By Ejiro Joyce Otive-Igbuzor | The country that President Bola Tinubu inherited on 29th May 2023 has a long history of marginalisation of vulnerable groups – ethnic minorities, women, youths, and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

This might not be apparent on the surface as Nigeria has a surfeit of development policies and laws that give the impression of a country that places a premium on inclusive governance. However, there is a major misalignment of policy and practice. The policies and laws have yet to close the inequality gap in the country.
Ahead of the 2023 general election, President Tinubu launched an 80-page document, titled ‘The Renewed Hope Agenda’1 . Pages 57–62 of the manifesto contain his pledges on political inclusion and empowerment, including entrepreneurship, for youths, women, and PWDs. He also made some promises on inclusion in his inaugural speech and in other speeches.

This policy note reviews the extent to which the president’s expressed commitments have been translated into concrete actions towards promoting gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) in the country. It concludes with recommendations.

Background: A Landscape of Gender and Social Exclusion

The democratic compact between citizens and the government encompasses extant laws, policies, the ruling party’s manifesto, and periodic policy statements by the president and other senior government officials. Active citizenship necessitates vigilant monitoring of these commitments by citizens to ensure government accountability.
Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) provides that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” Recognising that “the people” are not a homogenous bunch with generic needs or equal power to participate and claim benefits is key to responsible governance. A government is considered transformative only if it creates systems that foster critical examination of inequalities and exclusion, and implements policies, laws, and systems that promote inclusion and equality.

Apart from the constitution, Nigeria is signatory to several international and regional anti-discrimination treaties and has a repertoire of GESI laws and policies. These include: the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, 2015; the National Gender Policy, 2021–2026; the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015; the Not-Too-Young-to-Run Act, 2018; and the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2019.

There is consensus that the current state of inequality in Nigeria, despite the existence of these laws, results from a combination of many factors. These factors include: weak technical capacity to translate the GESI commitments and provisions into action; failure of policy implementers to ensure a coordinated approach in executing these commitments in their various ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs); the prevalence of GESI-blind development planning; the use of a budget template and of budget heads that do not specifically capture allocations that address the wide inequalities; and the absence of GESI-tracking indices in parliamentary oversight2.

While adopting the revised National Gender Policy in 2021, former President Muhammadu Buhari said: “I commit to ensuring that the provisions of this National Gender Policy are embraced by government across sectors and at all levels to provide the much-needed social reforms that will guarantee our social contract …”3 His administration, however, achieved only 16% gender inclusion against the 50% provision of the policy.4

It is noteworthy that it was also during the Buhari Administration that Nigerian women achieved a momentous legal victory at the Federal High Court against government’s failure to implement the 35% affirmative action clause in the 2006 version of the National Gender Policy.5 However, this victory proved fleeting, as the then Attorney-General of the Federation promptly appealed the ruling. The 2022 constitution review exercise also witnessed the rejection of five gender equality bills by the parliament, further underlining the lack of political will among Nigerian leaders on narrowing the gender gap in politics and other spheres in the country.

It is important to underline the fact that gender equality is pivotal for achieving inclusive and sustainable growth. Sadly, Nigeria ranks low on major measures of gender equality and development. Nigeria ranks 130th out of 146 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Global Gender Index (at 0.637). This is a further decline from the 2022 ranking as 123rd out of 146 countries and a score of 0.639. Labour participation is higher for men than for women in the country. Also, women earn only 50% of men’s income, down from 58% in 2022.6 The gender gap in financial inclusion also dropped from 8% in 2020 to 9% in 2023.7 Sluggish growth exacerbates poverty, with marginalised groups hardest hit. Informal employment was 92.3% in Q3 2023, with women significantly more involved than men. Underemployment also affects women more disproportionately.

Limited access to quality healthcare and social services further marginalises women. Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates globally, with 1,047 deaths per 100,000 live births.9 Additionally, women have limited access to reproductive healthcare services.

In 2022, a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) survey revealed alarming findings: 63% of the population – 133 million people – were multidimensionally poor. But there is a gender dimension here too. The National Development Plan (NDP) (2021–2025) acknowledges feminised poverty and attributes women’s economic exclusion to patriarchy, patrilineal inheritance patterns that exclude women from land and property ownership, and women’s burden of unpaid care work, among others.10 These present serious challenges for a nation committed to building an inclusive economy by 2050.11

Women’s representation in both elected and appointed positions remains significantly low in Nigeria. On the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s ranking of women in national parliaments, Nigeria as of 1st April 2024 ranks 177th out of 185 countries,12 and ranks 54th out of 54 countries in Africa.13 In the current 10th Assembly, there are only four female senators out of 109 (a decline from eight in the 9th Assembly) and 17 female members out of 360 in the House of Representatives (a marginal increase from 13 in the last assembly).

Across the 36 states, no female governor has ever been elected, and only six states have female deputy governors. In the 9th Assembly, there were 15 states with no women at all in their parliaments. In the current dispensation, 13 states across the country have zero number of women in their state parliaments. The affected states are: Abia, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Osun, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. While the Tinubu Administration is not directly responsible for the low number of women in parliament, it has an opportunity to improve gender inclusion through appointments, bills, and executive orders. Figure 1 shows a historical trend in ministerial appointments since 1999 and how President Tinubu has not bucked the trend.

Nigeria’s ‘gender character’ cannot continually be overlooked. Just as the ‘Federal Character Principle’ enshrined in the Nigerian constitution provides for fair representation in appointive and elective offices among geopolitical zones, gender character needs to be engraved in laws and policy. Women, who comprise 49% of the population and who actively participated in the struggle for democracy, rightfully deserve a seat at the decision-making table. This is the fairness argument.

However, gender equality and women’s political inclusion are not just matters of fairness but also of good economics. Economic and financial policies affect women and men differently, often unintentionally. Many development and research institutions now recognise that gender equality fosters economic dividends. A recent World Bank report puts the economic costs of the gender pay gap at $160 trillion in human capital wealth losses. The gender gap could potentially add billions of dollars to Nigeria’s economy. A McKinsey Global Institute report also projects that achieving gender equality in Nigeria could, by 2025, increase the country’s GDP by 19%, or $90 billion. Similarly, the Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, disclosed that Nigeria can potentially gain $299 billion in GDP growth by 2025 if equal participation of women in the digital economy is prioritised.14

Nigerian youths do not fare better than the women in terms of political and economic inclusion. Nigerians under 35 years account for 74.22% of the population and Nigeria’s youth population is projected to exceed 200 million by 2050. Nigeria’s median age is 18.1 years. The youthful population represents an untapped economic asset.15 The United Nations Population Fund estimates “that countries in sub-Saharan Africa, [including Nigeria] have the potential to benefit up to US$ 500 billion (over 30% of GDP) annually from demographic dividends for up to 30 years”.16

But youth unemployment rates are particularly high: 8.6% among youth (15–24 years) in Q3 2023, an increase of 1.4% compared to Q2 2023. The proportion of youths (15–24 years) identified as NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) in Q3 2023 was 13.7%, with more females (15.5%) than males (12.0%).17

UNICEF reported in 2022 that 18.5 million children were not in school in Nigeria (up from 10.5 million in 2021 ;18 female primary net attendance rates are 47.7% in the North-East and 47.3% in the North-West, meaning that over half of the girls are not in school in these two geo-political zones. Contributing factors include early marriage, pregnancy, and financial constraints. Nigeria has the highest number of child brides in West and Central Africa, with 23.6 million girls and women married before age 18. In the North-Eastern states of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, 2.8 million children lack education due to insecurity. At least 802 schools are closed, 497 classrooms destroyed, and 1,392 classrooms described as damaged but repairable.19

Youth inclusion in governance has historically lagged behind, despite the fact that youths constitute the highest voting bloc. In 2015, only three out of 360 House of Representatives members were young people (18–35 years), and youths occupied only 57 out of 993 seats available at the state assemblies. The enactment of the Not Too Young to Run Act in 2018 marked a shift in the 2019 elections, with 3% of House of Representatives seats and 8% of state legislature seats occupied by youths. However, youth candidacy declined from 34% in 2019 to 28.6% in 2023.20 On the positive note though, young people between the ages of 25 and 35 won 14 out of the 360 seats in the House of Representatives and 92 out of 993 constituency seats in sub-national legislative houses.21

On disability inclusion, Sections 15(2) and 42(1)(a) of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution mention grounds for non-discrimination but omit disability, rendering over 29 million Nigerians with disabilities constitutionally invisible. But disability inclusion is a moral imperative that is economically advantageous. Globally, PWDs represent $1.2 trillion in annual disposable income and can contribute 3–7% of GDP if given equal opportunity. PWDs enrich workplace dynamics with resilience, tenacity, and optimism. A 2020 study by Accenture found that businesses focusing on disability inclusion grow their sales 2.9 times faster and their profits 4.1 times faster than others.22

PWDs in Nigeria face economic and social marginalisation, exacerbating their vulnerability and limiting their access to healthcare, education, and employment. They encounter additional challenges in accessing basic services and seeking justice. Needless to say, they face stigma and discrimination, as disability is often perceived as punishment or ill-luck.23

The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act was signed into law in January 2019, mandating accessibility modifications within a five-year moratorium/transition period. But the unmet goals are alarming though the transition period witnessed enhanced visibility of PWD issues and data gathering, stronger advocacy for the human rights model over the charity model, and the establishment of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) in 2020. As at 2021, 98.5% of public buildings were still inaccessible, formal sector employment for PWDs was 1%, access to education was 2%, 92% of PWDs were in need of rehabilitation, and 96% of PWDs lacked access to assistive devices.

A GESI Assessment of the Tinubu Administration

The Tinubu Administration made a number of promises to improve the lots of women, youths and other marginalised groups. In this section, we will examine how much of these pledges have been delivered, even when we are mindful that not all the promises can be dully delivered within a year.


Political Inclusion of Women in Governance

  1. 35% affirmative action for women across board.
  2. Legislation (in collaboration with the legislature) to increase female employment in all government MDAs.
  3. Legislation to reserve a minimum of senior positions for women at the federal level and also encourage same in the private sector.

Economic Empowerment

  1. Support access to credit (concessional/soft loans and incentive schemes) for women-owned businesses in collaboration with commercial banks.

Addressing Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

  1. Support to GBV survivors, including better social services, sanctuary homes, and counselling.
  2. Investigate cases of GBV through specialist police units; prosecute GBV cases; implement stiffer penalties against GBV perpetrators.


  1. Promote girls’ access to and longer stay in school through special programmes.
  2. Promote girls’ entry into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) fields through incentives – e.g., scholarships.

Social Empowerment

  1. Lift women and their families out of poverty.
  2. Social welfare, investment, and business development programmes.
  3. Tackle the out-of-school children menace.


  •  On Women’s Political and Social Inclusion

Despite the President’s pledge for a 35% inclusion of women in his cabinet, which falls short of the 50% target outlined in the 2021-2026 National Gender Policy, this promise remains unfulfilled one year into his tenure.24 It is also difficult to identify the concrete things that the administration has done in addressing gender-based violence, promoting STEM education for girls etc. Box 1 shows highlights of President Tinubu’s promises. The following are the highlights of the president’s achievements so far:

  1. Only nine out of 48 (18.75%) ministerial appointees are women.25
  2. Some women have been appointed to head some government agencies and parastatals.26
  3. Four women have been appointed as special advisers on health, energy, policy coordination, culture, and entertainment economy.27

Figure 1 shows a historical trend of ministerial appointments since 1999. Notably, only the Goodluck Jonathan Administration (2011–2015) came anywhere close (31.71%) to fulfilling the 35% affirmative action clause for women in appointive positions.

Source: Invictus Africa
Figure 1 – Trends in Ministerial Appointments, 1999-2023

The performance of the administration can be assessed as follows:

  • The administration’s performance on women’s political inclusion needs improvement.
  • One of Tinubu’s female appointees, Dr. Betta Edu, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, and Halima Shehu, National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIPA), were suspended and are being probed for alleged fraud, along with Edu’s predecessor, Sadiyya Farouq. This action has been commended by civil society as a signal that the president will not tolerate corruption. However, the social protection programme, crucial amid the current hardships faced by Nigerians, was stalled. The Minister of Finance recently mentioned that the programme will be restarted.
  • The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs has not really pulled its weight in leading transformative change (so far). The Minister, in an interview granted to Premium Times, reported delivering ‘impactful programmes’ in 15 states, distributing 387 sets of equipment, including garri-processing machines, industrial sewing machines, fish-grilling machines, and rice-milling machines, aimed at empowering rural women.28 While this approach responds to the immediate needs of the beneficiaries, it does not address systemic gender inequality. For example, Nigeria, home to the largest number of child brides in West Africa, has not renewed the National Strategy to End Child Marriage since its expiration in 2021. (A new version, according to sources close to the ministry, will be launched in 2024). Child marriage is a major cause of girls dropping out of school. Recent actions, such as Niger State’s facilitation of marriages for 100 orphans to purportedly alleviate poverty, highlight the need for proactive measures. The Minister of Women Affairs and feminist organisations opposed the mass wedding. In a surprising move, the minister withdrew her opposition, and has also announced scholarships and various gift items, such as PoS machines, wrappers, and 350 bags of 10 kg rice to the brides-to-be.29
  • Poor fiscal allocations to address identified GESI gaps show a lack of political commitment to gender equality. While policies and rhetoric may espouse the importance of GESI, the budget allocation to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs since 2020 underscores a discrepancy. A gender analysis of the 2024 budget by the Centre for Journalism Information and Development reveals a budget increase of 420.99% between 2020 and 2022 and a decline since then (Figure 2). As Oludiran explains, “the President Tinubu administration only appropriated 0.05% of the 2024 budget to the [Federal] Ministry of Women Affairs.”30 Moreover, only 9.57% of the capital budget was allocated to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, with a mandate to ensure GESI compliance and address issues pertaining to PWDs, women, vulnerable people, and internally displaced persons. This disparity between promises and resource allocation highlights a systemic challenge in translating expressed commitments into tangible action.

Source: CJID
Figure 2 – Allocations to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs Since 2020 31

  • On Inclusion of Youth in Politics and Governance

The president has made several promises to Nigerian youths. Some of them were stated in the Renewed Hope Agenda, the inaugural address and other speeches. The result here is mixed: while there is positive action in certain areas, no concrete action has been initiated in others. (Box 2).

The achievements of the administration on social and political empowerment of youths include the following:

  1. Approval to institutionalise a 30% representation of young people in government appointments. This promise is yet to be fully redeemed but efforts in this direction are notable.
  2. Three cabinet ministers are below 40 years of age.32 (See Table 1).
  3. President Tinubu has established a stand-alone Federal Ministry of Youth Development. Hitherto, the ministry for youth development was fused with and Sports.
  4.  A significant number of young people have been appointed as heads of agencies (including to key agencies like NASENI and CrediCorp) and as presidential aides.


On Social and Political Empowerment

  1. Reserve at least three cabinet positions for persons under the age of 40 and six others for persons under the age of 50.
  2. Issue a presidential directive for 20% of political appointments to MDAs to be reserved for qualified persons under the age of 40.
  3. Institute a biannual ‘State of the Youth Survey’ to create a platform to harvest young Nigerians’ opinion and suggestions.
  4. Pay special attention to youth empowerment programmes and policies.
  5. Institute a Presidential Fellowship Scheme to give talented and determined young Nigerians new opportunities to experience and participate in governance and politics from an early age.
  6. Tackle the out-of-school children menace.

On Youth Empowerment and Entrepreneurship

  1. N75 billion Youth Investment Fund
  2. Cut youth unemployment by half within four years.
  3. Ensure easy access to credit.
  4. Implement business mentorship for youths.
  5. Set up a Youth Advisory Council.
  6. Implement NYSC Reforms.
  7. Establish Business Incubation Centres.

Table 1– Young Ministers in President Tinubu’s' Cabinet

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  • On Youth Economic Inclusion33

In this area, the administration has done or proposed the following:

  1. The Federal Government of Nigeria, under the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, has allocated N200 billion to bolster businesses through three funds administered by the Bank of Industry (BOI).
  • Presidential Conditional Grant Scheme (PCGS): A N50 billion grant scheme designed to support nano business owners (traders, food vendors, ICT businesses, transporters, artisans, and creatives, among others), particularly women and youths, to be disbursed to at least 1,000 beneficiaries across Nigeria’s 774 local government areas and six area councils in the FCT. Beneficiaries are not required to repay, but must meet eligibility criteria: provide personal and bank details, including Bank Verification Number (BVN) and National Identification Number (NIN). They must also register a business name eventually, commit to expansion, and meet application deadlines. The scheme targets 70% women and youths, 10% PWDs, and 5% senior citizens, with the remaining 15% distributed to other demographics.
  • FGN MSME Intervention Fund: With a budget of N75 billion, this fund targets micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to alleviate production, marketing, and distribution costs due to infrastructure challenges. Each beneficiary can receive up to N1 million at a 9% interest rate, repayable over three years, for equipment and working capital.
  • FGN Manufacturing Sector Fund: Also with a budget of N75 billion, this fund supports eligible manufacturing companies, offering up to N1 billion at a 9% interest rate. The repayment period spans five years for term loans and one year for working capital.
  1. The Conditional Cash Transfer Programme – Inaugurated by President Tinubu on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the scheme domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs targets 15 million poor and vulnerable households across the country, each slated to receive N25,000 per month for three months (a total of N75,000). It is envisaged that this fund will alleviate extreme poverty, reduce food insecurity, and aid poor households to cope better with shocks and inflation (currently at 33.69%).
  2. The 3 Million Technical Talent Programme (3MTT) by the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, a critical part of the Renewed Hope Agenda, is aimed at building Nigeria’s technical talent backbone to power the digital economy and position Nigeria as a net talent exporter. It is part of the president’s vision of creating two million digital jobs by 2025. 34 The minister announced that 1,144 devices will be distributed. The programme received a boost, collaborating with HerTechHub and set to distribute 370 laptops and 774 tablets to female participants.35
  3. The Nigerian Youth Investment Fund – Recently, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the restructuring and institutionalisation of the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund, initially established in 2020 to support youth-led and youth-owned enterprises in priority sectors. This is in addition to the N60 billion CBN Fund for Youth approved by FEC. According to the Minister of Youth Development, “this will go a long way to address the long-term marginalisation and exclusion of young people in decision-making, and will also go a long way to encourage young people to participate in decision-making processes and civic engagements.”36
  • On Youth Access to Education

On 3rd April 2024, President Tinubu signed the Student Loans (Access to Higher Education) Bill 2024 into law, stating that it aims to ensure quality education for all, regardless of background. However, it has been argued that removing the family income threshold for loan eligibility (according to the amendment Act)37 may reduce access for truly indigent students. The online portal for the Nigeria Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) went live on 24th May 2024. It opened with a pilot for students in federal higher institutions but will be extended to others soon. Tens of thousands of prospective loanees have applied. It is still early in the day to appraise the implementation of the fund and the extent to which it avoids the lapses of the previous student loan scheme that was introduced in 1972.

In May 2024, First Lady Senator Oluremi Tinubu launched the “We Are Equal Campaign” to promote education for girls and offer second chances to those who have dropped out of school. It is too early to assess the effectiveness of this too.

At a recent stocktaking/scorecard event towards showcasing the achievements of the President Tinubu Administration in the last one year, the Federal Minister of Youth Affairs failed to highlight any concrete achievements on the above promises. Her speech merely restated earlier commitments, including moves to establish a Youth Development Bank “to nurture young entrepreneurs”.

It is noteworthy that promises, efforts, and activities are not results. While the president’s efforts can be applauded, it is important to remember that inclusive policymaking and implementation of existing development policies remain the keys to sustainable development.

Furthermore, there are concerns about the adequacy of palliatives and grants. For example, out of 3.6 million persons who applied for the PCGS, as of 3rd May 2024, it was announced that only one million will be given grants. 38 The demand thus far outweighs the supply.

It remains to be seen how well these policies would eventually translate to lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty (with evidence) across the country.

  • On Disability Inclusion

President Tinubu’s promises on disability inclusion and achievements so far include the following:

  1. The administration reaffirmed its commitment to fully implement the Disability Act to safeguard the rights of PWDs in Nigeria.
  2. The appointment of a PWD as Special Assistant on Disability Matters – President Tinubu on 9th November 2023 appointed Mohammed Isa to this position and directed him “to integrate PWD needs into federal policies and programmes, collaborate with sub-national authorities, and work with the NCPWD to create PWD-friendly policies and environments.”39
  3. On 19th October 2023, President Tinubu signed the Instrument of Ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa, adopted by the Thirtieth Ordinary Session of the Assembly, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 29th January 2018.
  4. The Federal Government approved a 10% inclusion for PWDs in all interventions and schemes of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. Dr. Edu (now suspended) announced this during the launch of the PWD empowerment programme in Abuja. According to her, PWDs will benefit from various programmes, including End Hunger, Conditional Cash Transfer, N-Power, Renewed Hope Shelters, GEEP, and CODE NIGERIA, with implementation through the NCPWD.40
  5. The president has established a presidential task force to ensure compliance with the law, emphasising a society that is all-inclusive and does not compromise on PWDs’ issues.
  6. A bill on disability inclusion in budgets/fiscal policies mandating a compulsory 5% budget allocation to disability inclusion.41

Overall, the 10% affirmative action for PWDs directive by the president, the renewed commitment to hold MDAs accountable for 5% inclusion of PWDs in employment (as enshrined in the Disability Act), and the new bill in the House of Representatives seeking to enforce a 5% mandatory allocation of all budgets to disability issues are commendable. The onus is now on civil society, including the PWD community, to advocate and lobby policy implementers for compliance; monitor budget allocations, budget releases, and actual expenditures; and regularly show how well the government is keeping pace with its promises.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Nigeria has a long-term economic transformation blueprint, the Agenda 2050, with an aim to transform the country into an upper middle-income country, with average real GDP growth rate of 7% and an end period per capita income of $33,328 per annum. According to the agenda, “the purpose of this perspective plan is to fully engage all resources to achieve inclusive growth, reduce poverty, achieve social and economic stability, create a sustainable environment that is consistent with global concerns about climate change, and generate opportunities for all Nigerians to fully develop their potential. The country can achieve these laudable objectives by effectively engaging its youthful and vibrant workforce.”42 As the document notes, more specific strategies, programmes, interventions, and the important task of implementation will be articulated through six five-year, medium-term plans: NDP 2021–2025 (already approved, published, and being implemented), 2026–2030, 2031–2035, 2036–2040, 2041–2045, and 2046–2050.

It is 2024 already. The NDP 2021–2025 will soon come to effluxion, and not much has been achieved. It is concerning that the president’s manifesto and his promises after he was sworn in have failed to align concretely with the country’s development plan. His promise of 35% affirmative action for women is also below the 50% promised by the National Gender Policy (2021–2026). As one development expert43 puts it, “… some of the actions are ad hoc and not linked to any comprehensive development agenda. Little has been said or heard of already adopted development agenda such as Nigeria Agenda 2050 and Nigeria NDP 2021–2025. A candidate’s manifesto cannot be the development agenda of a country. All nations that have made tremendous progress in the last 40 years such as China, India, and Singapore have long-term development plans that are meticulously implemented.”

President Tinubu’s strides in some areas of gender and social inclusion are acknowledged, but more needs to be done to make Nigeria a more inclusive country. We recommend the following:

  1. More involvement of women in governance to close the gender gap. At the very least, the president should fulfil his promise of 35% affirmative action for women.
  2. Effectively engage the country’s youthful and vibrant workforce as enshrined in the Nigeria Agenda 2050 and in fulfilment of the president’s 30% inclusion promise.
  3. Prioritise inclusion of PWDs in accordance with the president’s 10% inclusion promise in all interventions, the law-mandated 5% inclusion in employment, and all other inclusion clauses in the Disability Act. For a community that accounts for about 15% of the national population, the PWD community deserves a strategic place in national decision-making. President Tinubu should ensure that the NCPWD is adequately funded and held to account for the implementation of the Disability Act, and for liaising with policymakers, the private sector, civil society and development partners to comply with provisions of the Act. An annual stock-taking summit highlighting achievements and gaps is highly recommended. The NCPWD, Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), House Committee on Disability Issues, and interested development partners need to collaborate to develop a national monitoring and evaluation framework and time-bound implementation plan. These will set out clear indices to gauge progress on achievements on an annual basis.
  4. Institutionalise some of the GESI pronouncements and commitments by the president. This will include initiating executive bills on areas like electoral quotas for women and gender-based budgeting.
  5. Involve sub-nationals – The Federal Government needs to engage the governors through the National Economic Council and the Nigeria Governors Forum to promote active ownership and coordination in implementing the country’s development plans, such as the Nigeria Agenda 2050, the National Social Protection Policy, the National Youth Policy, the National Gender Policy, and the NDP, among others.
  6. Deploy stronger political will to tackle poverty – National development plans like Agenda 2050 aim to, among other things, lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030. The endemic nature of poverty in Nigeria demands fundamental restructuring of the society’s economic, political, and social conditions. The government needs to focus its arsenal and concentrate efforts around actualising the lofty goals of Agenda 2050.44
  7. Harness economic sectors – With a gross domestic product projected at $3.3 trillion and a population of 399 million people by 2050, the gulf between the reality of Nigeria’s economy and its undisputed potential remains wide – but the potential is achievable. By driving agriculture and agro-based industries, technology and innovation, solid minerals, our vibrant creative sector, and investment in power, Nigeria can harness the energies of its entrepreneurial youth (a fact well proven), women, and other citizens to deliver the promise of our future.
  8. Roll out a package of social protection that concretely cushions hardship deepened by the administration’s reforms. It is important to prioritise the stated vision of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, which is: “to have social protection systems that are proactive, humane, inclusive and sustainable for the improvement and general welfare of the people.” Special attention must be given to women, youths, PWDs and other marginalised groups that are disproportionately affected by the negative impact of reforms.
  9. Tackle insecurity – Finally, insecurity challenges in Nigeria are rapidly stagnating the development and progress of the country’s core productive and sensitive sectors and further deepening the marginalisation of women, youths, PWDs and other historically excluded groups. Development and insecurity hardly coexist. The government needs to do more to curb the menace of insecurity and its impact on the marginalised.

In conclusion, Nigeria has long struggled with fragmentation and inequality, and the marginalisation of women, youth, and PWDs. Despite numerous inclusion policies, implementation has always often fallen short. President Tinubu has made some commitments on gender and social inclusion and showed some promise in his first year, but he risks repeating past failures. Beyond the ‘right speak’, concrete actions and accountability are crucial to ensure meaningful progress and full participation of marginalised groups in governance, and to ensure that no one is truly left behind by 2050.

• Dr. Ejiro Joyce Otive-Igbuzor is a Gender and Social Inclusion expert and a Monitoring and Evaluation specialist.


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21. Yiaga Africa (2023). Elections and Youth Representation in the legislature accessed 26th March 2024
22. Accenture (2020). Enabling Change, chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/
23. Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning. 2021. “National Development Plan (NDP), 2021–2025.”
24. Thomas-Odia, I. (2023) Meeting quota for women in government would have been a legacy for Tinubu. The Guardian. Available at:
25. Doris Uzoka-Anite, Iman Suleiman Ibrahim, Uju Kennedy Ohaneye, Nkeiruka Onyejocha, Betta Edu, Hannatu Musawa, Lola Ade John, Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure, and Dr. Jamila Ibrahim. Of these women, Betta Edu has been suspended for misappropriation in her Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.
26. They include the appointment of Adepoju Wura-Ola as the substantive Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service. When her tenure ended in February 2024, Tinubu appointed Mrs. Kemi Nandap as the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, effective from 1 March. CEOs of NIMC and NIPOST are also women.
27. Mrs. Salma Anas, Special Adviser on Health; Former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, Special Adviser on Policy Coordination; Special Adviser on Energy, Mrs. Olu Verheijen.
28. Ejekwonyilo, A. (2024, May 5). INTERVIEW: How Tinubu administration is supporting Chibok girls, addressing women empowerment – Minister,
29. Audu, U. (2024, May 24). Minister withdraws objection to mass wedding of orphans in Niger, offers donations to the brides-to-be,
30. Oludiran, O. (2024 April 22). Inclusivity: CJID Rates Tinubu Government Low in Women Empowerment, Participation,
31. CJID (2024). Gender Analysis of the 2024 budget,
32. Please access a list of young ministers in Tinubu’s cabinet on this link:
33. It is important to note that ‘youths’ are also female and male. This section describes the administration’s achievements on economic inclusion targeting females and males.
34. Shaping the Future of Nigeria’s Digital Workforce,
35. Small Business Insights (2024, May 13). 3MTT program: 1,144 devices to empower women in tech,
36. Nda-Isaiah J, FG Approves 2% Youth Quota, Investment Fund (26th Mar 2024) Available at accessed 26th March 2024
37. State House (2024). In Detail: The Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Act, 2024,,a%20chairman%20and%20a%20secretary
38. Sulaimon, A. (2024 May 3). Only 1m of 3.6m applicants will get N50,000 grant – FG,
39. According to Presidential spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale.
40. Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, and Poverty Alleviation (2023 November 17th, 2023). FG Launch Empowerment Program For Millions Of Persons With Disabilities Across The Country,
41. John, B. (2024, December 4). Reps to Mainstream Disability Inclusion in 2024 Budget,
42. Agenda 2050, 3
43. Interviewed in the course of developing this paper.
44. accessed 28th March 2024