The pains of poverty does not bear analogy with a needle stinging human body and its long effects could be reflected in the philosophical approach an analyst adopted in defining that endemic term called ‘poverty’. Mostly acceptable definition of poverty could be found in the sketch of 1995 Copenhagen World Summit on Development, where absolute poverty was defined as “a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and access to other services”.
Other social commentators have defined poverty in terms of relative deprivation. That is, poverty should be defined in relation to the standards of a particular society at a particular time, thereby, extending beyond a simple lack of material resources, and in attempting to broaden debate and research on poverty, social experts also coined the term ‘social exclusion’. Whatever the dimension of definition and conceptualization adopted, it could not change the apparent fact that poverty is indisputably an undesirable state of living – an incidence that must be alleviated in every known human settings.
“She has nourished food and her children so hungry but could’nt eat, there is an ocean and her offspring so thisty but could’nt drink, blessed with bounty of clothes but sons and daughters lives bared naked, blessed with vast hectares of housing domain yet her children moved in troops to oversea in search of favourable habits, amply endowed with experts and gurus in various spheres of life but left the so much uncaring mother for favourable zones where the genius is appreciated”.
Who or what could best replicate this shameless, careless and non-challant mother? With no regret or remorse, it is no other entity other than our dear deceitful Nigeria.
The ever-increasing high death rate in our noble country Nigeria is a staggering example of betraying humanity. People die of hunger, nutritional diseases, road crash as a result of bad roads, air mishaps, ethnic clashes, Boko haram killings, all results from poverty and bad governance.
The natural endowment is so ample that other countries of the world make jest of our dear country, Nigeria. Greatest of these resources is the larger concentration of crude oil hugely deposited in the downstream of Nigerian terrain, which was discovered in the last decade of imperial colonialism of the nation.
Poor leadership and lack of developmental initiatives has been a curse on Nigeria at least for a monumental period. That is, the concept of Nigerian factor is as old as the birth (independence) of the country herself.
Deliberately or unconsciously, our National Economy gradually becomes a mono-economy with the over-concentration on the downsream oil sector and the consequent neglect of other sectors of economy that would have supplied succour to the citizens of the country. Apparently, crude oil that ought to be the source of socio-economic and political greatness to Nigeria as a nation has unfortunately become the “conveyor belt of poverty, the womb of injustice, the den of death and ultimately ,the corridor of crime”.
Poverty, a social problem and a contagious disease identified in Nigeria as far back as three decades ago, mutating in different forms, aggravating in varieties of dimension accross moving era, surviving all forms of initiatives and overriding all poverty alleviating policies designed to combat the nemesis, and as a result deepening its root, defying all solutions and gradually becoming our permanent companion in Nigeria.
Steadily, poverty is winning the war, starving Nigeria from the south, decapacitating us from the East and disempowering our masses far from the North. Thus, Nigeria is losing the war on poverty. The corollary of all these are abound in various settlements that make up Nigeria. The masses perpetually poor despite the various poverty alleviating measures applied by successive governments in Nigeria.
The good people of Nigeria, tagged as “suffering but smiling” holding firm to the principle that, if they have devoured our future, they cannot devour our smile, are much conscious that poverty is a consequential wages of bad leadership.
By their greed, calousness and avarice, these thieving ruling elite manufactured poverty through their mindless looting of the country’s treasure, rendering the youths uneducated, and masses, homeless and pauperized. While these elected and appointed ruling cabals are busy with their Oliver Twists’ maddening acquisition, stashing of illegally-acquired wealth in foreign domiciliary accounts and sharing of peoples’ commonwealth, poverty is ravaging the home of Nigerian masses – people are hungry, thirsty, homeless, impoverished, economically degraded, dejected and devastated.
Our streets is filled with children hawking even on highways and youths who have lost hope of what future hold. People were subjected to absolute suffering and a life of misery, and yet, the nation have not been able to produce a leader who could dare exploring the audacity of progressive leadership to the benefit of Nigeria.
Various successive governments in Nigeria have made spirited attempts to reduce the incidence of poverty among the citizens.
In 1972, National Accelerated Food Production Programme and the Nigerian Agricultural and Co-operative Bank were established, in 1976, Operation Feed the Nation to teach the rural farmers how to use modern farming tools. In 1979, Green Revolution Programme to reduce food importation and increase local food production.
In 1986, Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) and in 1993, Family Support Programme and the Family Economic Advancement Programme. In 2001, National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) to replace the previously failed Poverty Alleviation Programmes. Majority of these initiatives could be regarded as white paper or window dressing policies which were toothless in tackling the root cause of poverty in Nigeria.
Combating poverty in this country has metamorphosed beyond a mere poverty alleviating programmes because only the politically acute people, whether they are in need or not, always be the benefactors of these projects. Such are just window-dressing and white paper policies, politically designed and implemented in the bureau of power tussle.
At present, there was a paradox at the heart of Nigeria as the economy was growing from strength to strength, mainly because of oil production – yet Nigerians were getting poorer. Despite the fact that the Nigerian economy is growing, the proportion of Nigerians living in poverty is increasing every year. According to National Bureau of Statistics, in 1980, 17.1 million Nigerian population live below 1 dollar per day, 34.7 million in 1985, 39.2million has not produced commensurate employment opportunities and reduction in poverty among its citizens.
The situation was what was often referred to by some analysts as faceless growth. Unemployment figures also indicated that the number of unemployed members of the labour force continues to grow from 12.3 per cent in 2006 to 23.9 per cent in 2011. It is even more disturbing to note that on the average, youth unemployment rate in Nigeria was 46.5 per cent in 2011.
According to NBS report, the North-West and North-East recorded the highest poverty rates in the country in 2010 with 77.7 per cent and 76.3 per cent respectively. On the other hand, the South-West geo-political zone, according to report, recorded the lowest at 59.1 per cent. Among the 36 states of the Federation, the report revealed that Sokoto State had the highest poverty rate (86.4 per cent), while Niger had the lowest at (43.6, per cent). As at 2004, Jigawa State had the highest poverty rate (95 per cent), while Anambra, with a poverty rate of 22 per cent, was the least poverty-stricken state.
A critical look at the indepth budgetary analysis over a couple of past years reveals that poverty is about to be allowed to continue playing unfettered free role among the poor masses of Nigeria, because our domestic earnings and foreign aids are not channelled towards empowering the teeming poor population. Instead governments, past and present, are blatantly committed to overloading our pool of resources while paying huge allowances to political office holders and even, their wives.
One recent debatable instance of such, peculiar to 2013 Budget is the huge amount voted for furnishing first ladies’ residence. One would wonder what benefit that exorbitant spending would render to the hapless masses.
The lack of a stringent regulatory and monitoring system also allowed these madly paid politicians to indulge in rampant missapropriation of funds, knowing fully well that our criminal justice system that can indict them, is much at their disposal to manipulate. This has hindered past poverty alleviation efforts, and will continue to do so, since resources which could pay for public goods or directed towards investment (and so create employment and other opportunities for citizens) are being misappropriated.
At this level, it should be recognised that there is the need for integrated and comprehensive approach that included interventions at both macro and micro levels, that will include sustaining both our small and medium scale industries, as an effective means of providing qualitative jobs for Nigerians. Government at all levels must engage in growth patterns that generate jobs on a large scale to absorb the blessings of additional labour created by the larger youth population as man power. There is also the need for a rethink and shift from jobless growth strategies toward inclusive and pro-poor growth strategies that equip youths and women with required skills for decent employment. Government must be urged working in their capacity to rescue the sinking boat of common peoples’ economy, make audacious but developmental decisions, stop your calousness, selfishness and maintain fast track developmental strategies.
It is only on this plank that we can arrest the growing rate of poverty in our dear country, Nigeria.
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