80% of Nigerians not living above one-dollar-a-day poverty threshold, says ActionAid

The agency referred to a recent poll by NOI as simplistic.

ActionAid Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation, has refuted claims by NOI polls report that 80 per cent of Nigeria’s 167million population live above the one-dollar-a-day poverty threshold.

The Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Hussaini Abdu, noted that the conclusions of the poll are “too simplistic, as it did not consider the multi-dimensional approach to the definition of poverty.”

“The conclusions of the poll trivialized the true situation of poverty in the country and reduced it to responses from very few Nigerians with certain levels of privileges,” the group said. “The methodology of the poll is flawed and the report is misleading, especially to policy makers. The report is not only misleading, it is are shocking to note that NOI could use a poll exercise to insult the poor citizens and cavalierly wave people’s suffering, misery and trepidation.”

“The poll interviewed selected adults who own mobile phones and did not profile respondents in other ways, such as occupation, gender, age and specific locations. While it is a fact that there are over one hundred million active GSM lines in the country, the actual population of phone users has not been established given the fact that several people own more than two active mobile lines,” Mr. Abdu said.

He added that it is ridiculous for the report to state that most Nigerians now eat in canteens, pointing out that the concept of eating in canteens, restaurants or local food joints, is entirely foreign to many Nigerians. He also said that the items listed as being eaten by the respondents, including bread, rice, spaghetti and noodles are out of reach for most rural and urban poor in the country, adding that the staple food in most Nigerian homes is mainly local food crops such as grains, made up of millet, sorghum and cowpeas in the North and tubers such as yam, cocoyam in the South.

Mr. Abdu further stated that the report quoted an old National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, report, which was subsequently withdrawn.

“The national poverty rate has remained static since 2004 and has not increased by 10 per cent as claimed by the NOI report,” he noted.

Mr. Abdu further said, “The NOI report questions the method of applying Purchasing Power Parity, rather than calculate directly using the USD/Naira exchange rate when in fact this internationally applied method is tailored per country using Consumer Price Indices (CPIs) and gives greater accuracy and local grounding to the $1.25 per day measurement per country.

“The NOI Polls’ conclusion is not internally coherent. If the national average spent on food each day is N713, this would add up to N 21,390 per month. If 52 per cent of the population are living below the minimum wage of N18,000 per month (a figure cited in the report), how can the average adult be spending more than that just on food? What about their other basic needs, such as healthcare, education and care for dependants?

“NOI should avoid politicizing poverty. These statistics are about people who have been abused, debased and violated by the state – through policies that continue to exclude them and violate their fundamental human rights.”

Mr. Abdu urged NOI Polls to review its methodologies and consider a more robust approach to arriving at the level of poverty in Nigeria.

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