By Maryam Abdullahi Jibrin
Undoubtedly, the Nigerian economy has taken a more definite path that leads to progress and prosperity for the vast majority of our people. However, our national aspirations — equity, justice, integrity etc. must leap off the pages of cold print and become realizable objectives. Foremost, poverty must be addressed and reduced to a minimal level.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) first agenda is poverty reduction. UN viewed poverty as one of the greatest enemies of humanity.
One of the surest ways to fight poverty is to build a strong economy that emphasizes job creation, an ever-increasing private sector and a problem–solving public service.
Nigeria is blessed with potentials. Now almost a century after independence, those potentials have turned into vast opportunities for all.
The reality of our multicultural economy is no longer a point to mourn but one to turn to maximum advantage with which to build all the other sectors. Therefore, there is a need to formulate institutional, financial policy and macroeconomic support strategies to heal the economy.
Nigeria’s policy on poverty eradication must be unassailable if we are to get out of the economic predicament that stifles our initiatives. It means that our policy and decision-making processes must touch the heart of the problem. Only then can we have an effective solution — one that focuses on the needs of the most vulnerable segment of the polity and balances them with the growth imperatives of the economy.
Against the background of both the local and global requirements, it became necessary to review the structural, operational and regulatory frameworks of the nation’s Poverty Reduction Plan. Since 1999, a set of policy directions and reforms have been implemented under a national development policy.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (2012) report, 112.519 million out of an estimated 163 million of Nigeria’s population live in relative poverty. Relative poverty is the comparison of the living standard of people living in a given society within a specified period. Apart from the relative poverty index, Nigeria failed all poverty tests using all poverty measurement standards.
The poverty measure puts the country’s poverty profile at 60.9 per cent, the dollar per day measure puts the poverty profile at 61.2 per cent, and the subjective measure puts the poverty profile at 93.9 per cent (NBS 2012). The Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.423 also ranks Nigeria 142 out of 169 countries in 2010 with an estimated GNI per capita of $2156, life expectancy at birth of 48.4 years, Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) of 0.368 (UNDP, 2010).
The average Nigerian is a poor man. Nigeria is a nation of riches and poverty, wealth in the hands of few and extreme/abject poverty at the doorsteps of many. The divergence between Nigeria’s economic indicators, macroeconomic variables and reality is a source of concern. The reality is that people die because they cannot afford three square meals a day and access primary public healthcare. These problems are traceable to the weak governance that the nation has experienced over the years due to a combination of inefficient service delivery and inconsistent policy settings.
As strange as this may sound, this goes on side-by-side with an ostentatious display of wealth by the privileged few.
In an attempt to proffer a solution to the foregoing problems, it is therefore imperative to determine the role of economic growth, agriculture and quality of governance in explaining the vast differences in poverty in Nigeria. Thus, the government should introduce initiatives to revamp education, infrastructure, fight corruption, end insecurity and ensure political instability nationwide.
Maryam Abdullahi Jibrin writes from Bauchi. She can be reached via email@example.com.