President Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that while Nigeria’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few people living in 4 or 5 states and the FCT, about 150 million others are languishing in poverty in the remaining 31 states.
He, however, noted that with the successful conduct of the 2019 general elections, and the commitment and vision of those who emerged winners, policies are being put in place that focus on delivering prosperity to all Nigerians through enhancing security and eliminating corrupt practices in the public service for an improved economy.
Buhari, who addressed delegates at the opening session of the 25th Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#25) in Abuja, said, “A significant proportion of Nigeria’s prosperity today is concentrated in the hands of a few people living primarily in 4 or 5 states and the FCT. Some of the most prosperous Nigerians are here in this room.
“This leaves the remaining 31 states with close to 150 million people in a state of expectancy and hope for better opportunity to thrive. This, in the most basic form, drives the migratory and security trends we are seeing today both in Nigeria and across the region.”
President Buhari said he was more committed to driving economic prosperity as opposed to economic growth.
He noted that a prosperous country is one where majority of the citizens have an acceptable standard of living and a decent quality of life as opposed to a society with a few wealthy people.
Buhari also said in addressing population growth, security and corruption matters in developing economies, policies and programmes must focus on promoting inclusivity and collective prosperity.
“During the elections, almost all candidates proposed their vision for the economy and for the country. Our party, the All Progressives Congress, put before the country policies that focus on delivering prosperity to all Nigerians through enhancing security, eliminating corrupt practices in public service, supporting sectors that will create jobs, and promoting socially-focused interventions to support the poorest and most vulnerable among us,” he said.
The 2019 NES#25, has as theme ‘Nigeria 2050: Shifting Gears’.
Those attending include captains of industry, high profile federal and state government officials, the media and other relevant stakeholders.
Huge population a liability – Sanusi
The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, while speaking during a panel session of the summit, said Nigeria’s huge population was currently a liability to the country, but quickly added that it could be turned into assets.
The session focused on how demographic realities could be transformed into social and business opportunities as well as the implications on internal migration, sustainable peace and security.
“People talk that our population is an asset but we are yet to get there. Nigeria’s population is currently a liability because most of the root causes of problems such as kidnapping, armed robbery, Boko Haram, drug addiction are all tied to the population that we have and the question is how do you turn that into a productive one,” Sanusi said.
Summit gaining success – Ighodalo
Earlier in his remarks, chairman of the Nigeria Economic Summit (NESG), Dr. Asue Ighodalo, reeled out some of the summit’s previous successes to include the recommendation that caused the GSM revolution, the Pension Reform Act and the reforms in the agriculture among others.
He said Nigeria needed to rethink its development trajectory even as the NESG recommended a 31-year economic development plan to end in 2050.
He said the private sector was determined to lead the new vision if only government would provide the right enablers.
He also made a case against the perpetual deficit budget traditions. “Between the last summit and now, the real GDP growth rate improved marginally, but remained below our projections.
“We recorded a GDP growth rate of about 2% in the first half of 2019, and a decline in headline inflation from 15.1% to 11%. However, the rate of inflationary decline has slowed considerably, largely as a result of food inflation, which remained sticky at 13.2%.”
The NESG chairman said this had resulted in continued erosion of the real income of most people. “As such, there is an urgent need to address not just our perennial revenue-expenditure mismatches, but our overall productivity and growth as a nation.”
94.5m Nigerians live below poverty line – Oxfam
Elsewhere, Oxfam International has said about 94 million Nigerians live below the poverty line.
The Country Director, Mr. Constant Tchona, who gave the breakdown yesterday in Abuja, said at least 2.969 million Nigerians have been added to the growing extreme poverty rate in six months, between 8 April 2019 and 7 October 2019.
He said the figure now adds to the 91.5m Nigerians living below the poverty line thereby making the number of Nigerians living below the line to be 94.470m.
Tchona was speaking at the opening of the Oxfam’s Annual Programme Quality Review (PQR) Meeting themed ‘On the Road To Becoming an Influencing Hub’, meant to provide information on progress made on various programmes being implemented by Oxfam in Nigeria to participants and other programme stakeholders.
He, however, noted President Buhari’s intention to “lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years and set them on the path to prosperity” to “fundamentally shift Nigeria’s trajectory and place it among the world’s great nations.”
According to Tchona, the 94.5m Nigerians living below the extreme poverty line was based on the latest World Poverty Clock report.
He said those Nigerians living below poverty line depended on less than $1.90 daily benchmark or N684 daily.
He said, “the number of people that live below extreme poverty level as at April was 91,501,377, making Nigeria the world capital of poverty. As if that was not bad enough, at the moment, six months later, the number has jumped up to 94,470,535 people.
“What this means is that we have added 2,969,158 people more into extreme poverty. By comparison, this number is more than the population of Gambia and Cape Verde combined.”
He noted that at the current rate, Nigeria was not only off track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but many now believe that up to 25 per cent of the world’s extreme poor will live in Nigeria by 2030.
The Worldometer puts Nigeria’s total population at 200,963,599 people (about 201m), and is to become the world’s third largest country by 2050,” Tchona said.
He said if this comes to pass, Nigeria will shock the world if it achieved the SDGs.
Lagos, Kano among richest states
The top rich states with the highest number of middle class, according to reports include: Lagos, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Kano, Ogun and Anambra. In 2015, the UN global multi-dimensional poverty index also named Lagos, Ogun, Anambra, Ekiti, Edo, Imo, Abia and Rivers as top rich states.
Budgetary records show that Lagos passed a N874 billion budget for 2019, Akwa Ibom N672bn, Rivers N480bn, Delta N390bn, Kaduna N239bn, Kano N219bn, and Anambra presented N137bn budget for 2020.
These states account for Nigeria’s major industrial hubs, and oil and gas facilities concentration.
A lecturer at the Lagos Business School, Dr. Bongo Adi, told our correspondent on phone that the “major challenge is to bake a bigger cake. If we have a bigger cake, then we can now use tax policies, fiscal policies, and maybe social policies to redistribute,” he said.
“The cake may be even big but we have very high level of policies the orchestrated inequality. If you followed the Oxfam report of two years ago, it shows that 98 per cent of bank accounts in Nigeria are owned by just 2 percent of the population,” the don stated.