Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Nigerian Poverty

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, yet three in every five Nigerians live in poverty. Inequality has reached such extreme levels that the country’s five richest men – worth $29.9 billion – could lift 86 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty for one year. Worse still, poverty continues to rise, as recent reports suggest that Nigeria may become the country with the most poor people in the world by 2018.

In a country where over 60% of the population live in poverty, our lawmakers, a fraction of that population are some of the highest paid in the world earning as much as $118,000 a year. This high cost of governance comes at the expense of infrastructure and similar investments. Similarly, widespread bribery and corruption, whether in the form of withholding the salaries and pensions of civil servants, nepotism, or greasing the palms of police officers, continue to redistribute income away from the masses.
Regional inequality in Nigeria is striking. Three of the country’s thirty-six states – Kano, Lagos, and Rivers – are home to numerous industries and large markets with Lagos State alone accounting for over 25% of national economic output. Together these states are home to 17% of the country’s population and counting.  The states are victims of mass emigration; every hour, 86 people migrate into Lagos, that’s over 2,000 people in a day!
 The rural-urban divide is even more pronounced. According to the 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, for every wealthy man you find in a rural area, there are nine wealthy men in an urban area. Rural dwellers perform worse on education and health outcomes as fewer children attend schools in rural areas (52%) than urban areas (71%) at each level of schooling. And more infants die in rural areas (86 per 1,000 live births) than urban areas (60 per 1,000 live births). In line with the rural-urban dichotomy, poverty in Northern Nigeria (67%) is significantly higher than in the South (55%).
   In the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap report, Nigeria ranked 122 out of 144 countries in its efforts towards increasing participation and expanding opportunities for women. Although women make up 49% of the population, they are under-represented in almost all areas – economy, governancefinance, etc. – to society’s detriment.

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