By Yekeen Nurudeen
Lifting all Nigerians living below the extreme poverty line of $1.90 per day out of poverty for one year will cost about $24 billion, an international humanitarian non-governmental organisation, Oxfam has said, adding that the wealth of only five Nigerians can bail out the country..
The organisation in a report titled “Oxfam Nigeria Inequality Report” released on Wednesday said “this amount of money is just lower than the total wealth owned overall by the five richest Nigerians in 2016, which was equal to $29.9 billion.”
In the executive summary of the report, Oxfam remarks that Nigeria is still seen as Africa’s largest economy and one of the fastest-growing in the world despite the prevailing recession, lamenting that more than half of the population grapples with extreme poverty, while a small group of elites enjoys ever-growing wealth.
It maintained that poverty and inequality in Nigeria were not due to lack of resources, but to the ill-use, misallocation and misappropriation of such resources adding that a culture of corruption and rent-seeking combined with a political elite out of touch with the daily struggles of average Nigerians are also responsible for the high level poverty in the country.
“While more than 112 million people were living in poverty in 2010, the richest Nigerian man will take 42 years to spend all of his wealth at N1 million per day,” the report read.
According to Oxfam’s calculations, the amount of money that the richest Nigerian man can earn annually from his wealth is sufficient to lift 2 million people out of poverty for one year.
“Lifting all Nigerians living below the extreme poverty line of $1.90 out of poverty for one year will cost about $24 billion. This amount of money is just lower than the total wealth owned overall by the five richest Nigerians in 2016, which was equal to $29.9 billion” Oxfam said in the report.
According to the report , the scale of economic inequality in the country has reached extreme levels, noting that the inequality reflects in the daily struggles of the majority of the population in the face of accumulation of obscene amounts of wealth by a small number of individuals
It lamented that poverty in Nigeria is particularly outrageous as it has been growing in the context of an expanding economy where the benefits have been reaped by a minority of people, and have bypassed the majority of the population.
“Annual economic growth averaged over 7 percent in the 2000s, and yet Nigeria is one of the few African countries where both the number and the share of people living below the national poverty line over that period, increased from 69 million in 2004 to 112 in 2010, equivalent to 69 percent of the population. In the same period the number of millionaires increased by approximately 44 percent. Income inequality, as measured by the Gini Index, grew from 40% in 2003 to 43 percent in 2009.
“Regional inequality is high in Nigeria, and it translates into higher rates of poverty in the north-western states of the country. For example, in Sokoto State, 81 percent of the population is poor, while poverty incidence is much lower, at 34 percent, in Niger,” the report revealed .