COVID19 Economy Headline News Nigeria Special Report

Increasing Rate of Economic and Social Inequalities due to COVID-19

The Covid 19 pandemic has exposed abnormalities and unbalanced conditions all across the world, exacerbating poverty, gender-based violence, poor access to healthcare and education, and economic insecurity, particularly in developing countries.

According to an Oxfam International’s report, “Inequality kills“, the world’s 10 richest men more than doubled their riches from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion within the first 2 years of a pandemic that has seen the income of 99% of people collapse and over 160 million thrown into poverty.

According to the report, Nigerian billionaires saw their wealth increase by 38% during the pandemic, while 7.4 million people are estimated to have slipped into extreme poverty in 2020.

The country’s top 2 billionaires have more wealth than the bottom 63 million, plunging the country into extreme economic disparity and threatening the extinction of the middle class.

As a result of the pandemic’s associated social-economic distress, more women and girls face unprecedented risks of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse and violence as a result of the loss of means of livelihood.

From the report, the pandemic has pushed gender parity back from 99 to 135 years, making the pursuit of gender equality and equity an illusion.

During the epidemic, inequalities between countries widened as richer countries denied developing countries access to adequate vaccines and technologies, allowing the virus to mutate into other versions such as the latest Omicron.

Without a question, severe inequality, which is a form of economic violence, is primarily the outcome of policies and political decisions that constantly increase the wealth and power of a privileged few at the expense of the vast majority.

Equitable distribution of income

As a result, bridging the inequality gaps and ensuring equitable distribution of income and welfare for all Nigerians has become critical.

To that aim, the government, particularly the federal government, has a significant responsibility to play in creating a more equal and just society.

This can be accomplished by enacting permanent progressive taxes on capital and wealthy persons in order to fundamentally reduce wealth disparity.

It would be a strategic reversal of an economic policy that imposes the majority of the tax burden on the labour force and many people’s consumption, as seen by the recent 10% tax on a litre of fizzy and sweet drinks.

Fundamentally, the government must put an end to tax havens and corporate tax avoidance, which deprive them of vital money required to meet the welfare and income needs of the vast majority of Nigerians.

They should also pursue policies that address monopolies and limits market concertation in the hands of few individuals and corporations to address the negative impact on business inequality.

Preventative and response programs

Ending gender-based violence through preventative and response programs, repealing sexist legislation, and financially supporting women’s rights organisations are critical to resolving gender inequality and violations of women’s rights.

There is also a need to modify legislation and redistribute power in decision-making for equal representation of all social strata, as it is clear that the wealthy elites have a considerable influence in the nation’s political sphere.

Following the Covid-19 Pandemic, there is an inequality drive that has characterised the production and distribution of vaccines; as a result, international regulatory organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, IMF, World Health Organization, and World Tarde Organisation must review trade rules that favour rich countries and corporations while preventing low- and middle-income countries from holding the rights and access to Covid-19 vaccines and other technologies.

To bridge the inequality divide, the government and wealthy elites must redistribute wealth and income through substantial investments in social welfare, infrastructure, and human resource development.

Writing by Azizatu Sani of our Current Affairs unit; editing by Saadatu Albashir