There is no doubt that Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is blessed with abundant human and natural resources and have the capability and potential of being a rich nation. However, it wallows in poverty rather than prosperity.
About 86.9 million of its people live in severe poverty, this is about 40.1% of its entire population. Therefore, making it the nation with the largest rate of people living in extreme poverty.
A number of factors are responsible for the high rate of poverty, notably are corruption, high rate of unemployment, deficit human capital development, and inequalities. All these have destroyed the nation’s economic frameworks, thereby deepening poverty in the country.
Corruption within the government has broadened the inequalities between the political elite and to those livingng in poverty. Unemployment rate is pegged at 27.1% as of the second quarter of 2020. This has also had consequential effect on crime rate, which has soared in recent times justifying the saying “An idle hand is a devil’s workshop.”
Addressing Poverty, though Government has launched several social intervention programmes like N-Power, Growth Economic Enhancement Programme(GEEP), National Home Grown School Feeding Programme etc, these programmes alone can not create the social inclusion that is fundamental to overcoming poverty in all its dimensions. Hence, the following ways would be looked into.
1) Infrastructure development: Infrastructure is critical to economic growth and development. Availability of good roads, rail networks, regular power supply, access to pipe-borne-water, efficient transportation systems is important to investment and the establishment and survival of businesses.
2) Diversification of the economy: Over-reliance on crude oil for the past years is one of the reasons the economy is in bad shape and resulting in deepening poverty.
Policy makers should ensure that other sectors of the economy are revived and made to be yielding to the economy. Solid minerals such as gold, coal, aside from generating revenues, can also create wealth along the value chain. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the majority of Nigerians. If this sector is allowed to prosper, it is capable of lifting many out of poverty.
3) Education and Technology: There is an urgent need to invest heavily in quality and affordable education as this will build human capital. The major resource any nation has is its people. Bill Gates, Billionaire, and Philanthropist, advised the Government of Nigeria when he came visiting a few years ago that the government should take investing in its people seriously.
4) Security: This is important as no meaningful development or progress can take place in an unsafe environment. The government should re-engineer the security architecture of the nation to ensure the safety of its people and assets.
5) Transparency: Government at all level should ensure sincerity in the purpose of its policies as well as accountability. Corruption and corrupt individuals in government should be dealt with.
By improving educational opportunities, reducing corruptio,n and creating an enabling environment for job creation, Nigeria can help its citizens get out of poverty. These steps will also help the nation prosper as well. Yes it’s possible of lifting Nigerians out of poverty.
Oluwasegun Oladokun is a Sunreporters features writer, brand strategist, writes from Lagos.