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FG can avert protests over reforms–Nextier

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By Abraham Adekunle

Policy adviser urges Tinubu to check worsening unemployment.

Barely two months into the administration of Bola Tinubu, the economic situation of the common man has worsened. It started with the removal of the subsidy on fuel, a policy which was assented to by former President Buhari and which Tinubu implemented as his first act of office. The result of this is that the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) rose from N187 to N517. Currently, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) hiked the price to N617, with some petrol stations in some states selling it as high as N700 per liter.

To cushion the effects of this policy, the Federal Government earmarked N500 billion to be shared to poor households at the rate of N8,000 per household for six months. There was consistent outcry against this mode of palliative. Social media users especially made fun of the purchasing power of such an amount and the fact that it was meant for an entire household for a whole month. As the price of petrol has tripled, so has the cost of transportation. Many have now taken to trekking to their destination to survive the economic downturn.

Nextier urges Tinubu to ensure palliative gets to the most vulnerable.

Given this situation, renown public policy adviser, Nextier, has advised it on ways to avert the disenchantment from snowballing into major national crisis or mass protests. Researchers at Nextier in a new report over the weekend recalled its earlier analysis linking worsening poverty to increased insecurity, with the question, “Would the Worsening Poverty Increase Insecurity in Nigeria?” They stated that such a scenario is now happening in the form of protests and violence in Kenya, which resulted over the rising costs of living.

Tinubu has been advised by Nextier to quickly check unemployment and dwindling productivity. Nigeria unemployment statistics is one of the worst in Africa right now. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country’s unemployment rate has exceeded 40 percent with a majority of these being youth unemployment. Nextier also urged the president to ensure that the N500 billion set aside for subsidy removal cash-transfer palliative reaches the most vulnerable households for maximum impact. These households are majorly in the northern regions of the country.

Experts recommend that FG prioritize fiscal and monetary policies.

According to Nextier, the present economic reforms, including the removal of fuel subsidy, rise in electricity tariff rates and increase in taxes, have caused financial pressure for millions of Nigerians. These have generated great confusion and misery across the country, especially in the informal sector, which employs most people. Thus, with the economic instability and the unavailability of cushioning effects, it remains a speculation as to where the breaking point lies. There have been calls, especially on social media, for protests against the inflation.

Because of this, Nextier experts therefore recommended that the Nigerian government should prioritize addressing how fiscal and monetary policies affect employment, prices and productivity to reduce the number of people pushed below the poverty line. By reducing aggravated poverty, there is a reduced tendency for resorting to violence. However, beyond the N500-billion palliative that the National Assembly has approved, the government should look at investing in social and public facilities like urban mass transits, primary healthcare driven drugs provision scheme, agro-communities’ road and transportation system and a searchlight on the entire marketing, pricing and distribution of petroleum products in Nigeria.

Non-monetary and sustainable measures needed to avoid Kenya-like events.

Meanwhile, there is a need to introduce other non-monetary and sustainable measures for cushioning the current economic pressures in the country. This is to avoid what happened in Kenya to happen in Nigeria. Nextier experts supported their points by saying that the disorder in Kenya originated from mass opposition-led demonstrations majorly organized by the Azimio Coalition premised on disputed elections and the high cost of living. As Nigeria is also polarized and heavily opposition-prone, one cannot rule out the possibility of violent protests breaking out if conditions worsen.

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