By Dirisu Yakubu
Nigeria is stuck in extreme poverty owing largely to a lack of sufficient investment in education over the years. This poverty trap, in which the nation is caught, according to Raymond Oseghale, a business survey analyst, is partly the reason growth in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the past few years is yet to make impact in the lives of the people.
Mr. Oseghale who was the guest on Channels television breakfast morning show, Sunrise Daily on Friday noted that despite the figures and data being churned out periodically, poverty was growing worse, warning that Nigeria would find it almost impossible to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Bemoaning the endemic level of poverty in the land, Oseghale, drawing inferences from infographic images said it is worrisome that while countries with virtually no meaningful resource endowment are tackling the poverty challenge with serious commitment, the reverse is the case in Nigeria.
“You cannot run a 70 per cent recurrent expenditure and a 30 per cent capital expenditure and expect to grow. It is not possible. The people in the country are your investment. Invest in them and they will give you returns. I am appealing to the President to invest in education to reduce poverty and engender growth to avoid the disaster that looms.
“Why do we have economic growth and at the same time, poverty is increasing in Nigeria? If you look at some African countries that are landlocked, they are reducing poverty and Nigeria is increasing poverty. I looked at the data and website like the world poverty clock and I found that on the average, 8, 000 people are being added to extreme poverty in Nigeria every day. Extreme poverty is when you live on less than $1.25 per day and poverty is when you live on less than $1.90 a day,” he said.
Using the colours in the infographic image to illustrate the level of poverty in the world, Oseghale said “nations in white have extreme poverty as little as 0.3 per cent of their population. The countries in green are reducing extreme poverty but the good thing about them is that they are going to meet the SDGs which the 193 member countries of the UN signed that by 2030, extreme poverty should be eradicated in the world at a rate by which they will meet those goals.
He continued: “The brownish yellow represents countries that are reducing extreme poverty but will not meet the SDGs by 2030. What that means is that if you are going to Benin City for instance and you drive at 100 kilometres per hour, you will cover that distance in 3 hours. But you have a car that can only do 65 kilometres per hour, you will get to Benin but you will not get there in 3 hours. So that is what the brownish yellow countries do. They eradicate extreme poverty, but will not eradicate it by 2030 which is the deadline.
“Now the countries in red (Nigeria is here) are not eradicating poverty at all; they are not reducing, they are on reverse gear. For instance, you are supposed to be going to Benin, but you put your car in reverse and head towards Ibadan. You are adding to the distance. So every day, Nigeria adds about an average of 8, 000 people to extreme poverty,” he noted. On what led to the dire situation, Oseghale said his study revealed a significant drop in investment in education as a percentage of GDP.
His words: “We have the desert countries like Mali, Niger Republic and Burkina Faso. You only need to look at their investment in education. What I did was to take an average of educational investment over 37 years from 1981 when we started reducing our investment on human capital and compared it with these countries and it was the direct opposite.
“Nigeria invested less than 1 per cent over a period of 25 years from 1991 when we reduced the expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP to 0.7 per cent. I calculated all the countries of Africa, region by region; North Africa, East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, and the southern part. We invest the least as a percentage of GDP in education and we have the highest population. That means that we have the least of per capital investment on human development and if Africa as a whole invests the least in human development in the world, and if we say that Nigeria is investing the least in Africa, that means we invest the least in the world.”
He said that growth can only be achieved with investment in education, maintaining that without skilled labour that education guarantees economic growth will be difficult to achieve. He warned that with the type of population explosion in the country disaster loomed in Nigeria on many fronts if she failed to invest massively in education.