From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

Nigerians are alarmed at the report of the National Multidimensional Poverty Index (NMPI) which revealed that 63 per cent or 133 million Nigerians are poor.

According to the last census conducted in Nigeria in 2006 (16 years ago) Nigeria’s population was put at 200 million.

However, the report did not state if the population figure was based on the 2006 census or the World Bank’s estimate of 2016 million.

But whether it was based on Nigeria’s 200 million population or not, experts are alarmed at the report, saying that if urgent steps are not taken to address the ugly situation, the future is bleak for everybody.

President, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN), Dr Segun Adaju, said that the level of poverty would engender a high crime rate. He urged the government to do something urgently.

“The report that has just been released was arrived at with a yardstick called Multidimensional Poverty Index. Before now, the yardstick was the National Living Standard Survey (NLSS) which result said that about 82.9 million Nigerians are poor. That result covered only income or financial for people living below $1 per day. But the multi-dimensional poverty index uses many other factors which include, not only financial but education, child, health. That means that we have been underrating the level of poverty in Nigeria by just using economic factors alone. With MPI we have more poor people than we think and it’s a dangerous trend. It’s worrisome that we have 133 million Nigerians that are poor by that index. It’s something that any reasonable government or even individuals like you and I should be worried about.
There will be high increase in crime. Somebody who’s poor can do anything to survive. Government should sit down and take a drastic look at the situation. Otherwise, the future is a write-off,” he said.

In his remarks, Secretary General, Arewa Consultative Forum, Murtala Aliyu, advised that the federal government should devolve power to lower levels and that state levels must ensure that local governments work.

“My own take is that government should re-engineer governance itself and take activities towards the local governments. If that figure is correct that means the government should devolve power to lower levels and that state levels also must ensure that local governments work. When that happens poverty will drastically be reduced and quickly too.”

But the President, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, (COSEYL), Honourable Goodluck Ibem, deferred from report, arguing that in view of the level of devastations in the north as a result of insecurity, the figure is a far cry from what the report presented. He put the actual figure of poverty at 150 million instead of 133 million.

“That report is not accurate. About 150 million Nigerians are poor. In the north the level of insecurity has reduced many people to poverty. The northerners are mainly farmers. They are no longer going to farm. Insecurity there has made it impossible for them to go to farm. When somebody cannot fend for himself it means he’s poor. So, the level of poverty is higher than what the report is saying. So, poverty is as a result of poor leadership by the All Progressives Congress (APC). President Muhammadu Buhari brought poverty upon Nigerians. And it’s very unfortunate that the same person is also campaigning for his party to be reelected. I wonder what they have to tell Nigerians,” he said.

The World Bank in its 2016, poverty survey, had rated Nigeria the poverty capital of the world, saying that four in every 10 Nigerians live below the poverty income of $1.9 per day.

The World Bank’s sobriquet on Nigeria led to a series of surveys by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

According to the bank, with Nigeria’s population growth continuing to outpace poverty reduction, the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty is set to rise by 7.7 million between 2019 and 2024.

While the economy is projected to grow at an average of 3.2 per cent in 2022-2024, the growth outlook is subject to downside risks including further declines in oil production and heightened insecurity. Meanwhile, continued scarcity of foreign exchange and tighter liquidity could affect the economic activity in the non-oil sector and undermine the overall macroeconomic stability. The uncertainty is also expected to be accompanied by high inflation and continued fiscal and debt pressures.

Consequently, in 2018/9, NBS conducted a Nigerian Living Standards Survey (NLSS) where it reported that only 40.1 per cent Nigerians were poor.

The same year, the bureau conducted a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) which was a subset of NLSS and about 82.9 million Nigerians were reported to be in extreme poverty.

Notwithstanding the result of the survey, President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2018, promised to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. This implies that in his personal survey and calculation, there are more poor than the survey’s report, an indictment that led to another round of survey – the National Multidimensional Poverty Index (NMPI) – the result of which was launched on November 17, 2022.

The survey which was sponsored by European Union, Canada, United Nations, UNICEF, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and OPHI University in United States, revealed that out of over 200 million Nigerians, 133 million are multidimensionally poor.

This means that they experience deprivations in more than one dimension or in at least 26 per cent of weighted indicators.

According to the document, over half of the population are deprived in cooking fuel and high deprivations are also apparent in sanitation, time to healthcare, food insecurity and housing.

The report also explained that multidimensional poverty is higher in rural areas with 72 per cent of people poor compared to 42 per cent of people in urban areas.

Meanwhile, 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population live in rural areas while 80 per cent of poor people and their intensity of poverty is also higher – 42 per cent in rural areas compared to 37 per cent in urban areas.

Whereas 65 per cent of the poor (86 million) Nigerians, live in the north, 35 per cent (47 million) live in the South.

“Poverty levels across states vary significantly with the incidence of multidimensional poverty ranging from a low 27 per cent in Ondo to a high of 91 per cent in Sokoto.

“Seventy-one per cent of people living in households with at least one person living with a disability (PLWD) are poor compared to 62 per cent of people who live in households where no one is living with a disability” the report, said, adding that 29 per cent of all school-age children are not attending school and 94 per cent of all out-of-school are poor.

“Thus, 27 per cent of all school-age children are both poor and out of school (with no significant gender disparities)” the report said.

The document noted that the purpose of National Multidimensional Poverty Index (NMPI) is to be used as a policy tool but it’s not expected to reduce poverty.

“Leadership and a strong commitment to this purpose is needed to go further than measurement,” the document noted.

Excited with the result, Buhari promised that henceforth the National Multidimensional Poverty Index (NMPI) would be used to allocate resources for national development.

Speaking at the launch of the NMPI in Abuja, the president who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, also noted that the NMPI would be integrated in the National Social Register to facilitate better targeting for social intervention.

“At the federal level, these results will be used to influence the allocation of resources going forward, particularly to target sectors where most citizens suffer deprivations.

“The MPI is not our only data on poverty, combining the insights provided by MPI results with data from the income poverty measurement, it provides a holistic picture of poverty, and helps to shape the path towards shared prosperity,” he said.

According to the president, the multidimensional way of understanding poverty has been helpful in highlighting beyond monetary/income-based poverty measurements, the stark realities of poverty in each state and across the 109 senatorial districts.

The incidence of monetary poverty, he said, is lower than the incidence of multidimensional poverty across most states where 40.1 per cent of people are poor according to the 2018/19 national monetary poverty line, but 63 per cent are multidimensionally poor according to the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report.

Furthermore, the report shows that multidimensional poverty is higher in rural areas, where 72 per cent of people are poor, compared to 42 per cent of people in urban areas.

Buhari explained that globally, people that are most vulnerable to poverty are very often women and children, while commending the report for including child poverty.

“It is therefore commendable to see that this report also includes child poverty numbers. Children are a strategic population of concern, as nearly half of all Nigerians are children under the age of 18. Two-thirds (67.5 per cent) of children aged 0–17 are poor according to the National MPI, and half (51 per cent) of all poor people are children.

“This government recognises the importance of the data and the need to deploy it in sharing your story to a broad spectrum of stakeholders, both domestically and internationally. One way we have started this engagement was at the recent United Nations General Assembly where Nigeria co-hosted the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN) and shared lessons learned from other 100 member countries. However, this is just the start. Internally, we have now deployed a comprehensive Data Demand and Use (DDU) strategy to embed the use of evidence-based and data- driven poverty reduction mechanisms,” he said.

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