Sadly, Nigeria contributed three million people to global extreme poverty, according to the World Bank in its latest 2022 Poverty and Prosperity Report. The report says the country is “home to a large share of the global extreme poor.”
At the beginning of this year, there was bad news that the number of poor Nigerians had increased to 91 million. The World Bank had estimated that an additional one million people were pushed into poverty in Nigeria from June to November 2021.
The chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Asue Ighodalo, had lamented that 91 million Nigerians were afflicted by the ‘poverty virus,’ which he described as deadly and infectious. Alarmingly, the figure was nearly half of the country’s estimated population of about 214 million at the time.
The poverty figure had jumped from 83 million, the number of poor Nigerians given by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in May 2020. This number was from its 2019 report on poverty and inequality in Nigeria.
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Interestingly, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his national address following the 2020 #EndSARS protests and the resulting anarchy, had boasted that “No Nigerian government in the past has methodically and seriously approached poverty-alleviation like we have done.”
The reality was that there were still too many millions of poor Nigerians. This suggested that his administration had not done enough, and needed to do much more, to tackle mass poverty.
Also, in September 2020, when Buhari inaugurated a National Steering Committee to oversee the development of the ‘Nigeria Agenda 2050 and Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP),’ he mentioned the objective of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty “within the next 10 years.”
Two years after, can the authorities show that there has been a reduction in the number of poor Nigerians? The truth is that the ‘poverty virus’ is spreading fast, and many Nigerians are groaning under increasingly difficult socio-economic conditions.
According to the United Nations (UN), extreme poverty is “a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information.” Importantly, the international organisation adds that “It depends not only on income but also on access to services.”
So, the issues that need to be addressed in fighting poverty in the country are clear enough. What remains unclear is why it seems so difficult for the authorities to win the war against poverty. There is no doubt that poverty is winning.