By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA—Citing the 2004 statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, National Poverty Eradication Programme, NAPEP, Tuesday said 75 million Nigerians, representing 50 percent of the population, still live below a dollar per day.
The agency also disclosed that about 42% of Nigerians, aged between 15 and 24 years, were unemployed.
Senior Special Assistant to the President and National Coordinator of NAPEP, Dr. Magnus L. Kpakol, who spoke while presenting the scorecard of NAPEP to newsmen, lamented that though the poverty rate fell from about 70% in 1999 to about 50% as at today, unemployment rate had skyrocketed.
According to him, statistics show that about 17% of Nigerians, aged between 25 and 44 years, are unemployed and that the greater number of these Nigerians are those living in the rural areas, which gives credence to the problem of fighting poverty in the rural areas.
He told his listeners that it was erroneous for anyone to continue to think that NAPEP was an agency that established to share money as a way of fighting poverty, noting that with the right information given to Nigerians, they would fight their ways out of poverty.
Kpakol explained that there is no way government can share money to Nigerians as a way out of poverty, but rather through the NAPEP will continue to show how those unemployed can gainfully be part of the economic activities.
He disclosed that though the economy of the country seems to be improving since 1999 till date, the unemployment ratio has skyrocketed and that the percentage of those unemployed was greater in the rural areas.
The NAPEP boss said the call on some quarters that government should concentrate on the provision of electricity, building of roads and other infrastructures will not eradicate poverty unless Nigerians key into the programmes aimed at empowering them to live above poverty level.
Jigawa and Kebbi states were given as example of states with very high poverty rate with Jigawa recording 95.1% and Kebbi 89% poverty rate with the explanation that states with high population rate tends to accommodate the largest number of poor person. Another good example was Lagos said to be the only state in the South Western Nigeria with very high rate of poor persons.
Kpakol added that a lot of programmes are already in place to help address the problem faced by the very poor persons in the country and that it is because KEKE NAPEP was visible that people tend to point to it as the only achievement of NAPEP so far.
Pointing out that the average budget of NAPEP from 2003 to 2009 is within the range of N1.371billion, adding that, the money released for the KEKE NAPEP project was one billion naira (N1billion) in 2002, one billion (N1billion) in 2003 and N2.4billion in 2007.