BusinessDay

Is Nigeria’s poverty artificial or natural?

Poverty is easier to detect or acknowledge than to describe or define. Yet, it can be defined in the real sense as a situation in which an individual’s or family’s resources are insufficient to provide a socially acceptable level of life.

In every country of the world, poverty exists, although the rate differs from country to country. This implies that poverty is not only for Nigeria or, in particular, developing countries. It has been a plague affecting both developed and developing countries for ages.

World vision report shows that over 10 percent of people in the United States, as of 2019, are poor. According to the World Bank, South Sudan has an 82.3 percent poverty rate, Burundi has a 64.9 percent poverty rate, and Central African Republic has a 62 percent poverty rate.

Nigeria’s poverty rate has skyrocketed, making it world poverty headquarters in 2018, according to report. Since its independence in 1960, Nigeria has faced several social and financial changes ranging from recession in economic activities, inflation, civil unrest, and displacements of significant population size to deterioration of publicly provided services.

This, in effect, has implications not only on health but also on economic and social impact, increasing the food insecurity issues in the country and raising the poverty rate

In addition, natural disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic further strained the already poverty stinking country. Like other countries, Nigeria experienced several waves of COVID-19, which affected various economic activities. This, in effect, has implications not only on health but also on economic and social impact, increasing the food insecurity issues in the country and raising the poverty rate.

Nigeria’s poverty rate has thus grown into a giant monster despite the wealth of resources in the country. Despite impressive economic growth and stabilisation witnessed in the decades preceding 2016, with an annual economic growth rate of 12.8 percent in 1990, 7.61 percent in 1996, 10.35 percent in 2003, 7.84 percent in 2010, and 6.31 percent in 2014, though 2016 growth rate was -1.62 percent accompanied by weak recovery of 0.8 percent growth rate in 2017. Nigeria was classified as one of the world’s poorest countries, with a GDP per capita of $2,175.67 in 2016, which is low compared with other developing countries.

Although Nigeria’s GDP increased by 3.98 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2021, marking the country’s sixth consecutive quarter of growth, despite the country’s continued recovery from the pandemic crisis that wreaked havoc on the country’s oil sector.

However, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2019 report showed that 40.1 percent of the population was impoverished. In other words, 4 out of 10 Nigerians had real per capita spending of less than N137,430 each year. This equates to roughly 82.9 million Nigerians living in poverty, according to national measures. It’s worth noting that this figure does not include the state of Borno.

By 2022, statistics show an increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty to approximately 90 million. This implies that almost half of her population still is wallowing in abject poverty.

Furthermore, in Africa, Nigeria is one of the few countries that experienced a rising inflation rate as income fell, making it the seventh country with the highest inflation rate. Between 2020 and 2021, the “inflation shock” forced nearly 8 million Nigerians into poverty.

Read also: Five charts that mirror Nigeria – poverty crisis

In February 2022, Nigeria’s annual inflation rate rose to 15.7 percent, up from 15.6 percent the previous month. There has also been a lot of inflationary pressure on food (17.1%). As a result, after four years of high inflation, Nigeria has been unable to maintain the decrease in inflation seen in November 2021.

Due to a lack of social protection, the poor and vulnerable are disadvantaged. Most Nigerians live below the national poverty line of $1.25 per day. Many households have adapted their lifestyles to deal with decreasing incomes by lowering their food consumption. These negative welfare impacts have been exacerbated by high inflation.

Furthermore, households in Nigeria are not only poor; they also face significant disparities in assets (such as education and health), control over public resources, and access to essential services, as well as widespread insecurity.

The degree of poverty is primarily determined by average income and income disparity. Poverty is reduced when average income rises, while it is increased when inequality increases.

As a result, changes in poverty have two components: the growth component, which is related to a change in mean income, and the other is the inequality component, which is associated with a change in inequality.

The magnitude of these two components determines the relative sensitivity of poverty reduction to growth and inequality.

Inequality thus has a substantial impact on poverty. Nigerians experience inequality in income, health, education, access to land or property, and employment, among others.

The Gini coefficient, used to capture income inequality, which stood at 38.68 percent in 1986, rose to 44.95 percent in 1992, worsened to 46.50 percent in 1996, and stood at 48.83 percent in 2010, shows that the gap between the haves and have-nots has continued to widen. In recent years, the Gini coefficient has risen above 52 percent.

Furthermore, the unemployment rate has increased in the country. The NBS report shows that unemployment and underemployment stood at 33.3 percent and 22.8 percent. Also, youth unemployment and underemployment were 42.5 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

In a country blessed with abundant human and natural resources, poverty is still rising daily as millions of people are pushed below the poverty line due to corruption, bad governance, and over-dependence on oil, etc. Thus, poverty in Nigeria can be seen as artificial and not natural.

In the light of the foregoing, since we have been able to establish that poverty in the country is man-made; what it means is that the problem can be eradicated through creative solutions from the various levels of government in Nigeria.

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