Peter Obi, The Presidential candidate for the Labour Party, said that Nigeria needs a new elite consensus on national development priorities and imperatives to fight poverty.
Obi disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in reaction to a recent report by the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation (IGET) titled Nigeria’s Poverty Trap and How to End It.
The report and Obi’s reaction to it are coming on the heels of the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showed that 63% of Nigeria’s population (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor.
Trouble stats: In his reaction, Obi noted that he found the conclusions of the report extremely troubling, but also a compelling clarion call to action.
“I’ve always accorded priority to poverty alleviation; more so within the context of moving Nigeria from consumption to production. My position on National Development Plans is clear, and I share fully the report’s conclusion on the need for a new elite consensus on national development priorities and imperatives,” he noted.
The IGET report: The report called for the abolition of the Land Use Act, and civil service and security reforms to improve state capacity and gender empowerment.
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It also called for intensified family planning education and services, and resolution of the conflicts (or “silent wars”) in various parts of Nigeria that have caused and exacerbated poverty through internal displacement and decreased food production are all structural changes necessary to enable millions of Nigerians to escape the poverty trap.
More so, the report pointed out the need to rethink social protection in Nigeria, citing that despite several initiatives taken over the last 52 years by various administrations, poverty rates in Nigeria have remained high as the social protection system in Nigeria is insufficient, ineffective, and therefore mainly ineffectual.
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It also called for the implementation of a social security program for Nigerians 65 and older. Nigerians in this age range number 5 million.
“These senior citizens could be effectively covered by guaranteed social security payments if the Federal Government of Nigeria were to successfully plug fiscal revenue leakages such as oil theft (estimated to cost $700 million per month or $8.4 billion per year) and direct misappropriation of public funds, combined with effective saving and management of a social security fund.
“We believe Nigeria can set aside N5-7 trillion yearly to fund the operation of a thorough, well-managed social security system, as well as a comparable, separate allocation for education, healthcare, water, and sanitation.
“In order to save money in other areas of government, infrastructure projects should be financed mostly through public-private partnerships, with the exception of rural infrastructure. The cost of governance should be reduced,” part of the report said.
What you should know: Over half of Nigeria’s population is multidimensionally poor, with multidimensional poverty higher in rural areas, where 72% of people are poor, compared to 42% of people in urban areas.
High deprivations also appeared nationally in sanitation, time to healthcare, food insecurity, and housing as 65% of the poor (86 million people) live in the North, while 35% (nearly 47 million) live in the South. Poverty levels across states vary significantly, with the incidence of multidimensional poverty ranging from a low of 27% in Ondo to a high of 91% in Sokoto.