Nigeria is said to be the poverty headquarter of Africa. It is also reported,over 90.8 million Nigerians are living below poverty line. In another shocking report by brooking institution, every Nigerian becomes destitute or poor each passing minute. With these glaring nay convincing reports, we need to worry about the high rate of poverty in the country. Poverty is a state of lack, hopelessness and pauperization. The population of Nigeria has hit more 200 million with two-third living in an abject poverty. No wonder, the youths who constituted over 60% of the population have remained idle and sources of security threat. Successive and present administrations have come up with various policies to eliminate extreme poverty in the country. Unfortunately, however, nothing much has been achieved. Instead the poverty rate is raising exponentially.
Poverty increased and deepen in 1970s in Nigeria, this happen as a result of oil price boom that pushed Nigeria as the Africa`s wealthiest country in the world. As the elite grew richer and got more economic space and relevance in the petroleum industry, successive military and civilian government neglected agriculture. This discovery made Nigerian leaders too lazy to think outside the box and of course we are still suffering from this mentality.
Over a decade, Nigeria is continuously facing insecurity issues such as insurgencies, kidnappings, cattle rustlers, and arm banditry especially in the northern region of the country. The northern Nigeria is the main victim of poverty because studies have shown that most of the people that are wallowing in abject poverty come from north. This is as a result of poor or unpatriotic leadership, individualistic behavior of our elites and to make it worse is how we always religionize the failure to develop the region. Majority of the religious leaders are not helping matters they often tell the people that poverty, hunger, poor governance, diseases, lack of education and infrastructure are divine or due to our sins. Perfect example is the recent outbreak of cholera in Zamfara State instead the governor to find out the causes of the outbreak and provide proactive measures he ended up telling the world that, the disaster was as a result of the sins committed by the people of the state. How can we develop with this kind leaders that lack focus and vision?
The insecurity being experienced are consequenced of extreme poverty in the region, and anything to curb insecurity will add to the population of unemployment. For instance, the recent banning of commercial motorcyclists in almost all the northern states is has come at a wrong time. Many young people are earning their living through this business and now have nothing to do. If care is not taken, many of them will join kidnapping or arm bandits because a hungry man is always an angry man. There is the need to address extreme poverty for the region to remain in peace. And truly, the quickest measure that will curb the unemployment and reduce poverty is investing in agriculture. The region has over 70% of fertile but uncultivated land; public private partnership in agriculture will help to produce million jobs.
The government previous social investment programmes and the current one, such as the conditional cash transfer programme where the poorest segment of the society are given the sum of five thousand naira monthly have been dismissed as half measures that will not solve the problem. There is alleged corruption or sharp practice characterized the programmes in Nigeria.
One of the best ways to tackle extreme poverty is advancing inclusive growth, leading more sustainable poverty reduction, self-employment through entrepreneurship is critical for inclusive growth and reducing poverty and also, digital transformation is powerful driver of inclusive growth. Regular checking population growth in line with economic and social development will enormously address the problem in the region.
Poverty is sexiest, let`s put hand together and fight it by questioning the government to do more in creating job
Idris Mohammed is One Champion with One.org Nigeria and he tweets @idpyar