On November 30, 2022, the Federal Government absolved itself of total blame concerning poverty in Nigeria.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, shifted some of the blame to governors of the 36 states. The minister said the governors should stop spending borrowed money on unnecessary projects and spend on projects that fulfill the basic needs of the people instead.
Agba said, “We appeal that governors should concentrate on building rural roads so that the farmers can at least get their products to the market.”
But are state governors really to blame? Or is this simply a case of the pot calling the kettle black? Let’s first understand the state of Nigeria’s poverty.
How’s Nigeria’s poverty level looking?
133 million Nigerians have been classified as “multidimensionally poor” by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
In its National Multidimensional Poverty Index report, 63% of Nigerians are poor due to a lack of access to health, education, living standards, employment, and security. This figure even exceeded the World Bank’s estimate of 95.1 million. Remember when our dear president said in 2019 he’d lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty?
Now that we understand the poverty level, who’s to blame?
Agba has already called out governors, but the Federal Government is in the driving seat of the public policies that determine Nigeria’s poverty level. Here are some examples:
In August 2019, Nigeria closed the land borders shared with neighbours like Chad, Cameroon, Benin, and Niger. This closure shut down the movement of goods between the countries and badly affected trading activities.
Buhari said he closed the borders to prevent the smuggling of goods, especially rice, into Nigeria. But a bag of rice that used to sell for ₦23,000 before the closure now sells for as high as ₦43,000. The border closure clearly just caused more suffering for Nigerians.
High cost of governance
One thing that should be seriously considered is the ridiculously high paychecks of politicians in the executive arm of government.
Why should there be hardship allowance, entertainment allowance, and even wardrobe allowance for people whose salaries already run into millions of naira? No wonder Nigerian lawmakers have been known to be one of the highest-paid in the world.
The Monetary Policy Rate (MPR)
The MPR is one of the measures the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) uses to stabilise prices in an economy. It’s the rate the CBN lends to commercial banks, and the commercial banks lend to their customers.
In order to reduce Nigeria’s inflation rate, the the CBN raised the MPR from 11.5% to 13% in May 2022 and 14% in July 2022. The result? The 18.6% inflation rate in June 2022 increased to 21% in October, the highest rate in 17 years. And what happens when you don’t have the money to buy essential goods? Poverty.
In the end, what Nigerians care about is that all levels of government coordinate their efforts and seriously start pulling Nigerians out of poverty.