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Poverty on the Increase in Nigeria -By Raynia Okoro

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In layman’s terms, poverty refers to the state or condition in which people or communities lack the financial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living. In a state of poverty, one is unable to meet his/her basic needs which are the bare necessities for anyone’s survival. An impoverished family or individual might go without these basic necessities for days because of their inability to provide them. Basic needs like healthy food, clean water, proper housing, good medical attention, proper clothing, etc. Poverty is axiomatic in Nigeria. It is devoid of gender, religion, or ethnicity. Every nation may have a criteria for determining the poverty line. The poverty threshold, poverty limit, poverty line, or breadline is the minimum level of income deemed adequate in a particular country. In Nigeria, a person is considered poor when they have an ability of less than 134.4 thousand Naira (roughly 334 U.S dollars) per year. In 2020, World Bank using a standard poverty threshold of $3.20 per day puts Nigeria poverty rate at Seventy One percent. The poverty rate is too high for a country, who has one of the world’s highest economic growth rates, averaging 7.4% according to the Nigeria economic report that was released in July 2019 by the World Bank. Following the oil price collapse in 2014–2016, combined with negative production shocks, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate dropped to 2.7% in 2015. In 2016 during its first recession in 25 years, the economy contracted by 1.6%. Nationally, 43 percent of Nigerians (89 million people) live below the poverty threshold, while another 25 percent (53 million) are vulnerable. For a country with enormous wealth and a large population to support a large-scale organized system of activities, functions, procedures and institutions that directly or indirectly contribute to the transfer of goods and services on a large scale and at the right time, place, quantity and price from the original producers to the final consumers within local, regional, national or international economies (commerce), a well-developed economy, and plenty of natural resources such as oil, coal, and an agro-based economy, the level of poverty remains intolerable, it’s a eyesore because we have the available resources to curb the increase of poverty in Nigeria.

There are so many factors contributing to the increase in the rate of poverty in Nigeria. One of the factors is unemployment. Unemployment is the level of joblessness in an economy, often measured as a percentage of the workforce. Youths are unable to find a high-paying or gainful employment which is appalling because our population supports commerce. Underemployment has been a scourge in the Nigeria economy as wages are not in tandem with years of experience and skills. The population is growing faster than the economy, so there are not enough white-collar jobs. Many Nigerian youths are not adequately educated for the available jobs. Their inability to find a suitable job results in poverty which in turn results in a dwindling standard of living.

Secondly, Corruption, which has been the bane of the Nigeria Economy. Corruption increases poverty through a decrease in economy growth. “The contradiction of rising poverty in a rapidly expanding economy has made Nigerian commentators to support the general hypothesis that corruption leads to poverty, or at least contributes to it substantially”. Nigeria is the 150 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries, according to the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. A new report by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has revealed how “widespread and systemic corruption in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) especially in the education, health and water sectors are plunging millions of Nigerians further into poverty.”

According to the report, “Budget fraud, procurement fraud, embezzlement of funds among other illegal actions, lead to failure in the delivery of services including education, water and health. People living in poor neighborhoods have suffered so much that they consider poor service delivery as being good enough.” The report showed that corruption contributes to poverty and consequential suffering of people living in poor neighborhoods. It noted that 57.30 per cent of people living in poor neighborhoods were youths between 18 and 35 years old. Poor people, it says, are victims and not perpetrators of corruption in the health, education and water sectors. Embezzlement of funds occurs when someone takes money or assets that were entrusted to them and uses them for a different purpose than for what they were intended. For example, funds allocated to health and water Sector being embezzled means it’s been used for another purpose (most times for a less significant purpose). It could have been used to improve the standard of living of the people.

Other factors which serves as a barrier to poverty eradication includes poor education system, poor governance, global shocks (such as THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC), global recession income inequality, and a high level of illiteracy among youths (the work force) which does not allow access to the necessary information needed for innovation and technological advancement in the country and many others.

A further increase of poverty could be curbed, if we take the appropriate measures to eradicate poverty in our country, Nigeria. To appropriately deal with poverty headlong. The aforementioned causes must be taken into cognizance and they should be prioritized to secure a higher standard of living and entire state of wellbeing.

OKORO T. RAYNIA,

DELTA STATE UNIVERSITY (OLEH CAMPUS).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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