For everything Nigerian politicians say about combating and ultimately ending poverty, Nigeria remains a country where poverty is rife with quite a scandalous number of its 216 million people steeped in poverty.
Indeed, as per the World Bank, about 91 million Nigerians remain poor – a staggering number for a country that has elite aspirations to feature among the world’s developed countries.
An unequal distribution
However, poverty in Nigeria is not equally distributed with the scourge more densely concentrated in some parts of the country as opposed to other parts.
In deed,in Nigeria,there is a general consensus that poverty is heaviest in the North where a combination of poor economic resources and even poorer human capacity development have contributed such a fertile breeding ground for multifaceted and multifactorial poverty.
But there is another factor that has contributed to the poverty that continues to claim such generous scalps in the North.
In the North, poverty continues to feed off the scraps of insecurity and vice versa.They have each other well fed in a gripping symbiosis of sabotage.
As long and as fierce as insecurity has raged,it has held the North to ransom.
It was about 2009 that Boko Haram mustered its forces and launched a full scale scale assault on Nigeria.The months that immediately followed were as testing as any other as a country used to getting caught unawares even by the most basic of challenges struggled to muster an effective strategy.
It has been well over a decade now and many Nigerians especially in the most affected areas have been left with nothing but harrowing tales to tell.
Because many communities have been ruthlessly uprooted by terrorism leaving many livelihoods violently upturned,poverty has only deepened.
At each turn,the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has sought to assure Nigerians that it is deeply committed to ending the poverty that stalks the land.
The current government’s commitment to end poverty would appear to be most manifest in the various social investment programmes it has rolled out since it came on board.
The reach and effectiveness of the programmes remain debatable but what is now beyond debate is that many hitherto hopeless,helpless and hapless Nigerians have been thrown lifelines through the programmes.
Indeed,Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney-General recently stated that the government’s anti-corruption war had yielded the recovery of about $1 billion naira hitherto looted funds. According to the Attorney-General,a handsome portion of this amount had gone into pulling countless Nigerian families out of poverty.
CSOs’ curious glances.
It would appear however that many Civil Society Organisations in the North see differently from the government’s point of view about just how much it has done to alleviate poverty.
Recently,the Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks which is made up of about 3,000 civil society groups spread throughout out the 19 northern states stated that the over 500 billion naira disbursed by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to alleviate poverty in the country was not achieving the desired impact going by the high level of poverty in the North.
The group went further to call on the anti-graft agencies within the country to probe those who have have handled the disbursement of the funds in the North as according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), sixty-five percent of all of Nigeria’s poor, amounting to about 86 million people,were in the North.
It is worrying that such a flagship project of the current administration is said to have failed with the failures ensuring that poverty remains concentrated in the North which remains the part of the country most affected bby instability and insecurity.
If it is true that those who have handled funds meant to dig Nigerians out of poverty have indeed been helping themselves from it,then there can be no doubt about the fact that they deserve to be prosecuted and incarcerated.
The fight against poverty in Nigeria cannot afford to yield to the avarice of those for whom every opportunity is an opportunity to steal.