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Economic downturn – just a ruse?

Nigeria – like every other country  – is trying to work out the real impact of the global downturn.  Everyone’s trying to predict how bad it is going to get. On the flight to Abuja I chat to a tax adviser working for the World Bank. As a Nigerian he was pretty frustrated that only 10% of Nigerian finances come from tax.  The currency is really struggling as it is a commodity-dependent country and mining investment is being scaled back as exports fall.

The financial community are nervous about what the downturn could mean.  As I drive to the office I start to think about what this means for ordinary people? It’s a harsh reality.

Colleagues tell me that prices of household items and foods have increased and that may raise the number of malnourished children, as families may be forced to reduce the quantity and variety of food bought at market. This is very frightening as malnutrition is the leading single cause of child death. There are now an estimated 44 million more undernourished people in the world because of the global food price crisis. As food prices go up people fear for the health of their families and friends.

On arrival in Abuja I read an exclusive interview in The Tide newspaper with shipping magnate Chief Elochukwu who describes the crisis as a ruse.   He claims Nigerian companies are still posting huge profits.   The Nigerian Guardian newspaper says that the manufacturing sector of jobs lost 20 per cent in the last 6 months. I am then handed a brief from the Save the Children team on arrival. Whatever the depth of the crisis, the reality here is that the eighth largest oil producer in the world has the second largest number of newborns and children dying every year, next to India.  This is a huge injustice

and means that 1 in 10 children dying in the world today die in Nigeria.

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