THE Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS, is possibly the most credible agency of the Federal Government, alongside the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, NEITI.
In recent years, its public rating has been on the rise due to its professional, non-political handling of the job of telling the Nigerian situation as it is in cold metrics. It has refused to be touched by the government’s propaganda machine.
Last week, the NBS released a report that put the current “multidimensional poverty” of Nigerians at about 133 million out of over 200 million. Multidimensional poverty is not just talking about the universal poverty line, which is based on the cash available to people to meet their needs. It also examines other lacks which paint the holistic picture of poverty.
These are in the areas of health, education, standard of living and access to other necessities of life (drinking water, electricity, clean energy for cooking, and others).
This figure shows that poverty has gravely worsened since the fourth quarter of 2016, when Nigeria fell into its first recession in over 25 years. At that point, 89 million Nigerians lived below the poverty line, with 53 million more rated “vulnerable.”
The implication of the NBS’s latest report is that the vulnerable group (mostly people in the middle class) have now fallen into multidimensional poverty. They can no longer afford the necessities of life which they once took for granted.
According to the NBS, Sokoto is Nigeria’s poorest state, with a 91 percent poverty rate. The poorest states include oil-rich Bayelsa, Jigawa, Kebbi, Gombe, and Yobe states, while Ondo, with 27 percent, has the best outlook.
The North continues to bear the highest burden of poverty with 65 percent or 86 million people, while the South has 35 percent or 47 million people.
In more advanced countries, the poor performance of the government should have consequences in the upcoming elections. But because poverty is deep-seated in Nigeria and has little or no self-redeeming capacity, the worsening poverty rate may still have no effect. Poverty has been weaponised against the poor.
It is affecting them at the level of the mind, thus robbing them of the willpower and cognitive impetus to vote wisely. If we don’t do something about this situation, poverty will swallow more of our people.
Running away from Nigeria for greener pastures elsewhere is not the solution. We have to eschew sentiments and demand concrete action plans, not mere manifestos, from our aspiring leaders. Let those who are still standing fight for the fallen.
The media, opinion leaders, and advocacy groups should ramp up voter education and encourage the average voter to shun vote-selling. Nigeria is abundantly blessed with human and natural resources.
We can still be the giant of Africa.