In this issue of the journal, we present four articles that are rather insightful and, in many respects, thought provoking as it relates to access to finance, debt levels in Nigeria as well as unemployment. The first article in this volume entitled “On the Effect of Financial Development on Unemployment in Nigeria: Do Measures of Financial Development Matter? The author opined governments globally aim to provide decent employment for its citizenry. However, this goal has become unattainable in many countries, particularly in developing countries such as Nigeria. Using various financial development indicators and employing ARDL as a method of estimation, the authors in their empirical analysis found that only financial system deposit to GDP has the potential to reduce the unemployment rate in the short-run and the long-run. Other financial indicators such as credit to private sector, financial liquidity, financial efficiency and financial stability only reduce the unemployment rate in the short run.
The second article entitled “The impact of public debt on investment: Evidence from Nigeria” The author examined the upward trend in the debt profile of Nigeria and the corresponding increase in the volume of investment as well as the recent decline in foreign direct investment inflow into Nigeria. In this study, the author specifically investigated the impact of the components of public debts on the various forms of investment in Nigeria both in the short-run and the long-run using the Autoregressive Distributed Lag (ARDL) framework over the period, 1981-2016. The empirical results revealed domestic debt improves both private and public investment in the short-run and long-run that is, domestic debt crowds-in both private and public investment but it does not attract FDI. The results also showed that external debt crowds-in private investment both in the short-run and the long-run; crowds-out public investment; and does not influence FDI.
The third article entitled “Financial liberalization and Small and Medium Enterprise Performance in Nigeria” from 1970 - 2017 was examined using the Ordinary Least Square (OLS) technique. It specifically analyzed the impact of financial liberalization on the performance of SMEs in the wholesale and retail trade sector where SMEs are commonly found in Nigeria. The periods before and after the liberalization policy in 1986 were compared to determine whether the SMEs performed better in the post-policy era. A financial liberalization index was constructed and used as explanatory variable alongside other variables. Empirical results revealed that financial liberalization had a significant positive impact on the performance of SMEs in the wholesale and retail trade sector. Other interesting findings can be found in this article.
In the fourth article entitled “Financial inclusion in a developing country: An assessment of the Nigerian journey the authors eloquently set out to investigate whether the financial inclusion goals set in 2012 by the National Financial Inclusion Strategy committee to reduce the levels of financial exclusion has been achieved. The findings reveal that, there have been sensible gains in increasing the levels of financial inclusion on a macro-perspective: more men and women are gaining access to financial services and products. However, a breakdown of the financial inclusion data on geo-political arrangements tells a different story. Financial inclusion in Nigeria is not even, with financial exclusion rates significantly higher in North East and North West Nigeria, where exclusion rates are above 60%. Southern geo-political regions have better financial exclusion rates, with financial exclusion rates below 35%, In general, women tend to have higher financial exclusion rates than men, rural population have a higher financial exclusion rate than urban areas.