World Bank report on poverty in Nigeria

All for one, One for all

It is indeed a shame that for all her Gross National Income (GNI), Nigeria would be rated so highly in global poverty index.

The recent assessment by the World Bank on the situation of poverty in the world, where it ranked Nigeria third among world’s ten countries with extreme poor citizens is so worrisome and has once again provided reason to query what the government is doing about the endemic poverty as well as the usefulness of the recent rebasing of the Nigerian economy. This newspaper feels that the woeful result of the World Bank report is a very necessary wake up call on the Nigerian government to rethink its systems and policies that have continued to increase poverty in the country.

From the assessment, the World Bank established that Nigeria with about 170 million population falls among countries with extreme poverty whose over 70% population live on $1.25 (N200) or even less per day.  Specifically, the report revealed that 7% of the 1.2 billion people living below poverty line in the world are Nigerians. The report stated thus: “The fact is that two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor are concentrated in just five countries: India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). If you add another five countries: Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya, the total grows to 80 per cent of the world’s extreme poor.” Our survey discovered that the World bank ranked these countries based on their population and their share of the 1.2 billion extreme poor people in the world thus: India (33%), China (13%), Nigeria (7%), Bangladesh (6%), DRC (5%), Indonesia (4%), Pakistan (3%), Tanzania (3%), Ethiopia (2%) an Kenya (1%).

For this very poor result to be the fortune of a country that was recently rebased and declared by the national bureau of statistics (NBS) to have a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $510 billion (over N8o trillion), and as such the largest economy in Africa and the 26th largest economy in the world, is grossly condemnable and most unacceptable. It is indeed a shame that for all her Gross National Income (GNI), Nigeria would be rated so highly in global poverty index. We feel the story should have been the reverse. It is so saddening to note that less than 10% of the country’s population amasses and controls over 90% of the country’s wealth and resources, causing so much poverty and leaving so many citizens dying of hunger and disease. The consequence has since manifested in the high rate of crime and insecurity in the country. This is rather most unfortunate. 

Among the causes of the endemic poverty in Nigeria as stated by the World bank report include harmful economic and political systems, national conflict and violence, human rights abuses, weak government effectiveness and efficiency, weak respect for rule of law, weak control of corruption, environmental conditions and changes, and population growth and changes. All of these are easily identified with Nigeria. But we feel that none of them would account for acute poverty in Nigeria as that concerning weak control of corruption. There is an incredible high rate of corruption in Nigeria, which has seen Transparency International (TI) ranking her equally very poorly in the global corruption index. 

Everyday, there are reports of indictments of Nigerians in government and leadership offices and positions for misappropriation of public funds. But there are no such reports of prompt arrests and prosecutions of these corrupt government functionaries by the government. The few that are jailed and disgraced to serve as deterrence to others are soon after their jail terms accorded state pardons with fanfare. It is sad that rather than fight corruption by prosecuting indicted officials the government hound and harass people who dare to expose corruption in the country. We feel that the root cause of high poverty in Nigeria is the high corruption among government officials and leaders. Hence, we also feel the solution will be found when government stands up against corruption in the country.

The resources that are misappropriated could remarkably reduce poverty in Nigeria through providing employment, revamping the industrial sector, improving agriculture and rural development, enhancing the provision of healthcare, education, physical infrastructure and various basic social amenities as befits a country that prides itself as the sixth biggest member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting countries (OPEC). We therefore demand that the government, in spite of itself, should declare a state of emergency and conscious war against corruption in Nigeria. Also, let the government lead in expressing due respect for rule of law with the aim of eliminating impunity and lawlessness in official places. Then, all indicted corrupt government officials, both those still in service and those that have been eased out of the reach of the law should be brought to justice. We feel these will provide reasonable bedrock to redress the shameful high level of poverty in Nigeria. 

Credit: Daily Independent   Source:

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