BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Tackling high poverty rate in Nigeria

Poverty is the state of having few material possessions or little income. Poverty can have diverse social, economic, and political causes and effects.

According to a World Bank report, the number of poor persons in Nigeria will rise to 95.1 million in 2022. The number of poor people was 89 million in 2020 and would be 95.1 million in 2022. This means that 6.1 million more persons would have fallen beneath the poverty line between 2020 and 2022, a 6.7 percent increase.

With the projected 2022 figures, the number of poor persons in Nigeria has had a four-year increase of 14.7 percent from the 2018/19 figure of 82.1 million to the projected 95.1 million in 2022. It was stated that the poverty rate had been aided by the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the growing population.

We have unconsciously left what should be the mainstream of income with little or no cost to pursue white-collar jobs which are limited in numbers…

Obviously, it should be the problem of every responsible government to help curb the level of poverty in society by creating enabling environments to invest in various small and medium-scale enterprises.

We sincerely commend Nigeria’s aspiration to lift 100 million people out of poverty by 2030. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, about 4 in 10 Nigerians were living in extreme poverty, based purely on monetary measures.

Using the same population estimates as the 2018/19 Nigeria Living Standards Survey, this means that more than 80 million Nigerians were living in poverty before the pandemic, even without data from Borno State where the survey could not be fully carried out.

However, projections suggest that the combined effects of the Covid-19 crisis and natural population growth could leave 100 million people living below the national poverty line by 2022, rationalising the government’s ambitious poverty reduction aspirations.

Since Nigeria is home to the largest number of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa—the world’s poorest region—lifting Nigerians out of poverty is vital for “moving the needle” and reducing global poverty.

However, we want to affirm here that one vital avenue for Nigerians to come out of poverty is to embrace skills acquisition and agriculture. Embracing an attitude of looking inward rather than waiting for white-collar jobs will go a long way in bringing many out of the murky waters of poverty.

Agriculture will enable the youth to maximise the abundance of natural resources with little or no financial cost. It is unfortunate that most of our youth are migrating to urban cities to avoid engaging in agricultural activities.

In a country of over 200 million people with 40 percent of the population classified as youths below the age of 35 years, agriculture and SMEs can create meaningful employment opportunities that will stall the alarming talent drain across the country.

Agriculture and small-scale enterprises have the capacity to create opportunities for people to feed themselves and care for their families.

Nigeria cannot successfully eradicate poverty without directly tackling unemployment. And statistics available indicate that the unemployment rate in Nigeria has increased from 27.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020 to an estimated 33 percent in 2022. This is alarming!

Unemployment is undoubtedly a root cause of poverty. When people have no jobs, they get hungry and angry. They also become easy tools for criminal activities.

And unfortunately, many Nigerian youths would not want to soil their hands on the farm. We have unconsciously left what should be the mainstream of income with little or no cost to pursue white-collar jobs which are limited in numbers hence, indirectly escalating the poverty level in the country.

Read also: Easing poverty through education

Immigrants from Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, and other neighbouring countries are milking our income by the simple fact that they are the ones doing most of the farm work in the country. Our youths are deserting the villages in their numbers, leaving the farmlands uncultivated. And this is not a good development.

If we must swim out of the poverty waters overflowing our country, the Federal and state governments need to find ways to make farming attractive, especially to the youths who have a higher population.

We believe that going into farming and other small and medium-scale enterprises will massively help in curbing poverty in Nigeria.

Hence, we would want to encourage a move from the Federal Government to reintroduce farm settlements in each federal constituency to enhance the agricultural value chain, and an intentional plan on the ground to engage the youths in food processing.

There is a need for innovative technologies to be made to bear in our agricultural sector. We must change the narratives that associate farming with poverty to attract the youths into the sector. Modernised agriculture is the way forward to curbing the rising level of poverty in the land.

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