Nigerians Poorer Contrary To Buhari’s Claim

Nigerians Poorer Contrary To Buhari’s Claim
  • As pandemic pushes 100m people into extreme poverty

charles ebi

The UN data revealed that 74% of the country’s population survive on less than $3.20 or N1,312 a day. That means according to international standards, more than 7 persons out of every 10 Nigerians are poor.

The recent SDG 1 figures present Nigerians as poorer than their fellow Africans in four other African countries from the North, South, East and West of the continent, namely Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana.

In his Democracy Day speech on June 12, 2021, President Buhari claimed that his administration has lifted 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years. However, the Sustainable Development Report says the contrary. In fact, data showed that more people slipped into poverty within this period, either using the $1.90 or $3.20/day poverty threshold.

Nigeria’s poverty headcount ratio at $3.20 rose from 68.7% in 2018 to 70% in 2019. It further increased to 73.22% in 2020. These increasing incidents of poverty, particularly in the Buhari administration and the government’s denial of the same casts doubt on its ambitious plans to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

Not only this, just like the country did not achieve the Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) poverty targets by 2015, it might also be one of the countries that may not attain goal one of the SDGs by 2023, given its ever-increasing unemployment and inflation rate – two economic factors that prevent access to income and devalue people’s hard-earned income.

Between 2010 and 2020, Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose five-fold, from 6.4% in 2010 to 33.3% in 2020. According to a report by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, the rise in the number of unemployed people is expected to push more people into the poverty trap, going forward.

Already, inflation has pushed millions of Nigerians below the poverty threshold. The World Bank revealed this in its recent Nigeria Development Update report, noting that inflationary pressure pushed about 7 million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.

The foregoing evidence from data suggests that unemployment and inflation contribute to extreme poverty in Nigeria, and together pose a major challenge for Nigeria in ending poverty goal one of the SDGs. This is aside from the impact the COVID-19 may have had not only on Nigeria but the global community in achieving the SDGs. Acknowledging the effect of the global pandemic on the SDGs, the United Nations Secretary General noted that “the current crisis is threatening decades of development gains,… and throwing progress on the SDGs even further off track”.

To get back on track to achieve Goal 1 of the SDGs, the government may need to adopt more effective economic measures, particularly in reducing the unemployment rate and inflationary pressure.

In a related development, the World Bank Group has called on lower-income countries to prioritise concessional financing and avoid the high interest rate financing that has become increasingly problematic.

According to a statement issued by the Word Bank Group President, David Malpass gave the advice when he visited Sudan.

Malpass said, “The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in increased poverty rates again after decades of steady decline. It has pushed nearly 100 million people into extreme poverty, with several hundred million more becoming poor, many of them in middle-income countries.

As of mid-2021, over half of IDA countries, the world’s poorest countries, are in external debt distress or at high risk of it.

This situation could worsen if commodity prices are volatile, interest rates increase, or investors lose confidence in emerging markets.

This is also a time for proactive debt management to reprofile payments while international interest rates remain low.

In many places around the world, poverty is rising, living standards and literacy rates are falling, and past gains on gender equality, nutrition and health are sliding backwards.

For some countries, the debt burden was unsustainable before the crisis and is getting worse. Rather than gaining ground, the poor are being left behind in a global tragedy of inequality”.

Malpass said that digital solutions can increase competition in product markets and enable people to sell services online, connecting them to national and global markets.

He said, “Supporting this transformation requires many actions at scale: investing in digital infrastructure, eliminating monopolies in the telecom sector, providing national IDs, and creating an enabling regulatory environment”.

The digital revolution can also transform the public sector. For example, it allows a radical rethink of safety nets systems.

Across the world, we are seeing programmes move from in-kind and cash delivery to digital delivery, direct to people’s bank accounts or visible on their phones”

The group president called for the strengthening of education and health systems as he noted that the World Bank Group was positioned to support countries while mobilising the private sector.

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