By Dr. Peregrino Brimah
The World Bank country director for Nigeria, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, earlier this month said that 63% or 100 million Nigerians were destitute, living below the poverty line. In her words, “1.2 billion people live in destitution (around the world) out of which 100 million are Nigerians. Inequality is rising in many developing nations.”
Nigeria’s president just “debunked” this via his Chief Economic adviser, Dr Nwanze Okidigbe. Please let’s review.
Firstly, it is important to appreciate that the World Bank did not reveal any new figures. This has been the recognized poverty level in Nigeria since 2010 at least.
National Bureau of statistics (NBS), BBC, 13 February 2012: Poverty has risen in Nigeria, with almost 100 million people living on less than a $1 (£0.63) a day, despite economic growth, statistics have shown. 60.9% of Nigerians in 2010 were living in “absolute poverty” – this figure had risen from 54.7% in 2004.
February NBS report for 2011, Vanguard: 112 million Nigerians are poor going by the economic situation in the country in 2011. While 100 million are in absolute poverty, 12.6 million are moderately poor. http://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/02/how-government-impoverished-nigerians-poverty-on-rampage/
As can be seen, Marie-Nelly’s statement on our destitution level is not revealing anything new; this year, National Bureau of Statistics again stated that about 112million Nigerians lived below the poverty line. And “that the population of Nigerians in poverty has increased considerably (In 2011). The figure represents about 67 per cent of the entire population.”
To confirm this, we implore the President and his Chief Economic adviser to go ask Dr. Yemi Kale, Nigeria’s Statistician general who heads the National Statistics Bureau which collects these data from over 20 million Nigerian households, over the years. It is beneficial to highlight at this point, that these figures are not evenly distributed, the landlocked north has higher rates, Sokoto with a highest of 86% destitute, while Southern States have some of the better rates which reduce the national average, with states like Anambra—the lowest—with 22% destitute.
What our government representative ignorantly jumbled up, and accused the World Bank of contradiction in, was the National poverty rate. This “rate” is very different from the well established nation’s figures for people living below the global poverty line (of $1.25/day).
Quoting World Bank, “National poverty rate is the percentage of the population living below the national poverty line.” The poverty threshold, or national poverty line, is the minimum level of income deemed adequate in a given country. It is an insular figure which is set and varies by countries.
It was this comparative figure within Nigeria that did drop 2 points between 2004 and 2010. Once we understand that for this figure to drop, it can simply mean that Nigeria reduced the “deemed adequate” value or that overall Nigeria developed more poverty within the period, but what happened was a “curve” shift arising from more of the middle class moving to frank poverty. Such a shift will drop the national poverty rate while increasing the global poverty rank. The documented widening gap between the rich and poor substantiates such explanation. In any case, the national rate has nothing to do with the global poverty line.
It is frankly distressing to think that our Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Dr Nwanze Okidigbe and by representation, our President does not even know where we stand in the world poverty map, and discombobulated our national rates with this well recognized and tracked 60-70% poverty prevalence. So what figures have this government been using to address poverty in Nigeria? The 46%? If this is what our Chief Economic Adviser understands and utilizes, then it is clear why we are in such economic shambles! It appears this government exists in a self-blown up bubble.
Sadder yet, was the presentation Nigeria used to “counter” the figures referenced by the World Bank. Referring to loaves of bread and GSM phones serves only one purpose. Clearly, Nigerian leadership was not talking to the World Bank. They know that to talk to the World Bank, you quote standard statistical data. This presentation was a political statement to the Nigerian masses to convince or confuse us by elementary methods that the World Bank is “working for the opposition parties.”
On GSM lines, Dr Nwanze Okidigbe seemed to suggest that 112 million lines translated to 112 million people who can afford that comparatively expensive (when the Nigerian GSM extortive, oligopolistic service is compared to the world) technology. The reality we all know is that our inflated price mobile network service is so poor that most of us have 2 or 3 lines. This brings down the relevance of this 112m figure to less than 50m that own the total lines.
Secondly, owning a line costs a mere N200 and servicing it per month costs N100, N1200/year which is basically all many, especially those in the rural areas where poverty is most prevalent (with 80% living below the poverty line) do so as to manage limited use in receiving calls alone and sending occasional texts. N1200/year equals less than $7/year.
The forgotten rural population of Nigeria who suffer at the hands of government instituted taxes, subsidy-removal, planned road use taxes and other siphons are the worst hit, cheated and robbed from, by Nigeria’s successive rapacious administrations. This disenfranchised population which accounts for roughly half of the nation’s total (81 million), do not have a single benefit from our governments and are the most pitiful victims of the government and even of us proletariat and petty bourgeoisie, who do not fight to protect their right to welfare and prosperity.
And on the presidencies’ reference to loaves of bread; that’s just a big laugh. In the US, 50 million are destitute. Does this mean 50 million do not eat bread? Our deluded stupendously wealthy government is in such disconnect from the masses, it’s mortally gelastic.
Did he mention SURE-P? Funds that are milked from the poor to feed the cabal and that are largely missing, embezzled or poorly accounted for?
These days, Nigeria seems to always be highlighted in the news and for the same set of painful reasons. Last January, David Cameron mentioned Nigeria as the elucidative example, during his World economic forum speech, to highlight the problems of transparency and corruption in the world.
In the speech, Cameron said, “Last year Nigeria oil exports were worth almost a hundred billion dollars. That is more than the total net aid to the whole of sub Saharan Africa. So put simply: unleashing the natural resources in these countries dwarfs anything aid can achieve, and transparency is absolutely critical to that end. So we’re going to push for more transparency on who owns companies; on who’s buying up land and for what purpose; on how governments spend their money; on how gas, oil and mining companies operate; and on who is hiding stolen assets and how we recover and return them.”
The British Prime Minister followed up by referring to the topic today. He said, “Thirty years ago more than half of our planet lived on the equivalent of one dollar twenty five a day or less; today it’s not one half, it is one fifth.”
It is disheartening to realize that when the world is improving the living conditions of its people. When a predominance of more than half living below $1.25 has been cut around the world to one fifth, Nigeria is not one of the nations that celebrate human progress. We own almost 10% of the world’s poor. 70% of this nation lives below the poverty line, whereas the nation brags of having some of the world’s wealthiest men. Billionaires in dollars who made wealth off of the nations massive natural blessings by impoverishing the masses of the nation via government managed oligopolies and partnership with our governments, civilian and democratic to loot the wealth and resource of the people.
This is the law of compensation. It is unfortunate, but not surprising that the President and his team are oblivious to this reality. You cannot plunder the wealth and future of a people, and all drive armored cars and command private jets, and the people remain affluent. When you take, someone must give. When the government continues all types of elaborate schemes and scams, siphoning the oil wealth of the nation, enforcing exploitative monopolies for its private partner cabal friends on life’s essentials, imposing higher tariffs, levies and sanctions on the masses to squeeze out every last kobo into the paws of the cabal, the result is poverty.
At about 68% destitute level, Nigeria, a world top oil producer, and the nation with the highest paid Senators in the entire world, today has the fourth highest number of poor on the continent. Interactive map here:http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/indicators/SI.POV.DDAY
Our government and their coterie of elite vampires loot not just from our land, but from our pockets. They have made the nation too poor, too poor to react and they are counting on us soon becoming too poor to even think.