Nigerians are getting poorer contrary to Buhari’s claim

The good people of Nigeria will remain very poor for a long time to come, the 2021 report of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) revealed.

Nigeria’s chances of achieving Goal 1 of the SDGs, which is the attainment of zero poverty among its people by the year 2030, appear slim, as the country’s poverty headcount is soaring high still, instead of reducing. 

The latest sustainable development report ranked Nigeria low at the 160th position out of 165 countries. The leadership of countries all over the world, through the UN, had committed themselves to achieve all the 17 SDG goals by the end of 2030.

The SDG report revealed that the Nigerian government is not effective at all in lowering poverty among its people if it is making any effort at all. Instead, the leadership in Nigeria is supervising increasing poverty in the country. 

Data showed that 43% of Nigeria’s estimated 206.1 million population is living below the lowest poverty threshold which is $1.90 a day. That is to say, more than 4 out of every 10 Nigerians live on less than N779, using the Central Bank of Nigeria’s official exchange rate of N410.

The outcome of the poverty headcount is far worse when it is based on the next international poverty threshold of $3.20. The UN data revealed that 74% of the country’s population survive on less than $3.20 or N1,312 a day. That means according to international standards, more than 7 persons out of every 10 Nigerian are poor. 

The recent SDG 1 figures present Nigerians as poorer than their fellow Africans in four other African countries from the North, South, East and West of the continent, namely Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana.

“In the last two years we lifted 10.5 million people out of poverty” True or False?

In his democracy speech on June 12, 2021, President Buhari claimed that his administration has lifted 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years. However, the Sustainable Development Report says the contrary. In fact, data showed that more people slipped into poverty within this period, either using the $1.90 or $3.20/day poverty threshold.

Nigeria’s poverty headcount ratio at $3.20 rose from 68.7% in 2018 to 70% in 2019. It further increased to 73.22% in 2020. These increasing incidents of poverty, particularly in the Buhari administration and the government’s denial of the same casts doubt on its ambitious plans to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. 

Not only this, just like the country did not achieve the Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) poverty targets by 2015, it might also be one of the countries that may not attain goal one of the SDGs by 2023, given its ever-increasing unemployment and inflation rate – two economic factors that prevent access to income and devalue people’s hard-earned income.

Between 2010 and 2020, Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose five-fold, from 6.4% in 2010 to 33.3% in 2020. According to a report by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, the rise in the number of unemployed people is expected to push more people into the poverty trap, going forward. 

Already, inflation has pushed millions of Nigerians below the poverty threshold. The World Bank revealed this in its recent Nigeria Development Update report, noting that inflationary pressure pushed about 7 million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.

The foregoing evidence from data suggests that unemployment and inflation contribute to extreme poverty in Nigeria, and together pose a major challenge for Nigeria in ending poverty – goal one of the SDGs. This is aside from the impact the COVID-19 may have had not only on Nigeria but the global community in achieving the SDGs. Acknowledging the effect of the global pandemic on the SDGs, the United Nations Secretary General noted that “the current crisis is threatening decades of development gains,… and throwing progress on the SDGs even further off track”

To get back on track to achieve Goal 1 of the SDGs, the government may need to adopt more effective economic measures, particularly in reducing the unemployment rate and inflationary pressure. 

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