Trading Words Rather Than Solving Nigeria’s Multi-Dimensional Poverty Problem

Trading Words Rather Than Solving Nigeria’s Multi-Dimensional Poverty Problem

Over the years there used to be known, three classes of people in Nigeria, the rich, the middle class and the poor but that have contrasted to only two classes; the rich and the poor, with the middle class completely obliterated. Little wonder then when the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics said 63 percent or over

Over the years there used to be known, three classes of people in Nigeria, the rich, the middle class and the poor but that have contrasted to only two classes; the rich and the poor, with the middle class completely obliterated. Little wonder then when the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics said 63 percent or over 133 million Nigerians live in multidimensional poverty. Meaning these several millions of people below poverty line. Factors responsible for this are not far-fetched and they include unemployment, corruption. Poor education, out of school children, badly managed economy, rising inflation, unsteady exchange rate, a lack of opportunity, lack of empowerment and a lack of security.

Piqued by the poor verdict on Nigeria’s worsening poverty situation, the federal government through the Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Mr. Clement Agba, on Wednesday threw the ball in the state governments’ court blaming the state governors for the rising rate of poverty across the country.

The Minister zeroed in on what he called governors’ misplaced priority by putting emphasis on the construction of infrastructure such as bridges and airports in cities rather than improving the lives of the people in rural communities. He said 72 per cent of the nation’s poor reside in rural communities yet the governors have abandoned them to expend state resources on the capital cities.

“The governors are basically functioning in their state capitals. And democracy that we preach about is delivering the greatest goods to the greatest number of people. And from our demography, it shows that the greatest number of our people live in rural areas, but the governors are not working in the rural areas.

‘“Right now, 70 per cent of our people live in rural areas. They produce 90 percent of what we eat. And unfortunately, 60 percent of what they produce is lost due to post harvest loss and it does not get to the market.

“On the Federal Government’s side, we are doing our best. But we need to say that rather than governors continuing to compete to take loans to build airports that are not necessary, where they have other airports so close to them, or governors now competing to build flyovers all over the place, we appeal that they should concentrate on building rural roads so that the farmer can at least get their products to the market.”

These blistering remarks only reinforce the findings of the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to the effect that over 133 million Nigerians live in poverty, adding that the figure represents 63 per cent of the nation’s population. In its “Nigeria Multidimensional Poverty Index”, the NBS said over half of the population who are poor cook with dung, wood, or charcoal, rather than cleaner energy.

The minister advised state governors to improve basic infrastructural facilities that will enhance the quality of lives of the people before they begin to think of “how to go to the moon” and build flyovers and airports in the state capital.

That’s like pouring cold water on State governors but in another interpretation, it could be buck passing. In Nigeria, so much power and resources are concentrated at the centre which is the federal government with the states taking a cue from developments at the centre. The present vertical Revenue Allocation Formula is: Federal Government 52.68%; State Governments 26.72%; Local Governments 20.60%.

A United Nations document of 1998 defined poverty as a “denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to; not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households, and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living on marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation”

The above aptly captures the situation in Nigeria with more and more slipping below the poverty line daily. Salaries are being owed workers in many states of the federation while inflation has whittled down the value of the Naira in the hands of Nigerians. Purchasing power of citizens is grossly impaired while begging on the streets has become a fashionable way of survival in the citizens.

The governors will not accept responsibility for the parlous state of affairs in the country, reacting to the Minister’s salvo, Governor Nyesom Wike said the Minister lacks understanding on how governors plan projects in their various states.

Speaking during the commissioning of one of his projects in the State on Thursday, inauguration of the 13.86km long Rumuodogo 1 and 2 road in Oluua – Rumuodogo community in Emohua Local Government Area said the Minister was wrong when he said that governors were the causes of poverty because they focused on building flyovers, airports and other projects in the state capitals, while neglecting to invest in rural communities to directly uplift the living standard of the people.

“The Minister said governors are the problem, they don’t do rural roads, and I ask him where and where have you been. You just sit there (Abuja), you’ve not been to anywhere to check whether rural roads are being done or not.”

Governor Wike pointed out that the development plan of his administration is holistic with critical infrastructure delivered not only in the state capital, but across the 23 Local Government Areas.

The governor advised the minister to take time out by leaving Abuja on a visit to different States, especially, Rivers State, emphasising that there is quantum of projects in rural communities with the Rumuodogo road inclusive, which have improved the socioeconomic status of rural communities.

Knowing how politicians behave, more governors are likely to hit back at the Minister’s comments in the coming days and weeks especially since we are now in the season of politics.

But Nigerians are not interested in the trading of words, they are concerned about what will bring significant improvement in their standard of living. Nigerians want to see government at whatever level enunciate a strategy and plan that will reverse the unfavourable statistics on poverty and restore higher percentage of the population to above poverty level not the trading of words at the twilight of the administration.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun

Posts Carousel

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Latest Posts

Top Authors

Most Commented

Featured Videos