Poverty in Nigeria
Nigeria has one of the world's highest economic growth rates, averaging 7.4% according to the Nigeria economic report released in July 2014 by the World Bank. Poverty still remains significant at 33.1% in Africa's biggest economy. For a country with massive wealth and a huge population to support commerce, a well-developed economy, and plenty of natural resources such as oil, the level of poverty remains unacceptable. However, poverty may have been overestimated due to the lack of information on the extremely huge informal sector of the economy, estimated at around 60% more, of the current GDP figures.
Poverty in Nigeria can also be 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.
As at 2010, the Gini coefficient of Nigeria is rated medium, at 0.43. However, there are more rural poor than urban poor. This is correlated with differential access to infrastructure and amenities. This results from the composition of Nigeria's economy, especially the energy (oil) and agriculture sectors. Oil exports contribute significantly to government revenues; it contributes 9% to the GDP, and employs only a fraction of the population. Agriculture, however, contributes to about 17% of GDP, and employs about 30% of the 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 to 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 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 to a large extent, 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 250 ethnic groups and two major religions (Islam and Christianity).
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- Dr Jideofor Adibe. "Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria: Which Way Nigeria? :: Holler Africa - Make Yourself Heard!". Holler Africa. Retrieved 2012-03-21.