By Yinka Odumakin
EXTREME poverty is now showing us that it is worse than Coronavirus in Nigeria the global secretariat of poverty. The first thing the Federal Government did when it imposed lockdown on some areas in the country was to send troops out for enforcement as it knew that the vulnerable people it leads would be tempted to disobey the order. The Bauchi Government also enforced a 14-day lockdown but cancelled it after 24 hours because of extreme poverty.
It is not that there have not been ideas on ending extreme poverty but our government is not interested. Muhammed Abdullahi, a National Commissioner in the Ministry of National Planning as recent as 2019 did some work on three things Nigeria must do to end extreme poverty. Read and see if any is being pursued:
“About 90 million people, roughly half Nigeria’s population – live in extreme poverty, according to estimates from the World Data Lab’s Poverty Clock. Around June 2018, Nigeria overtook India, a country with seven times its population, at the bottom of the table. Put in another context, if poor Nigerians were a country it would be more populous than Germany. Almost six people in Nigeria fall into this trap every minute.
Healthcare and sanitation
Extreme poverty statistics have always been controversial. A number of countries and experts disagree with the way it is measured in monetary terms – the World Bank’s $1.90 earnings-per-day benchmark. But no matter what the arguments might be, at the root of poverty lies the deprivation of people’s access to basic necessities such as food, healthcare and sanitation, education and assets. And the evidence – including from India – shows that solving these issues generally lifts populations out of extreme poverty.
As global attention turns towards my country, Nigeria, here are three ways that concerned stakeholders and policymakers can assist in the efforts to achieve the first of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to end poverty.
- Invest in girls’ education: Nigeria is home to over 10 million out-of-school children, around half of whom are girls – and it is hardly coincidental that the country with the world’s highest number of out-of-school children is home to the highest number of people living in extreme poverty. Two-thirds of this population are concentrated in Nigeria’s highly populated north west and north-eastern regions, both of which have been ravaged by the terror group, Boko Haram, resulting in an educational emergency affecting about 2.8 million children.
The 2018 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index, MPI, of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative best presents this picture. The poorest parts of Nigeria had the worst education indicators (school attendance and years of schooling) and these constitute the biggest percentage contribution to the MPI, followed by nutrition and child mortality – all issues that affect women the most.
Educating girls is proven to have both economic returns and intergenerational impact. For Nigeria to improve on this front, it must increase its investment in education. My state, Kaduna – where I oversee the organisation with the mandate of planning and fiscal resource allocation – has consistently increased its education budget over the past decade. As a result, enrolment figures have doubled from 1.1 million students in 2015 to 2.1 million students in school today. The state now ranks the highest in the northern region, recording the highest score in the senior school certificate examinations.
- Invest in health and wellbeing: Increased investment in healthcare is linked to economic growth, and consequently to reducing poverty. Nigeria is battling with a number of crushing health indicators including malaria, tuberculosis and infant and maternal mortality, all of which have a sweeping impact on productivity. To end poverty, we must harness the demographic dividends through investment in health, education and livelihoods – especially for our young people.
In remarks he made on October 2017, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the late Professor Babatunde Osotimehin – former executive secretary of the United Nations Population Fund – argued that “when countries’ age structures change favourably, meaning that they have more people of working age than dependents, they can see a boost to development, known as a demographic dividend, provided that they empower, educate and employ their young people.”
He was right. Sub-Saharan African countries – the last frontiers of poverty in the world – are witnessing explosive population growth, and the region is projected to grow by about 51 per cent over the next three decades. The UN projects that Nigeria will have an estimated 398 million people by 2050, making it the third-largest country in the world. Lower population growth is not an automatic panacea for poverty. Rather, an educated, healthy and resilient youth population, as has been the case in China, is the best catalyst for growth. However, an absence of planning or an allocation of insufficient resources towards harnessing this bulging population could spell doom.
- Expand economic opportunities and embrace technology: Ending poverty in Nigeria will entail improving the country’s economic productivity and opportunities for its citizens. This will mean investing in human capital potential and creating jobs for women and young people, increasing financial access and opportunities these groups in rural communities, and advancing technological innovation.
Nigeria ranks 152 out of 157 countries on the World Bank’s Human Capital Index. One of the low-hanging fruits would be to embrace educational reforms that focus on developing new skills through robust and well-funded technical and vocational education and training programmes for those millions of Nigerians outside the formal school system, or who possess only a primary education. Unlocking private-sector partnerships through incentives and social impact bonds as well as boosting entrepreneurial ecosystems (with strong emphasis on apprenticeships) are key ways the government can help to spur growth, as has been proven in other countries.
Also – and notwithstanding its limitations – access to microfinance has been proven to reduce poverty around the world. While there are valid arguments for the use of grants and other social safety payouts to people living in poverty, it is important to bring people into the financial system as this could help governments better plan and integrate services for the poorest of the poor.”
Re: We have a little window to avert self-determination
I GLORIFY the Lord for giving you the insight to publish the speech titled “We have a little window to avert self-determination” delivered by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo during the first memorial of the OPC Founder Dr. Fredrick Faseun last month. I believe that you and I and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo have something in common in our belief concerning Nigeria and the role we must play to ensure that it achieves what the Lord has destined it to be.
As a proof of this I have attached the following to this e-mail:
(a) My essay titled With Love And Sincerity written on May 31, 1998. This essay intended for publication in the Vanguard was overtaken by the event of Gen. Sanni Abacha’s death according to Ochereome Nnanna of Vanguard Newspapers when I took the essay personally to him.
(b) My letter to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo dated May 19, 1999 before he was sworn in as President on May 29, 1999.
(c) My advert in the Vanguard on March 31, 2003 which speaks for itself.
(d) My letter to President Olusegun Obasanjo titled The Message dated May 1, 2004 which I sent through Mrs. Oluremi Oyo of blessed memory.
(e) My e-mail to you titled The Truth about June 12 dated March 25, 2019.
(f) My recent letter to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo titled National Reconciliation – A Clarion Call for Action which I despatched by courier to his Spokesman.
The door leading to the realisation of Nigeria’s destiny was opened on the 1st day of October 1960. This door was locked on the 15th day of January 1966. Since then, all attempts aimed at unlocking and opening this door have failed because we are not using the right combination.
The right combination has been given to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on the 13th day of March 2003. The process of unlocking this door will begin with the proclamation of June 12 as National Reconciliation Day.
This will kick-start the restructuring of the minds of Nigerians; a prerequisite for a successful restructuring of our nation with love and sincerity, as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has said repeatedly. This is the main reason behind my recent letter to him, which I have attached to this e-mail.
I am asking you in the name of the Lord to use all resources available to support this truth about June 12.
May the Lord crown our efforts with success.
Chukwuadinula (God is not asleep) Aniamaka.
National Reconciliation – A Clarion Call For Action
I am prompted to write to Your Excellency once again, this time on the above subject matter, as the only sure way forward for our nation at this point in time. I wish to refer to the following attached documents which shows my commitment to the above cause for over thirty years.
My essay titled With Love And Sincerity written on May 31, 1998. This essay intended for publication in the Vanguard was overtaken by the event of Gen. Sanni Abacha’s death according to Ochereome Nnanne of Vanguard Newspapers when I took the essay personally to him.
- ii) My letter to you dated May 19, 1999 c/o Professor Ango Abdullahi, before you were sworn in as President on May 29, 1999.
iii) My advert in the Vanguard on March 31, 2003 which speaks for itself; among others.
It is this letter dated March 13, 2020 that has prompted me to make this Clarion Call for you to take action by urging President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to change June 12 from Democracy Day to National Reconciliation Day. You have said on many occasions that we must restructure our minds before we are able to restructure Nigeria successfully. The adoption of June 12 as National Reconciliation Day will kick-start the process of our reconciling with God and with one another.
This is in obedience to instruction of the Lord even before you were sworn in as the elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1999 and which formed the main issue in my mails enumerated above and attached to this letter. Who knows that, perhaps this is the main reason why you are alive and kicking today. Just imagine what God’s little judgment with a virus, is doing to the whole world now. May the Lord give us the grace to be obedient to His words.
Your humble citizen