As UNDP predicts 115m people to join extreme poverty list in 2020
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As the world marks 2020 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Saturday, October 15, 2020, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Sunday, assessed and scored Federal, State and Local Governments’ performance on poverty reduction in the country.
This year’s theme of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is, ‘Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all’, which the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, has predicted that 115 million people will join the extreme poverty list in 2020, majorly caused by the devastating impact of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.
According to reports Nigeria is currently known as the poverty capital of the world, exceeding India with the largest rate of people living in extreme poverty, which about 86.9 million people in Nigerian live in severe poverty, and this is about 50 per cent of its entire population.
Speaking with Vanguard on the effort and impact made by government so far in reducing poverty, CSOs asserted that there is really no meaningful impact, hence the emrgence of various arm groups including kidnappers, armed robbers, terrorists, ritualists, ‘Yahoo Boys’, baby factories, cultists, fraudsters, One-chance gangs, thugs, assassins, and terror groups across length and breadth of the country.
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Poverty i,n the country has also led to unemployment, suicide, frustration, and the ongoing #EndSARS and #EndSWAT protests that have engulfed the country as young people have decided to take their destiny in their hand towards freedom from the pangs and fangs of poverty, majorly caused by corrupt leaders that have siphoned what belongs to all.
The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said, “Efforts made by the successive governments have yielded little or nothing because we cannot make any significant progress towards tackling poverty in Nigeria without restructuring the country so that the federating units are strategically empowered to address its numerous challenges.
“Nigeria does not currently have the right leadership that is visionary, bold & resourceful enough to bring about the process for unbundling this country and unleashing its vast potentials.
“What we need now is the kind of leadership that can lead Nigeria into a new phase of commitment to a nation that works.”
The Founder and President of One Love Foundation, Chief Patrick Eholor, said, “It is funny when you ask if I am satisfied with the effort made by the government so far. So far what we’ve had is a complete or if you like a comprehensively abysmal performance by government at all level.
“The federal government said they said billions feeding vulnerable children during the lockdown; did you see them feeding any in your neighborhood? They said youth empowerment with N-Power; Can N30,000 feed any family in Nigeria?
“Well, I have said it countless times, we need to diversify the economy by investing in Agriculture, health and vocational education. The government should spend heavily to on Agriculture and Vocational skills to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
“It is funny when those in government share #5,000 every election trying to fool the masses. This mentality can never lift the nation out of poverty. Overall, I rate the government very low.”
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said, “To change this narrative, a lot falls on the government’s table. They must take deliberate steps to alleviate the sufferings of the people through transparent social intervention schemes, reduction in the price of critical goods, develop infrastructure and monetary policies to support foreign direct investments and home grown businesses, as a matter of urgency address corruption at all levels and ensure proper management of all recovered assets for the benefits of the victims of corruption.
“The citizens must take decisive decisions at the polls to elect visionary leaders who will save the country from imminent collapse and deliver the dividends of democracy.
“Government must contain all security risks (banditry, insurgency and kidnapping) to reduce the loss of life, food, and livelihood and increase our chances of attracting investments. Our lawmakers must play an important role in effective oversight and ensure transparency and compliance of government programs and projects.”
The Director Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, said, “Nigerians have been very tough and resilient. The pressures of inequality, divisiveness, insecurity, unemployment, poverty and poor access to healthcare are all-sufficient to drive whole populations crazy. That said, the situation requires a total overhaul of the broken socioeconomic and political systems.
“The entire system is broken. We have to go back to square one. The wasteful political system, the economic system run with the very short-term vision, and others. We have to have a clear picture of the future.
“I believe the youths are beginning to dream as we see in the #EndSARS movement. But we need to see the demands moving into fundamental issues like environmental justice – the very baseline for a society where the majority of our compatriots are engaged in informal businesses and family farming.
“We need total rethinking, total transformation, with restructuring as one of the initial steps.”
The Executive Director, Yiaga Africa, Samson Itodo, said, “I think the Federal Government can accelerate the process of poverty reduction by one, cutting down the cost of governance and channeling resources into a human capital investment like education, health and creating more economic opportunities.
“Secondly, enhanced social security; the lack of transparency in the social investment program undermines FG efforts to poverty reduction.
Thirdly, “long term development planning guided by accurate data and technology.”
President and Founder Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria, PMNN, Yahaya Ndu, said, “First of all I must say that to my mind, Nigeria is the most richly endowed nation on earth and that is it a shame that poverty is ravaging our country.
“A Korean statesman once said: In Korea, God gave us nothing but human beings; but for Nigeria- God gave you everything- what stands between you and greatness?
“Nigerians are among the most intelligent human beings on earth and Excel in every field of human endeavors but the system of governance we run stultifies our minds, bodies, and souls and makes everything around us so dysfunctional.
“Just take a look at some details of the 2021 budget. The budget for education for the country is by far less than the budget for the National Assembly. As you can see healthcare budget is N46 billion for a nation of 200 million people.
“N48 billion for a nation of 200 million people, but N125 Billion for Nigeria’s federal legislators of 465 people. So is it any wonder that poverty is ravaging our country?
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“Look at the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the whole world. While other nations are trying everything to make things easier for their citizens we are strangely doing our best to make things more difficult for the average person.
“However the rulers of Nigeria are totally shameless. Greed has made them utterly insensitive to the plight of their fellow countrymen and women. The average manner of the National Assembly collects about a thousand times the salary of the average Nigerian worker and still claims to be a public servant when he is more of the master and Lord of the public.
“Nigeria is a country where the take-home pay for the average worker cannot take him home. Yes, it is no wonder that we have overtaken India as the poverty capital of the world. We always excel in negative things. Shame and shame on all of us.”
Meanwhile, according to the Administrator, United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, Achim Steiner, despite the monumental challenges the world now faces, “the COVID-19 pandemic presents us the world with a unique opportunity to press the “reset button” towards a more sustainable future.
“On the ground in 170 countries, UNDP is not only helping countries to merely recover from the pandemic’s devastating socio-economic effects but to help them to build forward better towards an inclusive green economy — for instance through our Climate Promise.
“In a wider sense, we must transform our unsustainable production and consumption patterns, decouple economic growth from environmental degradation — and tackle the structural causes of social and environmental inequalities in our societies.
“Doing so will help us to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals – and to realise our global ambition to finally end poverty in all of its forms, everywhere.”