A World Bank official said Tuesday that 100 million Nigerians are extremely poor
The Nigerian presidency has faulted a report by World Bank that 100 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty.
World Bank’s country director, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, had said on Tuesday that 100 Million Nigerians live in extreme poverty.
She gave the remark at the bank’s Country Programme Portfolio Review in Enugu.
Ms Marie-Nelly said the number of Nigerians living in destitution makes up 8.33 per cent of the total number of people living in destitution worldwide.
“One billion two hundred thousand people live in destitution out of which 100 million are Nigerians. Inequality is rising in many developing nations,” she said.
“To promote shared prosperity, the goal is to promote income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population in each country. In Nigeria, 63 per cent of the population live on less than $1.25 a day,” she said of the bank’s plan to lower that margin.
But Chief Economic Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Nwanze Okidegbe, on Sunday described the statement as “spurious and astonishing”, and a contradiction the bank’s previous position on the level of poverty in Nigeria.
He recalled that during a visit to Nigeria in May 2013, World Bank’s vice president for Africa, Makhtar Diop, had declared that poverty in Nigeria has fallen under this administration from 48 percent to 46 percent.
“Country Director’s imagery of 100 million Nigerian destitute seems to be based on a much higher poverty rate than that of her boss. The question that arises from this absurdity therefore is: who is right?” he asked.
Mr. Okidegbe said economic and social realities disprove the World Bank’s position even more.
“Second, according to the World Bank itself, to live in extreme poverty is to live on less than $1.25 per day, including the cost of accommodation, clothing, feeding, and other incidentals. $1.25 per day translates into N200 per day (or N6, 000 per month),” he said.
“On feeding alone, a loaf of bread costs more than N200 in many parts of Nigeria while a plate of food, even from a roadside food vendor, costs about the same amount. More also, there are about 112 million active GSM lines in Nigeria.
“Even accounting for those who own more than one phone and netting out nearly 44 percent of Nigerians who are under 15 years (and mostly do not have phones), this is not a description of a country with 100 million destitute living in extreme poverty”.
He said the Jonathan administration has undertaken critical reforms in all key sectors of the economy to create jobs and reduce poverty.
“Indeed, Nigeria was recently honoured for meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing people living in absolute hunger by half, well ahead of the 2015 target set by the United Nations. On average, about 20 percent of the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) is,” he said.
“Allocated exclusively to protecting the poor through different types of social safety nets. One important area of success is the Conditional Grant Scheme with total conditional cash transfer to almost 40,000 households and recruitment of over 2,000 new health workers working on improving maternal and child health.”
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