By Peter Egwuatu
There are indications that Nigeria’s poverty level may have further deteriorated as the latest reports of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA, shows a 10 percentage point rise in the number of the extreme poor in the country against the 2019 report of the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS.
NECA’s report says that the number of citizens in extreme poverty now stands at an estimated 102 million, representing 50 per cent of the Nigeria’s estimated population of about 205 million, as against the 40 per cent reported by NBS in October last year.
*This comes at the backdrop of the World Bank forecast that global extreme poverty is expected to rise in 2020 for the first time in over 20 years as the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic compounds the forces of conflict and climate change, which were already slowing down progress in poverty reduction efforts around the world.
“Financial Vanguard’s findings from the data obtained from NECA revealed that the total number of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria now stands at 15 percent of the total number of people living in extreme poverty world-wide.
“In the latest annual report of NECA, its Acting President, Taiwo Adeniyi, said: “With COVID-19, the figure could only be imagined. It is practically impossible to separate unemployment from poverty. The longer people stay out of employment or any reasonable means of income, the higher the rate of poverty.
“Two years after it was reported that Nigeria had surpassed India as the nation with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty across the world, the country’s poverty ranking continues to surge.”
*Adeniyi stated further: “The World Poverty Clock, a web tool based on World Data Lab’s global poverty model, estimated in June 2018 that 86.9 million Nigerians are living on less than $1.90 a day. That number has increased by over 15 million in the past two years, according to new figures published by World Data Lab on May 26, 2020.”
*The NBS in a report about poverty and inequality from September 2018 to October 2019, had said 40 per cent of people in the continent’s most populous country live below its poverty line of N137,430 ($381.75) a year. It said that represents 82.9 million people.
“In Nigeria, 40.1 per cent of total population were classified as poor. In other words, on average, four out of 10 individuals in Nigeria has real per capita expenditures below N137,430 ($352) per year,” it added.
The NBS said it did not include Borno, the state worst hit by the decade-long Boko Haram armed uprising, because many areas there were not safe to reach.
According to the report, 52 per cent of people in rural areas live in poverty, compared with 18 per cent in urban parts of the country.
It stated: “The highest poverty levels were in the northwest state of Sokoto, where 87.7 per cent of people live under the poverty line compared with 4.5 per cent in commercial hub Lagos state, which had the lowest rate.”
World Bank’s universal perspective
The World Bank noted that poverty reduction has suffered its worst setback in decades, after nearly a quarter century of steady global declines in extreme poverty.
Specifically, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic would push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, depending on the severity of the economic contraction.
It stated this in its biennial ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report,’ released ahead of the 2020 virtual Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The bank had in June, predicted that there would be 95.7 million Nigerians living below the poverty line by 2022, due to the impact of the virus.
It defined extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 a day, adding that it was likely to affect between 9.1 per cent and 9.4 per cent of the world’s population in 2020.
The report also finds that “many of the new poor will be in countries that already have high poverty rates. A number of middle-income countries will see significant numbers of people slip below the extreme poverty line. About 82 per cent of the total will be in middle-income countries, the report estimates.”