After overtaking India in 2017 as the world’s poverty capital, international charity, Oxfam, says, Nigeria has been revealed to have extreme poor people of about 94.4 million people unhappy people added in just six months.
India’s destitute poor number some 70 million out of a total population of 1.36 billion which amounts to 5.124 percent of India’s total population of 1.36 billion.
Nigeria’s 94.5 million poor people constitute 47.2 percent of our current estimated population of 200 million. Nearly a half of our population is virtually condemned to the nightmare of the Middle Ages.
With critical analysis, it has been discovered that poverty has strong regional and gender dimensions, which can be seen from the angle of women and vulnerable groups.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics data, the North is the poorest region in the country, with Sokoto having the worst record of 81.2 percent.
Adamawa and Gombe both have a poverty rate of 74.2 percent. Lagos and the South fare better. Our commercial capital has a poverty rate of 48.6 percent while Bayelsa has 47 percent. Poverty in our context is defined in terms of those who live below the threshold of US$1.90 or NGN684 per day.
Poverty is not a sign of virtue; it is, in fact, a curse. Neither is it a situation determined by our destiny or DNA.
Looking at the causes of poverty from another angle, it has been discovered that it is the failure of governance and inability of Nigerian government to generate those public goods that promote collective welfare for the vast majority.
It is an irony that Nigeria is richly endowed by an embarrassment of natural resources and at the same time have a current status as the world capital of poverty . From history, cetiris paribus, Nigeria ought to be OPEC’s sixth biggest oil exporter and Africa’s biggest economy by far.
Much of the current intervention programmes aimed at poverty alleviation are, at best, amateurish; at worst, they are mere vehicles for corruption and rent-seeking.
Nigeria need a bolder and more visionary approach anchored on peace, the rule of law and social justice.
Nigeria need to launch an ambitious programme of Hope: rallying our people together while investing heavily in human capital and public works on the scale of the Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1930s America. These programmes must also be implemented without recourse to party-politics and the shameless clannishness that defines public policy in Nigeria today.