The United Kingdom Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May, ahead of her visit to Nigeria today (Wednesday) has decried the situation in Nigeria where only some individuals enjoy the fruits of the country’s “resurgent economy.”
May, who lamented that 87 million Nigerians live below $1.90 a day, described one of the world’s richest oil producing countries and Africa’s most populous nation as a “home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world.”
The grim description of Nigeria is coming just as the country is still ruing the alleged President of the United State, Donald Trump’s description of the country’s leader, Muhammadu Buhari as a lifeless president.
She stated this on Tuesday in Cape Town, South Africa, where she also paid tributes to two late great Africans; former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and an erstwhile secretary of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who passed on this month.
“The life stories of these two great men encapsulate the ebbs and flows of history. They demonstrate just how much can be achieved over the course of a lifetime. But also that progress can never be taken for granted – the fight to secure our gains is constant.
“Mandela was born in 1918 with the world on the brink of peace from a war that was meant to end all wars. But when Annan was born just 20 years later, those dreams of a lasting peace were about to be shattered once again, claiming millions of lives, including many from this continent.
“It was in the aftermath of this devastation that the United Nations, the organisation that half a century later Annan would go on to lead, was founded. And despite false starts and mistakes along the way, global institutions and co-operation established in this period have delivered great gains for development.
“It was at the same time, that independence movements of a generation of new nations took on a renewed urgency. People across the world won the right to self-determination, constitutions were written and countries were born,” she said.
The UK Prime Minister then spoke on free markets and trade saying that it has been the greatest agent of collective human progress the world has ever seen and that countries that had successfully embraced properly regulated market economies now experience increase in life expectancy and a fallen infant mortality.
She added, “Absolute poverty has shrunk and disposable income grown. Access to education has widened, and rates of illiteracy plummeted. And innovators have developed technology that transformed lives.”
May said that wars and state-based conflicts had declined but have been replaced by new threats, noting that terrorists had killed around 20,000 people in Africa in the past five years.
While also saying that Africa had made remarkable progress, May said, “In 2018, five of the world’s fastest-growing economies are African. The continent’s total GDP could well double between 2015 and 2030. By 2050, a quarter of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s consumers will live here.”
On some of the African countries making progress she said, “From the Western Cape to the Mediterranean come stories of increasing stability, growth, innovation and hope. South Africa, for so long blighted by the evils of Apartheid, is free, democratic, and home to one of the continent’s largest economies.
“In Cote D’Ivoire, United Nations peacekeepers have gone home and GDP is growing three times faster than in Europe. And Ethiopia, for a generation of British people often associated only with famine, is fast becoming an industrialised nation, creating a huge number of jobs and establishing itself as a global destination for investment.”
Moreover, May regretted that the economic prosperity was not uniform around the world as well as emergent democracies and growing economies.
“Africa is home to the majority of the world’s fragile states and a quarter of the world’s displaced people.
“Extremist groups such as Boko Haram and al-Shabab are killing thousands. Africa’s ocean economy, three times the size of its landmass, is under threat from plastic waste and other pollution. Most of the world’s poorest people are Africans and increasing wealth has brought rising inequality, both between and within nations,” she lamented.
On the inequality in Africa, Prime Minister May citing Nigeria as an example described it as a country “thriving, with many individuals enjoying the fruits of a resurgent economy. Yet 87 million Nigerians live on less than $1.90 a day, making it home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world.
“Achieving not just growth but inclusive growth is a challenge faced by governments in the UK, Europe, North America and beyond. And as African economies become more successful, it is an issue that is being confronted here too.”
According to her, in the years ahead, demographic change would present further economic challenges and opportunities for Africa.
~Nigeria Youth Forum