The news that filtered in two days ago that Nigeria has overtaken India as the world poverty capital broke my heart and those of many Nigerians.
According to the report released by American research group, Brookings Institution, Nigeria has now taken over as the nation with the highest number of extremely poor people.
India used to occupy that ignoble position no thanks to its 1.3 billion populations which is the second largest in the world, second only to China.
That Nigeria with its mere 200million projected population is overtaking a country six times its population is a pointer to the shameful manner Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari has deteriorated.
According to the report, the number of Nigerians in extreme poverty increases by six people every minute.
The report read: “According to our projections, Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extremely poor in early 2018, and the Democratic Republic of Congo could soon take over the number two spot.
“At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall.”
87 million represents about 44 percent of Nigerians living without the possibility of affording to feed themselves once a day. It means that these humongous figures cannot feed themselves not to talk of their family members.
In the figures, women and children are mostly affected and a pointer to the fact the Nigeria economy is retrogressing with many Nigerians out of work and many others underemployed.
In March, the International Monetary Fund had issued a release to the effect that Nigerians are getting poorer and there is a need for a better approach to our economic reforms.
There is no other way to put it other than to say that President Buhari has failed us. During his campaign in 2015, one of his cardinal campaign points is poverty, which he said he would eradicate to the barest minimum. Almost three years into his government, Nigerians have not only experienced more bloodshed in the area of insecurity, they have also been pauperised further.
APC government has not only made our country more dangerous to live in but has also subjected a people brought low by extreme violence and terrorist attacks to the lowest point of severe poverty.
The basic necessity of life is food and if you cannot afford that how would you afford education, healthcare and housing.
It is a dangerous trend that is capable of adding to the insecurity trend of Nigeria.
The common adage that ‘a hungry man is an angry man’ suffices here as a man on the brink of poverty will be an easy tool in the hands of wicked people. Little wonder violence and insecurity have escalated in all parts of the country.
While Benue to Plateau, Nasarawa, and Kaduna States have to contend with communal clashes, the far northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa and Zamfara have been contending with carnages of Boko Haram insurgency, while some western and eastern states have suffered from a combination of farmer/herdsmen bloody scuffles and ransomed kidnappings, the nation now have to run with a battered economy and poverty. It is indeed too much for a people to bear. The people are hungry and anger has set in.
President Buhari had boasted that its administration will open up employment opportunity for 60 percent of Nigerian youths, but his administration has fallen short of that given that many educated Nigerian youths have been decimated into jobs fit for unskilled and uneducated people.
Out of 100 ‘okada’ (commercial motorcycle) or ‘keke’ (commercial tricycle) drivers you find on the street of Lagos, half of them are in possession of higher institutions certificates. They have resorted to these jobs because suitable jobs are not available for them.
It is yet to be seen what the Buhari administration is doing to alter this downward trend. He talks about fighting corruption and pushing more money into indigenous farming to boost employment and food production while reducing reliance on foreign goods and services and thereby overreliance on foreign exchange, but it has remained rhetoric without action and impact.
Whatever President Buhari and his ministers have been talking about to have achieved is not concrete if it has not change the lives of Nigerians.
Buhari has been asking Nigerians to sacrifice now to benefit later but the question is “what has government sacrificed”?
Buhari has not stopped his undue medical tourism and neither has any member of his cabinet. The National Assembly still go home with their huge monies every month and have not dropped their insatiable appetite for lavish lifestyles and ostentatious goods and services abroad.
They are not affected by the economic decline but largely passed the buck of the problem to Nigerians whose back are already feeling the barrage of taxes, stamp duty and higher VAT.
With another election around the corner, Buhari is now engrossed with re-election and does not even have time for Nigerians or the economy.
My candid opinion is that he should not run for re-election following the failure of his government. Buhari has shown that he has no answer for the problems confronting this country, rather he has escalated them. President Buhari is said to be a noble man and should do what is noble and leave the scene for another to try. That is what a man of integrity will do.