemployment rose from 14.2% to 18.8% in 2017, the number of out-of-school children increased from 10.5 million to 13.2 million between 2015 to 2017. In February 2018, the World Poverty Clock pronounced Nigeria the new global headquarter of absolute poverty, overtaking India. This report proposes that Nigeria whose total population is 180 million has 86.9 million persons living in abject poverty. Clearly in Nigeria poverty is rising and rising poverty is often an indication of increasing inequalities.

Inequalities in income, opportunities, and redistribution of national wealth are in problematic condition and are on the increase globally and in Nigeria, it is getting worse. Despite the impressive economic growth of the last decade, Nigeria has been unable to structure policies and governance to lift more people and keep them out of poverty. Rather, the reverse is the case as new poverty is emerging; more middle-class population are slipping into relative poverty, more relatively poor people are dropping in the abject poverty margin.

The socio-economic inequality is fundamental as a result of unequal distribution of socio-economic resources or capital. Howbeit, thorough observations of specific laws and policies what becomes apparent is that ‘anti-poor’ policies such as rapid rates forced and illegal evictions and the attacks on informal livelihood could have possible links to indicators of SDG 1,2,3,4,6, 8,10,11 and 16. For example, on declining rate of school enrollment and attendance, homelessness induced by forced displacement would have a direct impact on education indicator.

Besides socioeconomic inequality, political, socio-class and gender-specific inequality are determinant factors in Nigeria’s chances at making progress in the SDG. For instance, the most excluded and economically disadvantaged section of the society generally marginalized in the political system and this leads to such group being chronically under-represented. In this class are the poor, women, minority ethnic groups and children. Baring these challenges in mind, Nigeria’s ratification of Agenda 2030 requires a holistic approach as all of the SDG goals are interconnected and feed off each other. For instance, homelessness and bans on informal livelihood negatively impact school attendance.


In conclusion, due to the fragile nature of the conditions in Nigeria, my recommendation is for the government to hands off sanctions, bans, avoidable displacement and create a system to regulate informality of all types and support the processes to get more people to generate their own income. Why? Because, when things are really bad, as bad as things are in Nigeria, the worse thing the government can do is witch-hunt it’s people. And the best thing it can do is free-markets and open cities to allow as many people as possible create their own income.

The idea that the government must interfere to make the country or cities attractive to Foreign Investors is exactly the reason why things got out of hand. What the government must understand is that no investment comes into Nigeria because of beautification or the ease to do business, investment comes because of its population, hence, policies cannot afford to kill the people as development is fundamentally about the people.

More critical, is the need for the government to view all of the SDG goals as a human right. This perspective is crucial because seeing housing as a human right will force the government and vested interest to hands off forced displacement of vulnerable people until structural ways to resolving the housing deficit are achieved.

I am lending support to end forced evictions in Nigeria by supporting the #AntiForcedEviction bill, please take a minute of your time to sign this petition in support of the bill here 

Thank you in advance!

About rebeccaidd

Development expert, exploring inequality research in Nigeria! Passionate about public policy! Follow me on twitter @enobong
This entry was posted in Africa, Development and Economic growth, Education, Governance, Nigeria, Poverty, Sustainable Development Goals and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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