From Extreme Poverty to Multidimensional Poverty, what is the next “accolade” for Nigeria?
Every 11th of July has been set aside to mark “World Population Day” and this year’s report shows that Nigeria is the 7th most populous nation in the world with about 200 million people.
Just last year, Nigeria was declared the poverty capital of the world, overtaking India. To break this “trophy” down for easy understanding, it means the country has more people in the world who are living in extreme poverty (this widely refers to an income below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day). Now, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says slightly over 98 million Nigerians are living in multidimensional poverty.
Multidimensional poverty is defined as the measure of lack which encompasses the various deprivations experienced by poor people in their daily lives – such as poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standards, disempowerment, poor quality of work, the threat of violence, and living in areas that are environmentally hazardous, among others.
Sometimes it may seem these figures are bloated but it is the reality on ground. My fear is that if the projections for our population to double by 2050 actually happens, Nigeria may not be capable to embrace such with the current trend of events.
There are without doubts so many causes of poverty- unemployment, corruption, lack of education, lack of sound economic/social/political infrastructure, lack of access to health care, conflicts, insecurity etc. But I would love to write more on the lack of sound economic/social/political infrastructure due to the ongoing menace witnessed in various parts of Nigeria.
President Buhari in his 2015 inauguration speech clearly stated that “Boko Haram is not only the security issue bedeviling our country. The spate of kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustlings all help to add to the general air of insecurity in our land. We are going to erect and maintain an efficient, disciplined people – friendly and well compensated security forces within an over – all security architecture“.
Four years later, the vices he mentioned have increased exponentially and the silence observed in the approach of these events is suggestive. I am not one to totally blame Fulani Herdsmen for any crisis that is reported but if some of these Herdsmen have caused havoc is a topic that shouldn’t be debated.
I have had the privilege of visiting the Adara people of Kajuru Local Government Area, Kaduna State and interviewed victims of the Herdsmen attack and I was shocked to see man’s inhumanity to man. No one can travel through Kaduna-Abuja road without confessing all of their sins incase they meet their end. Benin-Ore road is the new route of violent attacks.
I totally align with former President Obasanjo’s fears in the letter he wrote to President Buhari dated 15th of July, 2019- “I am deeply worried about … abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly, as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type..”
I have Fulani friends who are amazing and it is sad that such ill narrative is associated with their identity. I am not saying that other parts of the country do not have their identity spoilers, all I am saying is the time has come for President Buhari to prove his words- “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody“.
It was disheartening to hear Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, APC Chieftain, say that Mrs. Funke Olakurin’s murder was ordained by God and cannot be changed. It is high time our leaders started calling a thing by its name. Whether herdsmen or armed robbers, what matters is that a killing was done and justice must prevail. I am of the opinion that the security structure of Nigeria, from top to bottom, ought to be hauled. We cannot keep feeding ourselves with the delusion that all is well simply because none of our relatives have been affected directly or indirectly by any of these horrifying situations.
No individual or group of lawless people is greater than Nigeria. Until our leaders show commitment in reversing the pending doom awaiting our dear nation, we cannot progress. It is the right of citizens of any nation to be protected by its government and this fact should not be negotiated on any altar whatsoever. People now live in fear, losing their economic potential because no one knows who would be the next victim.
As countries world over are working progressively towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, would Nigeria be part of that awesome future or are we going to be given a more humiliating accolade worse that being a nation with multidimensional poverty? We can truly change this narrative but it is the collective responsibility of us all.
Apart from hauling the security structure, I also recommend that credible leaders be appointed for different positions. The ethnoreligious sentiments which have overwhelmed Nigeria has done us more harm than good. We need a responsive government indeed not just a social media facade. For Nigeria to be democratically successful, inclusion is of great importance because from the North to the South, East to West, there is no other Nigeria we have but this.
I humbly end this article with the words of President Buhari on May 29th, 2015, “For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people
if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch“. Mr. President, the time to act is now.
P.S: I sincerely sympathize with all who have lost their loved ones to the hands of inhuman fellows. May justice console you.