Without a doubt, the greatest challenge of third world countries, particularly in sub-Sahara Africa, is tackling poverty.
Sadly, poverty is associated with people of the region, with different dimensions of it impacting negatively on her.
Even though scholars have said poverty is relative, but once mentioned it connotes lack of basic or elementary needs of food, shelter, and clothing.
Perhaps, that is why the above mentioned are critical to human survival and sustainability.
Nevertheless, poverty is a global phenomenon which the entire world governance system has come to appreciate, particularly, as global capitalism continues to sustain exploitation that leads to inequality in all nations.
The foregoing is to help us understand the world system and poverty because poverty is not just a regional or local phenomenon. Moreso that its occurrences, spread and dimension are globalised. Thus, the UN its affiliates are all calling for concerted global action against poverty.
Back home in Nigeria, poverty is a known fact and evident literally walking in our streets and corners. It is well known that Nigerians live below $1.50 a day and that citizens of this great nation survive by all manner of schemes and strategies.
That has kept them alive, and hoping for a better day. This has practically informed several reports outcomes and result indicating that more that half of the population are living in abject poverty.
However, the Nigerian official agency in charge of monitoring economic growth, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), recently, released its Multi-Dimensional Poverty Data November 2022. The data shows that 133 million Nigerians are actually living and soaring in poverty.
This indicates that 65% are in the poverty brackets, a scenario that showcase that three out of every Nigerian you meet in the country is a poor man or woman, boy or girl.
However, the Multi-Dimensional Poverty survey was carried out by the NBS using key indicators like access to education, health facilities and service, quality of standard of living, access to shelter and conducive environment, access to jobs and recreational facilities.
This latest NBS Multi-Dimensional Poverty Report is disheartening, going by the numerous promises of the governments at the centre and subnational to reduce poverty or take Nigerians out of poverty.
Instructively, several initiatives and policies of government are geared towards the fight against poverty in the country.
But the reverse is the case if we juxtapose this scenario with 65% of the country population that are subjected to live under discomforting multidimensional indicators of abject poverty.
What can we say about the federal government’s Conditional Cash Transfer, the N-Power, TraderMoni, CBN Anchor Borrowers, CBN Households loan scheme SMEDAN, NDE BOI, DBN, among others.
We also know that state and local governments different poverty alleviation schemes as well while our National Assembly and state houses of sssembly are not short of doling out all manners of items such okada motorcycles, grinding machines, and sewing machines, etc. to the people.
What about the different NGOs offering training and empowerment schemes where participants are given start-up capital and tools.
If we are to ask, how have all these fared in tackling poverty whereas 133 million of us are down deeper in the poverty stream.
Again, we need to interrogate further by asking the following questions: Why are Nigerians so poor? Why is the government failing to bring Nigerians out poverty as promised? Is the poverty of 133 million Nigerians a threat to security and governance? How best can government tackle job poverty?
Ironically, the answers to the above questions are not far fetched. This is linked to what our governments have failed to do over the years. Failing to tackle poor electricity generation, transmission and distribution for 24 hours is the biggest economic structural deficit that sustained poverty in Nigeria.
Another is the failure to sustain the policy of localised industry and cottage industry in our rural areas. Successive governments never saw reason to implement such a policy that would have helped reverse the trend of rural – urban migration and poverty of the people.
Lastly, we are confronted with the monster called corruption that has eaten deep into every fabric of our society. However, corruption committed by civil and public servants in collaboration with politicians remains the oil that greases the soaring poverty in Nigeria.
Olamilekan, a political economist, writes from Lagos via [email protected]