Poverty in Nigeria
Poverty in Nigeria remains significant despite high economic growth it first started sometime during the British empire. Nigeria has one of the world's highest economic growth rates (averaging 7.4% over the last decade), a well-developed economy, and plenty of natural resources such as oil. However, it retains a high level of poverty, with 63% living on below $1 daily, implying a decline in equity.
Poverty in Nigeria can be also caused by the political instability of the country. However, these programs have largely failed to overcome the three reasons for this persistent poverty: income inequality, ethnic conflict, and political instability.
Income inequality worsened from 0.43 to 0.49 between 2004 and 2009. This is correlated with differential access to infrastructure and amenities. In particular, there are more rural poor than urban poor. This results from the composition of Nigeria's economy, especially the energy (oil) and agriculture sectors. Oil exports contribute significantly to government revenues and about 15% of GDP, despite employing only a fraction of the population. Agriculture, however, contributes to about 45% of GDP, and employs close to 90% of the rural population.
This incongruence is compounded by the fact that oil revenue is poorly distributed among the population, with higher government spending in urban areas than rurally. High unemployment rates renders personal incomes even more divergent. Moreover, the process of oil extraction has resulted in significant pollution, which further harms the agricultural sector.
Long-term ethnic conflict and civil unrest
Nigeria has historically experienced much ethnic conflict.[note 1] With the return to civilian rule in 1999, militants from religious and ethnic groups have become markedly more violent. While this unrest has its roots in poverty and economic competition, its economic and human damages further escalate the problems of poverty (such as increasing the mortality rate). For instance, ethnic unrest and the displeasure of local communities with oil companies has contributed to the conflict over oil trade in the Niger Delta, which threatens the productivity of oil trade. Civil unrest might also have contributed to the adoption of populist policy measures which work in the short-run, but impede m poverty alleviation efforts.
Political instability and corruption
Nigeria's large population and historic ethnic instability has led to the adoption of a federal government. The resultant fiscal decentralisation provides Nigeria’s state and local governments considerable autonomy, including control over 50% of government revenues, as well as responsibility for providing public services.
The lack of a stringent regulatory and monitoring system has allowed for rampant corruption. This has hindered past poverty alleviation efforts, and will continue to do so, since resources which could pay for public goods or directed towards investment (and so create employment and other opportunities for citizens) are being misappropriated.
There have been attempts at poverty alleviation, most notably with the following programmes:
- 1972: National Accelerated Food Production Programme and the Nigerian Agricultural and Co-operative Bank.
- 1976: Operation Feed the Nation: to teach the rural farmers how to use modern farming tools.
- 1979: Green Revolution Programme: to reduce food importation and increase local food production.
- 1986: Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI)
- 1993: Family Support Programme and the Family Economic Advancement Programme
- 2001: National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP): to replace the previously failed Poverty Alleviation Program.
- Nigeria has almost 200 ethnic groups and two major religions (Islam and Christianity)
- "Nigeria - Country Brief". Web.worldbank.org. 2011-09-23. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
- "Nigeria". DFID. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
- Aigbokhan, Ben E. (2000). "Poverty, Growth and Inequality in Nigeria: A Case Study". unpan1.un.org.
- "Nigeria 2009". comtrade.un.org.
- "home". Ruralpovertyportal.org. 2007-02-13. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
- "Nigeria profile". BBC News. 2012-01-24. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
- "Violence in Nigeria's Oil Rich Rivers State in 2004: Summary". Hrw.org. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
- Duffield, Caroline (2010-09-28). "The illegal but lucrative trade in educational materials, for instance, cripples the work of teachers". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
- Dr Jideofor Adibe. "Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria: Which Way Nigeria? :: Holler Africa - Make Yourself Heard!". Holler Africa. Retrieved 2012-03-21.