Former minister of Education and presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) Obiageli Ezekwesili has said that over 87 million Nigerians are now living in poverty and could not afford to spend an average of N700 per day.
Ezekwesili while speaking at the second edition of The Osasu Show symposium yesterday in Abuja noted that poverty has become so prevalent in Nigeria due to lack of inclusive growth.
She explained that poverty becomes prevalent when there is no growth in the society, and when there is some growth in the society and the growth is not inclusive. She said that when this type of growth is not affecting everybody, then people are going to slip from earning little income to becoming poor.
According to her, Nigeria already has some 87 million of such people who survive on less than N700 per day. This according to her is responsible for high mortality rate, which is above average level on the African continent.
“Now because of poverty, we have the infant mortality rate that is above the average in Africa, we have child mortality rate that is higher than the average in Africa, and we have maternal mortality rate that is also above the average in Africa,” she stated.
The former minister however pledged that her first priority, if elected president would be to tackle corruption by linking the menace to human capita development.
“My number one priority is to tackle poverty, we cannot have almost half of our population in tenacious poverty and feel comfortable, that definitely is a time bomb that stands in the way of others who think that they have escaped poverty,” Ezekwesili stated.
“Because of poverty, we are in a kind of crisis where life is cheap, and so all of what we see that are security challenge, as terrorism is actually the outcome of people who not having a stake in the society and feeling abandoned by their government are pledging allegiance to any other groups of people who come and sell any idea to them,” she added.
She however noted that government must urgently arrest the situation and lift the over 45 per cent of the population out of poverty.