The National Bureau of Statistics recently disclosed what most of us already knew- 133 million Nigerians are poor.
It is instructive to note that in its 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey released in Abuja the NBS said the figure represents 63 percent of the nation’s population.
It added that the poverty index is mostly experienced in rural areas especially in the north with women and children being the most affected.
The survey was conducted by the NBS, the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).
It was gathered that the measure used to calculate the figure was based on Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) with five components of health, living standard, education, security, and unemployment.
Many Nigerians were not surprised because the indices have been showing for some time. The galloping inflation and the insecurity in the rural areas pushed many Nigerians into extreme poverty.
The ravaging insecurity in the north due to the activities of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents is more prevalent in rural areas. In rural areas, their main means of livelihood is agriculture and the insecurity has stopped most of them from going to their farms.
The huge number of poor people and the 20 million out-of-school children is a recipe for disaster. It will have a huge effect on the insecurity in the country. Bad elements have a ready pool of people to recruit for their nefarious activities.
Expectedly I was waiting for our political parties to play politics with the poverty statistics but I have not seen any so far. The reason is that the poverty figures are evenly distributed in states between the two major parties. Sokoto and Bayelsa have the highest number of poor people in Nigeria and they are governed by the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP) while Jigawa, Kebbi, and Gombe are governed by the All Progressive Congress ( APC) completing the top 5 states with the poorest people in Nigeria.
The question I ask is, does Nigeria have any business being on the World Poverty Index list? Bayelsa for example is the smallest state in Nigeria with 8 local governments. It collects the 13 percent derivation for oil-producing states and yet is second on the poorest state list in Nigeria. I think Bayelsa’s case is a mystery. It is just a case of poor leadership, simple.
No doubt, leaders at all levels have all failed – pure and simple. How can a country with abundant human and natural resources even be on the poverty list? Every region in the country boasts mineral resources that can generate millions of dollars monthly. The gold in Zamfara can rival the gold in Sierra Leone and South Africa.
Niger State with its vast land can be an agriculture hub and feed the whole country comfortably. Dairy products got from cattle in Adamawa, Sokoto, and Katsina can be a money spinner. Coal from Enugu can generate electricity. A small state like Osun boasts gold, granite, columbite, talc, tantalite, and tourmaline.
Kaduna State boasts different minerals such as granite, laterite, gold, tin, columbite, tantalite, iron, manganese, garnet, beryllium, nickel, platinum, cobalt, and lithium.
The Niger Delta region boast of oil and gas and now states like Gombe and Bauchi states have joined the fray. We saw how Qatar used its oil money to build world-class stadiums and facilities for the World Cup and we also saw how the United Arab Emirates used its resources to turn its country into a tourist and holiday spot. Sometimes you ask if it’s the same oil we have with these two other countries.
The list of states with abundant natural resources is endless.
Nigeria has been cursed with bad leaders at all levels who only think about their pockets and the next election. We lack leaders with the fear of God, intellect, capacity, and vision.
Sadly we all concentrate on the federal government and forget about governors and state and federal lawmakers. We use the federal government as the whipping boys and the electorates excuse the incompetence of governors. This has to change.
As we approach the elections, this is pertinent. One man alone cannot change the country. Forget all the sweet promises you are hearing from the leading presidential candidates. No one man can change the fortunes of the country, that’s why we need to elect quality leaders from the local government chairman to the presidency. That is when you will begin the real change. Lifting millions out of poverty is a task that must be done.