According to the recently released 2010 Poverty Profile for Nigeria by the National Bureau of Statistics 93.9% of Nigerians actually think they are poor. That’s a startling revelation especially if one considers that we don’t have alarming cases of malnutrition or lack of basic food and water supply. But is this really true? Are we really that poor?? After all as bad as things are most of the guys within this “I am poor” bracket can still afford at least a meal a day. What about all the prayers we make everyday, does this now mean religious bodies are perhaps not as effective as we think they are. After all most of them preach prosperity and deliverance from poverty. Or is it that Nigerians just like to hide behind the cloak of poverty so as to hide their mostly ill gotten wealth? Nigerians, even those who have flashy cars, have kids schooling and living abroad, drink and party everyday at clubs and at home actually feel they are poor. Whatever you think though, it just shows average Nigerians from all works of life actually do not see any improvement in their standard of living. Its a sad dose of reality for a government hoping to make the country one of the fastest growing economies in the world in 8 years time. It is even worse when you consider that this is a nation full of natural resources scattered over the length and breadth of country. Your citizens are so pessimistic they taxed think they are poor. Whilst it may be disappointing and unfair for most Nigerians to see themselves as poor it is pertinent to comment on the several data pouring out of the report
A closer look at the report reveals an even more grim assessment of where we are in terms of poverty. The reports asserts 60.9% of Nigerians (99.2m) live in absolute poverty. Sokoto State had the highest with 81.9% of the citizens or is it residents live in absolute poverty. The report also reveals that in terms of the number of Nigerians living on a dollar per day, a massive 61.2% of Nigerians live on less than a dollar a day. The reports also estimates that poverty levels for 2011 may have risen to about 71.5%, 61.9% and 62.8% respectively. In terms of consumption, 40% of the top Nigerians account for 80% of consumption meaning 60% of Nigerians (over 90m) only account for 20% of consumptions. The gap between the rich and the poor has never been wider.
If Nigeria were to be somewhere in the west, the President would be under immense pressure to change the course of events. Nigerians are obviosly doing worse than they did in the military era or indeed any other time since the 80’s. The following table (an extract from the report) shows just that;
Year Non-poor Moderately poor Extremely poor
1980 72.8 21.0 6.2
1985 53.7 34.2 12.1
1992 57.3 28.9 13.9
1996 34.4 36.3 29.3
2004 43.3 32.4 22.0
2010 31.0 30.3 38.7
From the above, Nigerians have been on a steady decline in terms of wealth since 2004. Despite the perceived growth of 7% and payment of about $18b of Paris Club debt in 2005, Nigerian have actually been worse off. If this is not a clear message to radically change the current economic plans of the government then I do not know what else is.