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Poverty in Nigeria

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Topics: Poverty
Poverty is an enemy of man; it humiliates and dehumanizes its victims, poverty holds sway, in the midst of plenty, a situation described in Nigeria’s political lexicon as a ‘bewildering paradox’. Poverty has been a serious challenge to governments in Nigeria. Its effects, which include lack and deprivation in the basic necessities of life, are worrisome. Apart from inducing lack of certain capabilities, such as that of being able to participate with dignity in societal endeavours, poverty has earned recognition due to its damaging effects on the affairs of humanity at the local, national and international levels. Indeed, poverty is a snare. Among the committee of nations, Nigeria has been described as poor. Even on the continent of Africa, using selected world development indicators, Nigeria is poorly ranked. Although several programs have been designed by the State to combat the scourge, their impacts on the poor population has been substantially impaired by corruption, weak administration, and poor inter-sectoral governance system. These, in the opinions of observers, have been the major challenges to poverty reduction in Nigeria. Poverty in Nigeria has been described as pervasive owing to the fact that as from 1981, the nation has witnessed a persistent increase in poverty level. This persistent rise in the nation’s poverty level prompted enunciation of poverty alleviation programmes as from 1986. Though the nation has implemented not fewer than eight of such programmes, available data reveals that over 50% of the nation’s population is still categorized as being poor. Countries like China and Vietnam whose poverty level was higher than that of Nigeria for about two decades ago have their poverty level between 5% and 20% as at today. It is being argued that corruption amongst other issues which has been seen as a way of life in Nigeria is largely responsible for the persistent poverty situation. This paper has attempted to evaluate the impact of governance on the nation’s poverty situation. Precisely, the paper tries to establish the extent to which the government has contributed in worsening the nation’s poverty situation as well as the various so-called “poverty alleviation policies’’ and programmes of government. In doing so, the paper employed descriptive analysis supported by empirical evidence and came to the conclusion that these policies failed to alleviate, instead elevated poverty in the country. The reasons for this include corruption in government and neglect of the target group – the poor, who were never considered during the formulation of these policies. The paper has been able to establish that these various issues have also negatively affected the operations of poverty reduction efforts in the country. These issues have not only robbed the nation of finances that should have been used for development that will benefit all citizens including the poor; but in some cases led to hijacking of funds meant for the poor by the privileged class thereby denying the poor the opportunity to grow out of poverty. In order to halt the galloping nature of Nigeria’s poverty situation, the Nigerian state should be reformed and repositioned; the environment created should be conducive for the development of market and civil society institutions; and inter-sectoral governance system should be encouraged. Also, it is the position of the paper that the only feasible option that can bring an end to these issues in the country so as attain the needed level of economic development which is capable of reducing and possibly eradicating poverty in the country is capital punishment (death penalty) since all other options implemented so far have not been successful. The paper also attempts to link the spread of poverty to some important variables such as bad governance, inequality corruption amongst many others. It has always been assumed that democracy promotes good governance and social equality; the two components that are necessary for addressing poverty. Nigeria’s failure in this regard provides an interesting lesson through which the phenomenon of poverty can be studied, its causes analyzed, and its effects revealed. The period covered is Pre-democracy (i.e. Military Rule) and from 1999 when democracy was restored till the present.
Keywords: Nigeria, Poverty, Crime, Human Development, Inequality, Bad Governance, Democracy, Violence.

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