…Why poverty is rampant – YPP
By Michael Eboh
Former President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Peter Esele, Tuesady, warned that Nigeria’s poverty situation would worsen after the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, stating that more individuals would fall below the poverty line while many micro, small and medium scale enterprises would be forced to shut down.
This was even as the Young Progressives Party (YPP), blamed the paltry allocation to the health and education sectors by the Federal Government for the worsening poverty in Nigeria.
Esele and the YPP, who were reacting to the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), that about 82.9 million Nigerians currently fall below the poverty line, were unanimous in their views that successive administration had failed to put in place the appropriate policies that would empower individuals and small businesses.
Specifically, Esele, who was also the former National President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), further blamed Nigeria’s rising poverty levels on the poor and inadequate electricity situation in Nigeria.
He said, “I do not think the government has done enough. It is not just from this current administration, it has happened over time. What we have always had is more of band aid, or let me use the common phrase now, palliatives. Palliatives do not solve any problem, it is just something to help one get by for the time being.
“What we always lack is a system, as the Chinese did; like setting a target that in the next 10 years, we would remove 50 million people out of poverty. How do you do that? It is not by dashing or giving money as a gift; because when you start giving out this money, you start building what is called an entitlement culture. It involves deciding to use a systemic way of having everybody to be able to stand on their feet.
“In the world, Nigeria has the highest number of new entrepreneurs entering the economic space; but all of these are not being optimized by the government; so we have them coming up and fading away.
“The first thing I expect government to do is to register all small scale entrepreneurs; know how many they are, and those that can create a minimum of two or three jobs. Once they are identified, you register them and follow them up to identify their challenges; and you give them grants.
“The truth is that at this point that the NBS is coming up with this figure, they did not factor what we happen after COVID-19. Post the pandemic, we are going to have a lot of small scale businesses that are going to fold up. We do not have a system whereby you can come to the rescue of these small scale businesses, so that they can survive and create employment. If you have a system in place then it would be easier for us to reduce the poverty level in this country.
“Another thing worsening poverty in Nigeria is power. We have had uninterrupted democracy for over 20 years now. These years are enough for us to have taken care of power in this country. If you take care of power, you would have taken care of the problems of employers and those of individuals seeking to become entrepreneurs.
“All the N20,000 and N30,000 or N5,000 the government is sharing will not help. It would just be a band aid, but status quo ante.”
Why poverty is endemic in Nigeria
Also speaking, National Publicity Secretary of the YPP, Comrade Egbeola Martins, argued that the NBS poverty report are encapsulated the abysmal performance of the current administration over the last five years.
According to him, the report is also a confirmation of the YPP’s unwavering position that this government lacks transformational leadership.
He said, “Result is the outcome of any given task, which could be favourable or unfavourable. The current administration has however shown that in the task of building a prosperous nation, it has failed, as this unfavourable outcome has seen our nation further plunged into extreme poverty. This result is also a reflection of nepotism, mediocrity and lack of transparency that have characterised the government since 2015.
“This government will definitely go down in our annals of history as the worst since 1960 for its high level incompetence in all facets of governance. This same government made Nigeria the poverty capital of the world, the most indebted country in Africa, the third most terrorised nation in the world and the country with the highest number of out of school children in the world.
“How can a government serious to pull her citizens out of poverty continue to allocate a paltry annual budget of less than six per cent and eight per cent for health and education respectively since 2015? There are currently over 13.5 million out of school children in Nigeria and as long as this trend continue, poverty will continue to grow unabated.
“Our advice to this government is to allow appointments to be based on merit and capacity. There should be massive investment in the education and health sectors as a way of permanently tackling poverty from the source. There should also be investment in the real sector of the economy to stimulate growth and create jobs while the fight against corruption should total and taken more seriously.”