The Face Of Poverty In Nigeria

The Face of Poverty in Nigeria is a publication compiling data and analysis that explores the poverty challenges Nigerians face today.

The research project supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and the Yusuf Bala Usman Institute, expands on Usman’s seminal observation of the impending risks Nigeria faces in 1986 in his book Nigeria Against the IMF: The Home Market Strategy. Dr Usman would be saddened but not surprised by the statistical and physical depth of poverty and misery Nigerians have sunk into since then.

Based on focus interviews with 55 people, comprising 26 women and 29 men, within the ages of 30 to 73 across all regions of the country. Majority of those interviewed were in the age category of 40 to 60, followed by those within ages 30 to 45, and about eight interviews above 61 years. The interviewees have varying degrees of education, occupations, ethnicities and are urban and rural dwellers. Their responses while of generic importance as it puts into context the limits of their individual circumstances in view of the nation’s poor management but lays no claims to generalizable factual certainties. The findings are indicative of certain trends and conditions, useful insights that can shed light on the ways individuals in Nigeria cope with poverty.

To determine the impact and level of poverty amongst Nigerians, the research focused on three parameters, food, shelter / housing and education. Heart wrenching narratives from respondents show about 52 percent can afford two square meals a day, while 20 percent eat once to zero meal per day. Rising inflation since the onset of COVID 19 pandemic till date, an Abuja respondent decried, meant that N500 is practically meaningless in the market.

For shelter, most of the interviewees live in homes that are congested, with inadequate facilities, substandard structures and oftentimes uncertainty over their occupancy. The structures vary from mud to zinc sheets or wood, uncompleted buildings and many of them without access to water or electricity, whether rented, self-owned, loaned or squatting, ‘sometimes with as many as nine persons or more in a room’ ( p.51).

As for education, only 42 percent of respondents were able to educate all of their children to various educational levels, 11 percent have not sent any of their children to school, while others simply could not afford to.

Besides endemic corruption, other causes of distress that fosters poverty in the country include effects of climate change on farming and herder communities, and land grabbing.

In the final chapters, the report recommended intensification of campaigns for child spacing to create better situation for the good health of women and children; improved and expanded education for girls and women; addressing desertification, soil erosion and other impacts of climate change, democratization of local institutions that will incorporate and give voice to the users of the land among others.

Drs Usman and Olusegun Osob’s 1976 work titled The Minority Book and Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria highlights the urgent need to address poverty in Nigeria “lawlessness and corruption have become so pervasive and endemic in all sectors of state, society and economy that any strategy of change that is short of the ‘root and branch’ overthrow of the existing order is doomed to fail.

Rather than getting stuck in the negativity, The Face of Poverty in Nigeria should be the grim reality that galvanizes systemic change in the country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button