THAT Mrs. Theresa May, British Prime minister came, is no longer a news . The news is however her verdict over the prevalence of poverty in the country.
According to the Prime Minister, about 87 million Nigerians live below $1.90 a day, making Nigeria ” home of very poor people than any other nation in the world”. Her position seemed to be at variance to the official statistics being displayed, showing the level of economic improvement the country is witnessing.
OFFICIAL statistics always tell us that the economy is doing well, but the stark reality is that people are poor and miserable.
MAY concluded that many individual Nigerians were enjoying the fruits of a “resurgent economy”.
THERESA May may not be the only person who reasoned this way. In the last few months, for example, some international organizations and foreign think-tanks have painted grim pictures about the poverty rates in Nigeria. The World Bank revealed that Nigerians are getting poorer. Also Brookings Institute, whose report tallied with Theresa May, indicated that 87 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty at the end of May 2019 . Nigeria is now the home of the largest number of persons living in extreme poverty. India used to occupy the exalted position which Nigeria now holds .
ACCORDING to the think-tank, about six persons get into extreme poverty every minute in Nigeria.
IT is unfortunate that with every successive government, the paradox of poverty in opulence stays with Nigeria. From the North, East, West and South, the elites in politics and their civilians collaborators get richer and fatter, while the average Nigerian sinks in debts. The political elites unfortunately won’t ever take heed from ancient Rome and Greece, vast inequality of fortunes destroy all the republics of the past.
CORRUPTION has been adduced as the major reason why we sank into this abyss. A Chatham House report has estimated that at least $480 billion was stolen by corrupt officials in Nigeria between 1960 and 2004. It also stated that close to $400 billion was stolen from Nigeria’s public accounts from 1960 to 1999, adding that between 2005 and 2014, $182 billion was lost through illicit financial flows from the country.
THE report observed that the stolen commonwealth represents the investment gaps in building and equipping modern hospitals to reduce Nigeria’s exceptionally high maternal mortality rates, estimated at two out of every 10 global maternal deaths.
WE thus conclude that corruption fuels inequality, holds back development and is a threat to national development of countries, including Nigeria.
IT is unfortunate to see Nigerians live in abject poverty, taking into considerations the level of the rich human and natural resources that abound in the country.
THE HOPE believes that governments at all levels need to urgently design programs that could take Nigerians out of the present economic situation.
OUR position is that government on the immediate should initiate a social protection agenda. The present effort of giving the poor a monthly stipend of N5000 to cushion their poverty level is in the right direction. Federal government should borrow a leaf from China that won the 2016 Best Social Security Nation Award for putting 100 million people yearly into the social security system.
IN addition to this, attention should be focused on agriculture to stem the level of poverty in the land. Agriculture if genuinely done could bring people out of their poverty level . Nigeria is blessed with good arable land that can produce good agricultural yields. Thus, government should tap on this by giving our youths incentives to go into agriculture.
IF our schools can be encouraged as it was in the past to go into agriculture, government can use this to catch people young, encourage them to go into agriculture by giving them high-yielding seedlings and other incentives that can make them to go into profitable agriculture.
GOVERNMENT should also plan for how to take care of our bloated population. We need to have accurate census in the country and through that plan adequately for how the country gains from it. China, the highest populated country, benefits from its largeness, Nigeria should not be an exemption.
WE commend the present government on the fight against corruption. It must continue the fight and those that have dipped their hands into our commonwealth must be made to pay the price. Thieves deserve jail time and even more. However, government should go outside rhetorics and give the anti-corruption drive more life. We feel it should extend to everyone, not minding their political leaning. Tough talk and fear-based messaging alone cannot address the menace of corruption.
WE should not postpone the doom day, for Aristotle says “that poverty is the parent of revolution and crime”, which is the very manifestation that Nigeria currently faces in the increasing waves of corruption .
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