Poverty in Nigeria – Poverty Reduction Programme in Nigeria
Poverty in Nigeria - A review of earlier works done in the area of poverty, its reduction and challenges are made in this chapter. A lot has been documented on the issue of poverty and strategies for reducing it. As a result, the review here under is rather selective than exhaustive.
Based on its multi-dimensional nature, poverty is usually perceived using different criteria. This accounts for the numerous attempts in defining poverty, each definition tires to captures the perception of the author or the poor as to the meaning of the term. Obadan (1997:2) posits that poverty can be viewed from an economic perspective as a situation of low income and or low consumption. This approach has often been used for constructing poverty lines, which represent the values of income or consumption necessary to purchase the minimum standard of nutrition and other necessities of life. Going by this definition, people are said to be poor when their measured standard of living, calculated in terms of their incomes of their consumption pattern, fall below the poverty line. The poverty line is an imaginary index that is used to separate the poor. Those who cannot afford the basic necessities of life that can make living meaningful from the non-poor those who can afford the basic needs of life such as adequate healthcare, good nutrition, education, etc.
From the socio-psychological perspective, poverty is seen in terms of deprivation, lack of access to poverty such as land, inadequate medical facilities, poor living condition, lack of access to educational facilities, and the inability to realize one’s potentials and aspirations.
According to the World Development Report (1990), poverty is the inability to attain a minimum standard of living. This means that people whether living in slums around Urban areas or in villages at the territorial level are said to be poor if what they earn cannot purchase for them the basic necessities of life as we have already enumerated earlier in this section. For such people who are classified as poor, their incomes, even if adequate for survival, fall radically behind that of the community regards as acceptable Gillbraith (1997).
According to Osamani (1992:vii), the elementary aspects of being poor include hunger, inadequate healthcare, unhygienic living conditions, and the stress and strain of precarious living. Being poor means being deprived of full nutritional capabilities, that is, the capabilities to avoid premature mortality, to live a life free from avoidable morbidity, and to have energy for work and leisure.
Thus, poverty predisposes the poor to disease, hunger, deprivation, want and premature death.
One of the many theories of poverty that fits the Nigerian situation is the functionalist theory (Sheriffdeen 1997, in poverty alleviation in Nigeria), which draws a connection or series between economic inequality and the division of labour within our society as a function of the job performed by the individual and attendant reward. The thrust of this theory is that because of the marked inequalities in our society that create a gap between the rich and the poor, and given different jobs that individuals perform in our society and the attendant reward that accrue, categories such as “ the poor “ and the “ non-poor”, develop. Given the capitalist system that we operate, the non-poor continue to exploit the poor, thus widening the gap between these two classes and by extension worsening their state of despondency.
A corollary to the above is the capitalist entrepreneurial theory (Sheriffdeen 1997) which posits that the exploitation of the poor by means of poor conditions of services and low wages, account for the high incidence of poverty in Urban centers. In Nigeria, the ruling class uses state resources to exploit the workers. Poor salaries, which cannot purchase the basic needs of life, are paid to workers.
Obviously, poverty induces corruption and by the same token, corruption induces poverty. Therefore, one shares in the postulation of the corruption concept of poverty articulated by Sheiriffdeen (1997). In Nigeria, it appears every body that seeks elective office does so with the sole intention of accumulating wealth for himself and his family. Public office is seen as an avenue to have a slash of “ The national cake”. Public office holders want only to embezzle, acquire property and divert public funds into private uses at the expense of majority of the people. The next effect of political corruption is that resources, which are supposed to be used to ameliorate the poor conditions of living of the majority in terms of provision of health, education and other social facilities, are hijacked by the ruling elites. By the same token, funds that are meant to boost the productive base of the Nigerian economy are misdirected, far away from the production centers.
S. H. Huntington (1998:59) postulates that “in modernizing states such as Nigeria, poverty interfaces with corruption, and corruption subsists because of weak political institutionalization”. As a modernizing state, with weak political institutions, lack and the capacity to curb the excesses of personnel and parochial interests exhibited by public office holders. Public office-holders therefore cash-in on these weakness and loot as much money they can from the national tilts. Such stolen public funds are stashed away in foreign vaults, far which were supposed to be invested in the soft sectors of the economy such as the health, education and agriculture are stashed in foreign banks across the world (Adams 2001:178).
Thus, the failure of most social and economic policies in Nigeria since independence, lends credence to the fact that the distribution of wealth, income and other social benefits is hampered by the corrupt practices of the political elites who most times, deliberately distort the processes of implementation of social, economic, even industrial policies that have direct impact on the masses.
Moreover, Narayan and Petesh (2002:10) posit that, “poverty also may look quite different, seen through the eyes of a poor man or a woman”. Narayan el al, (2003:30) captured the definition from the point of view of the poor in different countries in the following perspectives. “Poverty is humiliation, the sense of being dependent, and of being forced to accept nudeness, insults and indifference when we seek help”.
Another of such views of the poor is that expressed by a poor man in Kenya in 1997 as reported by Narayan et al (2003:50) thus: “ Don’t ask me what poverty is because you have met it outside my house”. Look at everything and write what you see. What you see is poverty.
The above reflects is just description of the various perceptions of poverty at least from the poor. Poverty could denote a state of deprivation as was captured by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Economic co-operation and development (1992:3) as “not having enough to eat, a high rate of infant mortality, a low life expectancy, low educational opportunities poor water, inadequate healthcare, unfit housing and lack of active participation in the decision making process”. It could also denote “absence or lack of basic necessities of life or lack of command over basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter”. Glaring detects in the economy, etc” as stated by Aluko (1995).
The attempts made at defining poverty as captured above could be referred to as mere outline of the features or characteristics of poverty. In buttressing the difficulties encountered in arriving at a common and generally accepted definition of poverty, Aboyade (1997) posits that there seems to be a general agreement that poverty is a difficult concept to handle and that it is more easily recognized than defined. Even attempts made to categorize some specific areas at which poverty could be viewed are fraught with lack of agreement for instance, the Organization for Economic co-operation and Development (OECD) guideline on poverty reduction (2002:29) stressed that “an adequate concept of poverty should include all the most important areas in which people of either gender are deprived and perceived as incapacitated in different societies and local context. It should encompass the cause links between the core dimensions of poverty and the central importance of gender and environmentally sustainable development “. It failed to define poverty, rather it listed the core dimension a definition of poverty should cover to include economic, human, political, socio-cultural and protective capabilities on the other hand, Narayan et al (2000: 29-30), in buttressing that poverty is multidimensional, say that “definitions of poverty and its causes vary by gender, age, culture and other social and economic contests. They define poverty from such categories as: lack of power and voice thus, “you know good but you cannot do good”. That is such a person knows what should be done, but has not got the means. In the same vein, an elderly poor man in Uganda, explained in his own word, the forces of poverty and impoverishment are so powerful today. Government or big churches can only manage them. So we now feel somewhat hopeless, it is the feeling of helplessness that is so painful, more painful than poverty itself.
Adopting categorization as a basis for defining poverty, it generates even more disagreement as to what constitutes poverty at different levels of society such as the individual, household, community, district and regional. OECD (2000:33) states that dimension and measures of poverty may be consistent, which complicates the task of identifying the poor lending credence to the divergent views on poverty definition, the world Bank (1999:10) states that participatory studies have cumulatively shown that the poor also experience and understand their poverty in terms of range of non-material and intangible qualities such as insecurity, lack of dignity and status or lack of prosperity or opportunity”. These qualities and characteristics of poverty differ markedly by social group and by geographical and political economic contexts.
Expressing poverty from the gender dimensions, the World Bank (1999:12) states that “in some instances, the gender dimension that is powerless were articulated with implications for both men and women, boys and girls. It went further to illustrate with one Ayekale Odogun in Nigeria where poor households were seen to be characterized by the inability of men to fulfill their role as provider“. According to OECD (2000:32) the processes causing poverty affect men and women in different ways and degrees. Female poverty is more prevalent and typically more severe than male poverty. It stated further “that women suffer violence by men on a large scale. They are more likely to be illiterate as well as politically and socially excluded in their communities. Hence, abilities of women to overcome poverty are generally different from those of men”.
Poverty can be categorized as either relative or absolute on one hand, while on other, it can be classified as permanent or transit. Aliyu (2000:2) explained absolute poverty to be the condition where an individual or group of people are unable to satisfy that basic requirements for human survival in terms of education, health, housing, feeding, employments, transportation etc. Supporting the above meaning of absolute poverty, Aboyade (1997:7) defined it thus: “the insufficient or total lack of necessities facilities like food, housing, medical care, education, social and environmental opportunities, neighborhood `amenities and transport facilities”. It is a basic fact that what is considered poverty may be seen in relative terms. Relative poverty according to Aliyu (2003:2) “is a situation where an individual or group of people can be said to have access to his or their basic needs, but is comparatively poor among persons or the generally of the community”.
Poverty may be viewed from the dimension of permanency or transience. This dimension differentiates poverty based on time or duration on one hand, and distribution as to widespread individual or concentrated on the other hand.
According to Aliyu (2003:2-3), several types of poverty may be distinguished depending on such factors as time or duration (long or short term or cyclical) if the poverty is widespread throughout a population, but the occurrence itself is of limited duration and distribution (widespread concentrated, individual) if it involves relatively permanent insufficient of means to secure basic needs. The condition may be so general as to describe the average level of life in a society or it may be concentrated in relatively large groups in an otherwise prosperous society.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (1999:1) views poverty as “a state where an individual is not able to cater adequately for his or her basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, it is unable to meet social economic obligations, lack gainful employment, skills, assets and self esteem and has limited access to social and economic infrastructure such as education, health, portable water and sanitation and consequently has limited chance of his or her welfare to the limit of his or her capabilities.
The Concept of Poverty In Nigeria
Statistical data from the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) indicates that by 1960, poverty covered about 15% of the population of Nigeria and by 1980, it grew to 28%. By 1985, the extent of poverty was about 46% and dropped to 43% by 1992. By 1996, poverty incidence in Nigeria was estimated to be about 66% in a total population of about 110 millions.
According to the United Nations Reports (1999) Nigeria’s Human Poverty Index (HPI) was only 41.6%, which places the country among the 25 poorest nations in the world.
The word poverty is a socio-economic phenomenon that expresses a particular form of social life.
The international encyclopedia of social science, poverty which implies merely not only economic inequality, but also social integrity, that is, a relation of integrity, dependence or exploitation. Secondly, pamperism which describes a category of people who are unable to maintain themselves at the level conventionally required as minimal without outside assistance. Moral poverty which suggested whether poverty is morally acceptable and what status it counters or prevents and hinders the supposedly poor man from enjoying.
Poverty is a disease, but only that who falls within the line knows the pain. Maine Curette states that “do you know what it is to be poor? Not poor with arrogant poverty complained of by certain people who have five thousand years to spend and who yet swear that they can hardly make both ends. But really poor, right poor, cruelty hideous by poor, with a poverty that is graceless and miserable? This is the grinding course that keeps down noble aspiration under a load of ignorable care, that is the rural cancers that eats into the heart of an otherwise well inter twined human creature”.
According to Alfred Marshall “ the study of the cause of poverty is the study of the degradation of a large part of human kind”.
From the above quotations, it is clear that poverty is the symptom of the down graded class of the society, which constitute more than 60% of the world population and they exist in classes. That is the poor and extremely poor, just as Karl Max classified it to be proletariat and lumped proletariat.
On the cause of poverty, Gelding and Middleton states that “there was after all the authority of St. Paul’s harsh in function, that if man do not work neither does he at, the implicitly theory of unemployment was thus a moral or psychological one, equating lack of work with lack of effort, therefore there is assurance that study poor should be working, a living example to the idle poor is that poverty is the wages of sin available as a result of individual indolence.
Incidence and Effect of Poverty In Nigeria
Official statistics show that in 1980, the average national poverty incidence was 28.1 percent of the population. The distribution of the incidence across the states of the federation shows a maximum of 49.5 percent recorded for plateau (and Nassarawa which was extracted from plateau). This means that every state in Nigeria had a poverty incidence of less than 50 percent. By 1985, the average national poverty incidence had risen to 46.3 percent, with the maximum of 68.9 percent recorded in Bauchi (and Gombe which was carved out of Bauchi). As at 1996, the average national poverty stood at 63.6 percent with Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara (all old Sokoto state) recording the highest incidence of 83.6 percent followed by Bauchi and Gombe with 83.5 percent. As at 2000, Prof. Mike I. Obadiah in his paper (poverty Reduction in Nigeria (The way forward) noted that the incidence of poverty is believed to have risen to 70 percent at the national level.
The effects of poverty on the populace calls for government urgent attention and action so as to address the problem now before it will escalate into a bigger problem which will be difficult to address. The prominent effect of poverty is hunger and starvation leading to economic backwardness of the country. Unemployment is another effect of poverty just like Ebonyi state, the majority of the populace are unemployed and this will in turn lead to high crime rate.
The Programme of NAPEP in Ebonyi State
The target of the National Poverty Eradication programme is to completely wipe out poverty in Ebonyi state by the year 2010. The formulators of the programme have identified three stages to the achievement of this ambitions target. The first stage is the restoration of hope in the mass of poor in Ebonyi state. This involves providing basic necessities to all the neglected citizens especially in the rural areas. The second stage is the restoration on economic independence. The final is wealth creation.
From January 2007, NAPEP has embarked on much number of projects so as to reduce or ameliorate the unfavourable condition of the poor so far, about 140,000 youths have been trained in more than 190 practical hand on trades over a period of three months. Every trainee in this project was paid N3, 000 per month while N3, 500 was paid to each trainee. The training programme was packaged with the understanding that beneficiaries would subsequently establish their own business in line with the skill they have acquired. To actualize this, 5,000 beneficiaries were resettled with assorted tailoring and fashion design equipment. Also under the mandatory attachment programme for unemployed graduates, 40,000 beneficiaries were attached in 2001 each of who was paid a monthly stipend of N10, 000. The installation of equipment under the rural telephone project is currently being while the KEKE-NAPEP project is currently being actively implemented. The project offers.
- A vehicle with a passenger capacity of three people.
- A vehicle with a payload capacity of 320kg
- A vehicle whose top speed is up to 80km per hour
- A vehicle with a powerful diesel engine, and a fuel tank capacity of 10.5 litres
- A vehicle with adequate room for passenger’s luggage.
- A vehicle that is suitable for intra-city commuting and commercial passengers carriage, and
- A vehicle that has a low fuel consumption of 38km per liter.
The Challenge of Poverty Reduction Project in Nigeria
In spite of the numerous poverty reduction projects already embarked on by the different governments in Nigeria, poverty is still prevalent in the rural areas.
With well over 37 million Nigerians who are classified as poor and given a Gross National Product (GNP), per capital of less than $750 united state dollars, the concern of Olusegun Obasanjo, who took over the reins of leadership of the country in 1999, has been to reduce poverty to its barest minimum. Thus, no sooner than he assumed power than he announced Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) to offer micro-credit to semi-skilled and unskilled Nigerians as part of his administration’s plan to turn around the prostate economy. With about ten billion naira, it was hoped that the PAP will not only unemployed Nigerians hereby stimulating the productivity of rural dwellers (News watch, August 2000:10).
In line with this, the Obasanjo administration set up poverty alleviation committees in every state of the federation and the federal capital Territory to monitor and supervise the implementation of the poverty alleviation programme. As with other previous poverty alleviation programmes in the past and the present NAPEP, Obasanjo’s poverty reduction projects. Fell short of alleviating poverty in Nigeria
In the light of the above, the challenges facing poverty reduction strategies under Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration are as thus;
1) PDP (Peoples Democratic Party): PDP has worsen poverty particularly among the non PDP. Hence in Nigeria today, PDP has taken upper hand in the sense that if you made to reduce the level of poverty, give succour and hope to the poor and, or move towards some sort of wealth creation. Strategies, policies and plans have been articulated, programmes and projects have been formulated and executed over the years like Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), the Green Revolution, DFFRI and so on, but the programme failed to completely wipe out poverty because of some limitations such as:
i) The inadequate access to receive sponsor by those who are victims of poverty such as drought, floods, pest and war. This is caused by lack of well-conceived strategies and resources
ii) Inadequate fund for poverty reduction agencies to implement their programmes as the findings reveal that inadequate funding was listed as the severest problem by about 28% of respondents
iii) Inadequate involvement of the poor in the design of development programmes. This is often exacerbated by the non-involvement of the representatives of the poor communities or beneficiaries in the discussion, preparation, design and implementation of programmes that will affect them.
iv) Policy inconsistency
v) Lack of wider consultation with the stake holders.
vi) Mismanagement and financial indiscipline.
vii) Lack of adequate and effective co-ordination.
Gap in Knowledge
Poverty is an economic state: people are poor because they lack money and they lack, lack money because they are unable to sell their labour or because they are able, to earn only very small income. In other words, the cause of poverty is not the victim but the nature of the economic system and the way it deals with people.
The inability of NAPEP to completely eradicate poverty in Nigeria could be attributed to how wages, the minimum wage in Nigeria contributed to poverty because what they pay as salaries is not enough for many people to survive on. Age is closely linked to poverty. In Nigeria, the people who have retired in either public or civil service are not recognized in a better way rather the government sees them economically as “dependent ratio” in the population figure of Nigeria which only consume but not in any way produce.
The government retires their employees with low or without gratuity and pension. Seasonal employment: this mostly affects those with marginal skills. This means that these categories of people have no fixed income and may be before they get another job they must have consume what they saved
However, poverty is less a failure of the poor, than a failure of policy makes to grasp their potentials. As individuals, many of the poor are virtually unreachable. As member of associations and groups, they create their own channels for institutional access. The dynamics of poverty are reversible, but only in collaboration with the poor, themselves. The most valid spokesman of the poor are the poor themselves.
Economic Services and Assets: The lack of these things have been obstacles to poverty alleviation in the past
Change of Attitude Towards Poverty: Poverty can be chased out through collective effort. It is high time we stop deceiving ourselves that poverty is a result of laziness. It is nothing but deprivation which can only be alleviated through restructuring the entire social, economic and political set ups of the nation. Leaders should be selfless and patriotic in their polices and implementations.
Re-Distribution of Wealth and Income: This can be achieved by placing restrictions on the unreasonable accumulation of wealth by a few. This can be achieved by learning the culture of probing past leaders and if this is done and the guilt are punished, Nigeria will be better in reduction of poverty.
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This article was extracted from a Project Research Work/Material Topic “ASSESSMENT OF POVERTY REDUCTION PROGRAMME IN NIGERIA (A STUDY OF EBONYI STATE NATIONAL POVERTY ERADICATION PROGRAMME).”
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