Category: Indepth Report


“During the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, I sent my wife away to her father’s house because I had nothing to give her. I lost my source of daily living because of the COVID lockdown. I even contemplated joining crime due to the financial pressure I was under. I had two options on my mind, to go to the streets and rob or to start begging.”

This was the reality of Shagari Hussaini, a Keke Napep driver who resides in Zaria City, Kaduna State Nigeria. Many people across Nigeria were affected by the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The changes in their lives have remained the same and only a few have been able to get their lives back. The national rate of poverty as shown by the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows an increase of 8.7% points from a base of 43.5%, which equates to 17 million more people falling below the poverty line in 2020.

Shagari was hit by the impact of COVID-19 and it changed his life in a way he didn’t expect. He had to make difficult decisions to help him cope with his situation. One of the hard decisions he had to make was to send his wife away, back to her father’s house for the lack of food to eat in his house. He had lost his source of income with the lockdown and therefore had no means to cater to his young family. He can be seen as one of the 64.1 Poorest Nigerians who depend on their daily work to make a living. According to the Covid-19 Impact Monitoring Report, April 2021, only 20.9% of this group of the poorest, depend on their family members as their source of money, while 5.6% depend on their spouses for money for their daily living. Shagari probably made up the number of those who could not rely on his spouse nor family members for such support and had to send her back to her father’s house. 

Apart from sending his wife away, Shagari also contemplated going into crime as an option to survive. He also sent away all his dependants due to the economic hardship that came with the pandemic. He shares his full experience in a podcast with Click Naija. Shagari wishes that the government would provide more jobs so that the lingering impact of the COVID-19 lockdown can be reduced.

Shagari Hussaini Interview

In Kaduna State Nigeria, two major occurrences that have impacted the lives of citizens in the past 2 years are COVID-19 and Insecurity. The impact of COVID-19 for many citizens is mainly economic as it affected their source of livelihood. These problems have lingered and have been increased even further by insecurity. Those in the private and the informal sectors were affected as well. The measure of the impact may differ depending on the sector of the society, but for the artisans on the streets who depend on their handwork daily to make a living, the impact was almost total as many of them lost almost everything. 

To cushion the effect of the pandemic, the Kaduna State government put out interventions at different levels. The Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KADIRS) introduced Covid-19 tax incentives to cushion the effects of the pandemic on taxpayers in 2020. In addition to other palliatives that it had earlier rolled out.

A statement issued by the Executive Secretary of KADIRS, Dr. Zaid Abubakar, listed the new incentives to include ‘’extension of the deadline for filing tax returns, waiver of penalties and interest for late filing of returns, and tax rebate.’’

The Kaduna State Government is granting the incentives in accordance with Sections 95 (1) and 127 of the Kaduna State Tax (Codification and Consolidation) Law, 2016.

Dr. Zaid Abubakar, Executive Secretary, KADRIS

Dr. Abubakar also said that Kaduna taxpayers will be given ‘’ grace periods for payment of consumption tax by the entertainment and hospitality sector, PAYE by private schools and persons subject to presumptive tax.’’

For Hussaini, who may not be on the list of the beneficiaries of these tax waivers, the physical palliatives which were provided was an action that helped him stabilize mentally and also helped him to bring back his wife whom he had sent away due to the hardship of the pandemic. Hussaini testified that he had second thoughts as to going into crime because one of his bosses from the market, remembered to give him palliatives. In Kaduna State, COVID State Task Force was instituted and they led the management of logistics for the distribution of the CACOVID palliative which was carried out LGA by LGA, led by senior members of Kaduna State Government (KSDG) and the LGA team.

In the wake of the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, the Kaduna State Government was one of the first in Nigeria to take precautionary actions to implement and enforce the protocols of COVID-19 to ensure the safety of lives. In trying to enforce the COVID-19 protocols, officials were commissioned to carry out the actual enforcement at different levels. This gave Kaduna State a good ranking in terms of enforcement of these protocols. 

However, since the lockdown was relaxed, some citizens still feel the impact of the pandemic beyond the lockdown due to other factors that frustrate their daily hustle for daily bread, such as consistent rise in food prices, unemployment, and tussles with these law enforcement officials on the roads.

As a driver who tries to make his money daily, Shagari Hussaini specifically complained bitterly about the daily tussles he faces with some law enforcement officials from the Kaduna State Traffic Law Enforcement Agency, KASTELIA whom he said harass the road users in the course of carrying out their duties. For him, this is a hindrance to his daily effort to make ends meet. He said the KASTELIA and the police joined forces to ensure that people complied with the COVID-19 protocols during the lockdown. But since after the lockdown, he still feels hindered by some of their activities which he thinks is beyond their actual assignment.

He wishes the government would put in place other authorities to checkmate their activities. Hussaini thinks that the government should introduce daily payment from transport businessmen like himself which would give them access to work for the day, rather than have the KASTELIA on the road extorting them of their hard-earned money. The Kaduna State House of Assembly had before the pandemic urged the management of the Law Enforcement Agency KASTELIA, to call its marshals to order and stop harassing road users while discharging their duties. Husaini thinks that such a call needs to be made again. He also called on the Kaduna State government to improve on employment of young people to reduce the impact of the pandemic and dissuade them from considering or going into crime.

The recovery from the economic impact is slow for some people as they deal with these challenges daily. In June 2021, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revealed that though the Nigerian economy has started to gradually recover from the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the employment level continues to fall dramatically, and with other socio-economic indicators, far below pre-pandemic levels. This indicates that many people who fell below the poverty line during the pandemic never recovered from it. 

Another factor that has made the challenges of COVID linger is the insecurity situation. But, despite the hardship that COVID presented some people feel those challenges were easier to deal with than that of insecurity. Attahiru Bafarawa, is a Taxi driver who lives in Anguwan Mahauta in Zaria Local Government of Kaduna State. He thinks that the insecurity came to prolong some of the problems of COVID and heighten the challenges. For him, the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing. He says that the impact has reduced but just a little because people keep referring to COVID as the reason for the increased prices of their goods. According to the Selected Food Price Watch, in July 2021, rice, oil, and yam each were sold in Kaduna State, for N338, N515, and N193 respectively per KG and liter as of January 2020. As of July 2021, each of those commodities went for N411, N739, and N308 respectively.

“With COVID you were safe when you were in your house on lockdown. But with the insecurity situation, even if you are in your home, you could be picked up. If you were outside you could still be picked up by bandits or kidnappers.”

Attahitu Bafarawa, Taxi Driver, Kaduna State

Attahiru says the insecurity only added fears to the existing problems that came with COVID. He thinks that the government needs to do more in calling out and punishing those caught to be involved in the crimes that concern insecurity to serve as a deterrent to others who may be considering the way of crime as an option. He shares his views with Click Naija in a podcast interview.

Attahiru Bafarawa Interview

Binta Adamu is a seamstress in Zaria, Kaduna State and she takes a flashback at her most challenging moment during the heat of the COVID-19 lockdown.

“As a mother, it was not easy for me to stand by and watch my son cry in pain from sickness, with no place to access medical care and no way to get food to feed my other children. I felt very bad.”

Binta Adamu, A Seamstress in Zaria City, Kaduna State Nigeria.

She says it is an experience she never wishes to have again. She has since begun her business again and is grateful to have her source of livelihood back. However, she says insecurity has not fully allowed her to recover from the challenges that COVID caused.

Binta Adamu at her work place in Zaria City

Binta Adamu feels that the security personnel need to be well equipped to have the confidence to fight back the bandits. According to Binta, ‘in the end, it is the masses who are at the receiving end of the impact of either COVID or Insecurity.’

World Bank in its Nigeria Development Update (NDU) shows that the pandemic has disproportionately affected the poor and most vulnerable people, and without more deliberate measures to mitigate the impact of the crisis, the number of poor could increase by 15 to 20 million by 2022. Every state of Nigeria has a proportion to contribute to increasing or help to reduce this number through deliberate measures that actually affect the poor and vulnerable.

Amongst the recommendations made were enhancing macroeconomic management to boost investor confidence, safeguarding and mobilizing revenues, supporting economic activity, access to basic services, and providing relief for poor and vulnerable communities. These are actual realities and solutions to these problems would have a direct and positive impact on the lives of the likes of Hussaini, Attahiru, and Binta.

Story: Ehizogie Ohiani


The Price for a Child Bride In Nigeria

In 2020, where the world is taking steps and making advancements towards equality and empowering women and girls, Nigeria, stands with the largest number of child brides in West and Central Africa, at 22 million accounting for 40% of all child brides in the region. UNICEF estimates that the world has about 650 million females who were married under the age of 18 and Nigeria has the 11th highest prevalence of child marriage in the world, and the 3rd highest absolute number of women married or in a union before the age of 18 in the world at 3,742,000. 

In Nigeria, at least 4 in every 10 girls, accounting for 43% of girls, are married before the age of 18. In Northern Nigeria, the rates can be as high as at least 7 in 10 girls, which accounts for 76%. 

At a time where the nation is facing economic crises occasioned by the multiple problems of the Nigerian society and the peculiar COVID-19 pandemic year, attention is not likely to be drawn towards that seemingly insignificant member of the society, on whom a price is put by her family and the society to be given out, most times, for the financial liberation of her family. The member of the family, who becomes the first option for marriage in most cases when the family is in a financial crisis. The person, through whom, it is hoped that good fortune will come to the family after being married and yet in whom the family is willing to invest the least upon. The Nigerian Girl Child! The child, whom the Nigerian society does not readily see as a key factor to the long-lasting relief for the Nigerian economy. 

While attention is being drawn to the international markets, exchange rates, commodity prices, inflation rates, and more, the girl child in some quarters of the society is being exchanged in the marriage market in an attempt to lessen the financial burden of her family or for other financial or political gains. A process in which the girl is mostly not in support but cannot speak up because she is meant not to have a voice. Child marriage in Nigeria is driven by a mix of factors including poverty, poor education, strong social and religious traditions, legislation, and more. How are these affecting Nigerian homes, the Nigerian economy, and Nigerian society?

Poverty: A Cause and Effect of Child Marriage

Many families have varied reasons why they give out their daughters for marriage. One of them which is a major factor is poverty. The calculation of some parents is that giving out the girls for early marriage will lessen the financial burden on them as parents and also help to secure the child’s future since she will be catered to by her husband. In Nigeria, child marriage is twice as likely to occur in rural areas and over three times more common among the poorest demographic. Africa’s most populous nation and the largest economy is unique in such a way that it is marked by a dichotomy of extremes. You have people living in either extreme wealth or those in abject poverty with a greater percentage of people in abject poverty. Therefore, poverty and underdevelopment have been identified as drivers of child marriage. And amongst the poor, more than 80% of young women marry in childhood, compared to 10 percent of their rich counterparts. This means that girls from poor families are 3 times more likely to become child brides than girls from the richest homes. 

If parents give out their daughters with the calculations of escaping poverty in mind, how well then, is this paying off for the child, the parents, and the society as a whole? How successful has this attempt to use the girl child to lessen family and society poverty been? Who gains in this process and who losses in the process? How far have the fortunes of families been changed in the many years of giving out their daughters? Are parents learning from the experiences of others or just going along with the norm simply because it is culture or tradition or religion? Is the Nigerian government paying attention to this process and realizing the potential losses girl child marriage is costing the country?

In an interview with Click Naija, Hajiya Habiba Mohammed, the Director, Center for Girls Education, Zaria, Kaduna State, explains what some parents refer to as their reasons for giving out their daughters. She said that many parents do it to lessen the financial burden of the family and enjoy other benefits from the suitor who in turn blesses the family with gifts. This calculation, however, almost always, never turns out as planned. The projections of most families soon quickly turn negative when the reality of the marriage hits the couple. She said cases abound where husbands have had to return the brides to their parents’ houses either because the girl contracts a disease owing to complications from childbirth, or their inability to cater financially to the bride and their children. This becomes a vicious cycle of improved poverty where the poverty that should have ended with just the girl is doubled, or tripled with her and her children to cater to. 

Hajiya Habiba Mohammed, the Director, Center for Girls Education, Zaria, Kaduna State Nigeria, In an interview with Click Naija

Hajiya Habiba gave the instance of a young girl who was given out for marriage and was later retired to her father’s house with 3 children increasing her financial burden and that of her parents. It becomes like the case of penny wise pound foolish or the case of robbing peter to pay paul. A father trying to lessen the financial burden of his family. But ends up incurring more financial burden by having more people to care for and more mouths to feed. 

Two Child Bride Survivor Stories

Two Stories of girls who have been subjected to the experience of early marriage is only a testimonial to what other Nigerian girls in their situations have been through or are still going through.

Najatu Hamza is an 18-year-old girl, from Yakasai, Zaria Kaduna State, who was 13 years when she was married off to a man who already had other wives. Najatu shares her story on how she was mocked by the children of the other wives for taking their father’s attention away. Najatu said, while she played with her friends who were children like her, she would hear the other wives say she is not even mature. She gave birth to her first child at 15 and lost him to illness. She has had several miscarriages in the marriage and says it has not been an easy experience for her. 

Najatu Hamza, from Yakasai, Zaria Kaduna State, Nigeria

She has decided to pick up the pieces of her life and has been enrolled back in school. At 18, she is presently in junior secondary school 1 and hopes to become a teacher or a doctor after her schooling.


17-year-old Raiya Jamilu from Wuchichiri, Zaria Local Government Area, Kaduna State, who presently lives with her parents is a survivor of child marriage. Raiya was 12 years old when she was forced by her parents to get married to a young man who did not want to get married to her. This made her face a lot of difficulties in the marriage as the man she was married to didn’t like her at all. This led her to complain to her mother and the matter was taken to the Emir, who intervened in the situation and asked that she goes back to the parents’ home.

On getting home she discovered she was pregnant and was returned back to her husband’s house by her mother. Raiya was returned back and forth from her parents to her husband’s house about four times before the marriage was finally annulled in court. One of the challenges Raiya faced while in the marriage was that, her husband hardly provided 3 square meals for her in a day. Sometimes her mother had to bring food for her to get some food to eat. She said she really suffered and was sick a lot of the time. 

Raiya, has been divorced from her husband and is presently working on the farms to earn money to help herself and her son. She says her life would have been different if she has gone to school and was matured before getting married. She said she would have been happier and her parents would be happy too because she probably wouldn’t have to rely on her parents for financial assistance. However, though she presently stays with her parents, she is happier because she has already started working and is contributing to her parents’ upkeep. Raiya still hopes to get married again someday but also hopes to go back to school and start up a business.

Girl Child Marriage, Population and Labour Force Participation 

Child marriage doesn’t just impact girls, it impacts the entire society especially economically. At the end of the day, the prosperity of everyone boils down to the economic sustainability of society. When half of the potential workforce in a country is unable to contribute to economic activity, society as a whole suffers. A 2017 World Bank study estimates that Nigeria could generate an additional $7.6 billion in earnings and productivity if it ends child marriage. This accounts for the largest monetary estimate of the annual economic cost of child marriage through lost earnings and productivity globally. 

The relationship between child marriage and labor force participation is complex. Lower educational attainment among women who marry as children may reduce their likelihood of entering the labor market and adversely affect the type of jobs they engage in. 

Another major fall out of early child marriage in Nigeria is that births increase and population explosion undermines the government’s ability to effectively plan and mobilize resources for sustainable development. Child marriage could lead to higher fertility associated which may influence women’s roles in the labor market and the number of hours they can work. Young women will have frequent interruptions to employment due to childbirth and the time burden of care responsibilities can also affect the types of jobs that women can engage in, forcing them into lower-paying jobs and more unstable work situations. Child marriage can also curb women’s businesses and limit their bargaining power on issues concerning their households, including, possibly with regards to, the decision to enter the labor force. 

The Ambiguity of Legislation on Child Rights and Marriage in Nigeria

The Nigerian government signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. It has also signed the African Union’s Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in 2003. The government has even gone further to incorporate both tools into domestic law by disseminating the Child’s Right Act in 2003. While this can be seen as a step in the right direction, the Child’s Right Act does not provide sufficient protection for victims of child marriage. The act is designed to safeguard children’s rights, protecting them from every form of abuse and inhumanity. This includes invalidating any marriage contract for persons under the age of 18 and prohibiting child betrothal by legal guardians or parents.

In Nigeria, structure and culture are intertwined, and the ambiguity of the Nigerian Constitution indirectly encourages the practice of child marriage. For instance, while the adoption of state religion is prohibited, the constitution allows states to make laws for peace and good governance. Nigeria’s multi-ethnic and multi-cultural practices promote child marriage. Some of them are religious beliefs and others are traditions that can be regarded as working in opposite direction with the laws. The Child rights act of 2003 is seen as weak, stipulating a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment and a fine equivalent to about $1,400 in addition to the loss of custody of the child. More importantly, is the fact that the act is yet to be adopted or passed into law by each state in Nigeria. It is therefore not enough to have the act. For child marriage to be considered illegal in Nigeria, the state need to adopt this act as, presently in Nigeria, children remain in the legislative preserve of states.

Empowering Girls and Ending Child Marriage

Child marriage is a social illness that needs to ‘eradicated’ just as major diseases that threaten the existence of societies and communities. If girls stay in school and out of marriage they can learn the skills to join the workforce and lift themselves out of poverty until a time when they feel prepared enough and empowered to make the decision of marriage. Economic empowerment will not only increase their individual income, it will have ripple effects for their children, families, communities, and the country. 

The nation is paying a higher price for marrying out its girls, like Najatu and Raiya, early than it probably realizes or bargained for. The desire to reduce poverty, through the early marriage of the girl child, is inadvertently increasing the poverty of the girl, her family, and the entire Nigerian society.  Therefore, empowering girls is key to ending child marriage, and ending child marriage is key to financial prosperity for the nation.

This story/research/investigation was supported by the US embassy via the ATUPA fellowship by Civic Hive.

Story: Ehizogie Ohiani

Photo Credit: Center for Girls Education, Zaria Kaduna State, Nigeria



Rosemary Luka is a young mother of two children who is one of the numerous Nigerian women hit by the increased financial hardship that came along with the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a woman who only heard about how other people received support and palliatives from the government and other NGOs, but never benefited during and after the lockdown. She said she equally saw the lootings of COVID-19 palliatives going on across the country and even though these acts have been condemned by many, she expressed her wish to have also had access to her portion of the palliatives. According to her, she is hungry and just needs food regardless of how it may come. For many like Rosemary, the need to feed stands as interference in deciding to scramble for a share of the re-looted palliative.

Florence Luka interview with Click Naija

In October 2020, women groups began to decry the low representation of women in the COVID-19 palliative distribution and also demanding more accountability and condemning corruption. According to Partners West Africa Nigeria, 87% of Nigerian women lost their jobs and source of income during the lockdown and 61% were unaware of provisions made by the government.

The Complex Role of Nigerian Woman

Nigerian women, like their counterparts in other developing countries, perform complex multiple roles as mothers, workers, managers of households, and providers for their home feeding and upkeep. They take care of their husbands, children, and members of their extended families. When the government of the day decided to support households with palliatives due to the economic impact of COVID-19, there were identified gaps in how much the needs of women were put into consideration in the planning process especially since it is expected that women would have a good knowledge of what her household needs to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

A woman’s financial state arguably has a greater direct impact on her children than any other member of the family. Florence is another mother of two children, who was hit by the impact of the pandemic and the lockdown and it almost pushed her to make a fatal decision concerning her unborn child. As at the heat of the lockdown, Florence was 5 months pregnant with a third child. Due to the loss of her livelihood, she and her children went on without food for two days with the unborn child in her belly. When she could not bear the burden anymore, she decided to take any drug that would help her to abort the child so that the child would not die of starvation in her womb. This is a Nigerian woman whose poverty had ripple effect on her children putting her life and that of her unborn child at risk.

Florence sharing her story with Click Naija

Despite the government’s claim that it distributed palliatives to poor households, impact reports reveal a prevalence of food insecurity across the country, which has not improved since the lockdown. In the FCT many women with their children were reported having to skip meals. Elizabeth Ojeba, a mother of 3, narrates how she has had to put her children through compulsory fasting where they would eat once a day around 4 pm and go to bed on an empty stomach to resume the fast the following day. She said, sometimes, they go through this up to 4 days or up to one week at a stretch. Elizabeth sells homemade drinks in places like motor parks and mechanic workshops. The COVID-19 situation however made her sales drop drastically as most people refused to purchase such locally made drinks due to the fear of the spread of the virus via any form of liquid exchange. Elizabeth who is into the catering business, and who almost totally went out of business, said other forms of palliatives like free electricity supply from the government to save her extra cost and help her preserve her petty trade, would have made more sense, as palliative, to her.

Elizabeth Ojeba Interview with Click Naija

Distribution Plan of COVID-19 Palliatives and The Community Realities

At the planning of distribution of palliatives, households are set as the target. However, in reporting those who go on without food, women and children are the ones counted and reported upon. The question then is why women don’t make up the target for distribution of these food items. The home where the woman gets supply of food, is a home where everyone, including the men, gets food.

As part of plans to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians due to the impact of the pandemic on livelihood and cost of living the Nigerian Government decided to focus on households as its distribution point. The focus was on poor Nigerian households. Despite this method and distribution, there were testimonies of mothers who could not feed their children due to the lack of food to eat. The harsh reality of how effective this method was, can be attested to by the number of people who eventually benefited from the exercise. In the cause of carrying out the distribution of palliative to households, some monitoring teams met that the situation planned for was not the reality on the ground with the Nigerian people and therefore raising questions on the method of distribution of food items to households.

The Nigerian Woman After Covid-19 Palliatives with Dr. Jophia Gupar, The National Coordinator of Civil Society Emergency Intervention Group and the Founder at Pan African Young Women Development Initiative on ‘Women Realities,’ Click Naija

According to Dr. Johia Gupar, The National Coordinator of Civil Society Emergency Intervention Group and the Founder at Pan African Young Women Development Initiative who spoke on Click Naija Online Radio women’s programme, ‘Women Realities’, some of the findings she made alongside her team during the distribution of palliative in the FCT as a monitoring group, were unexpected. When the teams went into the field, they found that many households had more than one family living within the same household. According to her in some cases, there were households housing up to 6 or 8 families in them. It was therefore a gross assumption on the part of the government that every household had one family living in it. There were also reports of women complaining that the palliatives given to their households were sold by their husbands.

This meant that more palliative had to be given to fewer households than planned and it would not be as far-reaching as planned. This brings into question, the claimed reach of the palliatives. If the palliatives were targeted at women, it probably would have sounded lopsided, but this would have likely yielded more results because, there is likely a woman in every family, especially where there are children. For polygamous homes, this would have been a better model as well because it means that every child including the husbands in such a household would get food since their mothers have food.

Palliatives vs Nutritional Supplementation 

Nigeria remains one of the worst-hit by malnutrition in the Sub Saharan region, with children and women in their reproductive age most affected. The United Nations measurement of poverty is aimed at identifying the poor from a variety of perspectives: including the inability to meet the calorie requirements per day. The 2018 NBS Demographic Health Survey revealed that 37% of children under age are stunted, 17% severely stunted and 7% wasted. 22% are underweight and 7% are severely underweight. 

One of the aims of the palliatives was to improve the uptake of food and nutritional supplementation. Dr. Johpia also said that many women would have preferred other items to meet the nutritional needs of their families other than the ones distributed. She said some women were in need of drug supplementation, and other food items apart from rice and noodles like beans. This should have made up for the nutritional balance needed for families and help prevent the already high level of malnutrition. According to a monitoring report by Connected Development who had their team on the ground to monitor the distribution of the palliatives in the FCT, for the distribution monitored, there were 12000 bags of 3kg rice and 12000 bags of condiments to be shared. The bag of condiments contained 3 small bags of Semo, 2kg beans, 3kg of garri, 10 sachets of tomato paste, one bag of salt and sugar each, 1 liter of oil (5 sachets). For the group monitored by the Civil Society Emergency Intervention Group, the main items distributed were bags of rice. During the looting or re-looting of the COVID-19 palliatives, which were initially hoarded, it was seen on social media, that the main item that was stuck up for distribution was rice and noodles. It can therefore be assumed that there was a general notion in the planning that the requirement of Nigerian households was rice. 

Looking at the choice of items purchased to achieve food supplementation which should have made up for the nutritional value required by members of a household, there are big questions as to how much supplementation was achieved. Even for the tranch where other items were purchased, the question of balance of these items to have the required nutritional value according to world standards, calls for answers. In 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that Nigeria is burdened by three key malnutrition indicators: anemia, overweight, and stunting. WHO further defined malnutrition as the deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. More often than not, the average Nigerian is experiencing both malnutrition and hunger. Situations like those of Rosemary and Elizabeth and their children are therefore potential springboards to increasing hunger and malnutrition in Nigeria.

Market Price Realities

In a society like Nigeria where certain chores like going to the market for shopping is generally seen as a woman’s responsibility, or a woman’s type of chore, the reality of the prices of household items is felt directly by the woman. In many cases, she has to sort that problem herself if there is an increase in the prices of foodstuff. Even in cases where the money is provided by her spouse for shopping, when there is a hike above the amount she has been given, she most likely will not go back home to ask for the difference in the market price. Neither will she go back home without purchasing those necessary items. The cost of any market difference falls directly on her. However, in many cases, she is the provider of the funds for shopping for her household and also the bearer of the increased cost.

In Nigeria, The Consumer Price Index for food increased by 1.18% from March 2020 to April 2020 caused by increases in prices of food items like yam, potatoes, and other tubers, fish, oils and fats, meat, bread, and cereals, fruits and vegetables. The average annual rate of change between April 2019 and April 2020 was 14.22%. In September 2020, the consumer index price of food in Nigeria stood at 382.7. Compared to September 2019, the CPI of food increased by roughly 17%. The consumer price index is the measure that examines the changes in the purchasing power of a currency and the changes in the price level of the market basket of consumer goods and services purchased by households. Women are the main purchasers of these consumer goods. The movement of the consumer price index is the main measure for inflation rate and this puts women at the forefront of the direct impact of inflation especially in 2020.

The Nigerian government has carried out several social intervention programmes with some of them targeted specifically at women. Including conditional cash transfer, interest-free loans, and items to start up a business. However, there have been reports that many women with their spouses, who received items like sewing machines sell the items handed over to them. This brings to question the justification for the huge amounts the government is investing in these programmes and its plans to get value for money. Wanda Ebe of the Wanda Adu Foundation has worked with women for years and especially during the COVID-19 lockdown. She shares some stories of women’s experiences during the lockdown and speaks on the effectiveness of the financial support the government is providing for women. She suggests that industrial business hubs would serve the purpose of alleviating the poverty of women more than handing out conditional cash transfers to women or even buying items to give them.

Wanda Ebe of Wanda Abu Foundation in an interview with Click Naija

Since 2018, more than half the world is moving to the middle class or richer. However, the story is different as Africa currently adds poor people with 70% of the world poor now living in Africa since 2019. For Africa to end poverty by 2030, more than one person would need to escape poverty every second. Nigeria stands second to India as the poverty capital of the world. Nigerian women are the most affected and are being marginalized in the decision-making process, employment, access to credit, and economic opportunities. 

According to the World Bank, there was an estimated temporary 9% point increase in the national poverty headcount rate. The Nigeria SAM Multiplier Results show that the national poverty rate increased by 15% pointing to the fact that during the lockdown period 30 million more people started living below the poverty line. Some of whom may remain poor at the end of 2020, 70% of whom are women. 

This story/research/investigation was supported by the US embassy via the ATUPA fellowship by Civic Hive.

Story: Ehizogie Ohiani

Cover Photo Credit: Connected Development


Domestic Violence – A Hindrance to National Productivity

Rosemary Kpadoo Akure is a 34-year-old mother of 5 girls, who has been a victim of domestic violence for several years, and whose husband refused to cater to his family financially due to the fact that she had no son for him. The violent outbursts by Mr. Akure all came to a climax during the covid-19 lockdown when Rosemary almost lost her life after being beaten to a state of unconsciousness by her husband.

Rosemary Kpadoo Akure, a survivor of domestic violence shares her story on how she caters to herself and her 5 daughters financially.

Inequality in the financial state of women has continued to rise in Nigeria especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps some experts may say the power of the financial difference has had a greater impact on the lives of women during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is evident in the rise of domestic violence against women. Intra-household tensions have risen since the lockdown and led to subsequent economic crises, increasing the likelihood and severity of Intimate Partner Violence. According to the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Helpdesk Research Report on the Impact of COVID-19 on women and girls in Nigeria, some husbands took out their aggression by using coercive and controlling behavior as a way of seeking to escape their breadwinner responsibilities and by threatening divorce.

Apart from violence, the report also shows that women and girls who were subjected to violence face increased barriers to reporting violence during the pandemic. In the case of Rosemary, it was her neighbors who came to her rescue and sought help from the nearest medical facility and alerted the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP who waded into the matter immediately. One of the reasons many women remain in abusive relationships and put their lives at risk is their inability to support themselves financially due to their poor financial state. Gender experts have identified this as one of the tools of control used by perpetrators to keep their victims under their control. Women are faced with hard choices of feeding their children, sending their children to school, finding funds for rent and other daily utility bills. If women were financially stable, what kind of decisions would they make concerning their lives?

Some facts about the financial state of the Nigerian woman as shown by the World Poverty Clock reveals that the number of Nigerians who are extremely poor, living on under $1.90 a day, is now 94m and rising, making the country the poverty capital of the world. More startling is the fact that women account for more than 70% of these extremely poor. Women earn only 77 cents for every dollar that men get for the same work. The Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access to Financial Services in Nigeria Survey 2018, shows that financial access is skewed towards male adults with adult men more likely to be banked than adult women.

What are the dynamics that have made men more violent to their spouses in this era of the pandemic? What is it about our systems that make men more likely to get formal financial support than women? Jacinta Ngozi Ike, Desk Officer, FCT Gender-Based Response Team says that many men in Nigeria are presently out of job and this has put pressure on their relationships with their wives at home.

Jacinta Ngozi Ike, Desk Officer, FCT Gender-Based Response Team speaks on why domestic violence is on the rise.

The role of government can be seen to be either directly encouraging the increase in gender based violence of helping to reduce it and improve the financial state of women and further reduce their risk of being abused? Agnes Utahad, the Director Gender Social and Development Secretariat, FCT, says the government has set up referral centers where women can go to report cases of violence and can get training on their chosen skills. However, only few states in Nigeria have set up such facilities where women get help or begin the process of being rehabilitated.

Agnes Utahad, Director Gender, Social Development Secretariat, FCT explains government effort to help abused women financially.

It is difficult for women to contribute to the financial growth of the country when they struggle daily with domestic violence that mostly comes as a result of their financial inequalities? Domestic violence does not only affect women but also directly affects the entire welfare and well-being of their children. When those children are girls, the negative impact is even greater. UNESCO Institute for Statistics holds that forty percent of girls are out of school in Nigeria. Rosemary’s five daughters could have potentially added to that number if not for her determination to struggle and send her girls to school at all costs.

Research in different parts of Nigeria shows that poverty is a key factor contributing to the number of out of schoolgirls in Nigeria. The British Council Girls Education in Nigeria Report 2014 shows that poverty and employment simultaneously limit parents’ demand for education, and increase the tendency of pulling children out of school and into various forms of work.  With over 60% of Nigerians, almost 100 million people, living in poverty, girls are often on the list of items to reduce family costs. When a woman is abused and thrown out of her home, like Rosemary Pkadoo Akure and her 5 daughters, such girls are directly thrown out of school. This leads to the reinforcement of the vicious cycle of uneducated girls growing up to become uneducated women, which affects their life decisions and financial state and which has the potential of exposing them to more gender-based violence.

The weak provision or total absence of social protection policy is therefore a critical barrier to the education of these groups of children classified as vulnerable children who are victims of parental quarrels, broken homes, family instability, and who are victims of domestic violence. There is a need to systematically implemented government policies on social and educational security.

Education, finances, and social stability of women are pieces adding up to the same puzzle. Nigeria women are some of the most resilient women in the world as many who have survived abusive relationships still struggle to meet up with their financial demands. A BBC report states that 40% of Nigerian women are entrepreneurs, which is the highest ratio of female business owners in the world describing them as driven, innovative, and passionate about uplifting themselves and others around them.

The need for the financial stability and equality of women and the fight against domestic violence as a gender bias is not only keeping women down but also restraining the country from reaching its massive economic potential. A McKinsey Global Institute report states that Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) could grow by 23% or could be increased by $229bn by 2025 if women participated in the economy to the same extent as men. What would liberating factors enable women to attain financial equality? Ene Ede, a gender rights activist, explains that many financial institutions will prepare to give financial support to a woman’s husband than give it to her directly which has the capacity to expand the business opportunities of other women.

Ene Ede, Gender Rights Activist examines the effectiveness of the laws protecting women and their access to finance.

Perhaps what the Nigerian woman needs, is a society that is less discriminatory and more supportive in how it treats and caters to the wellbeing of women in achieving their goals and aspirations. Cherie Blair a British Barrister, Writer, and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, once said, “The woman that has financial independence can make choices, they will also change the lives of those around them and ultimately shape the society for the better.”

This Story/Research/Investigation was Supported by the US Embassy via the ATUPA Fellowship by Civic Hive.

Story: Ehizogie Ohiani