The reduction of poverty is the most difficult challenge facing any country in the developing world where on the average, majority of the population is considered poor. Evidences in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, show that the number of those in poverty has continued to increase, with an estimated population of roughly 216.7 million as of 2022, has over 90 million Nigerians living in abject poverty.
Unemployment, corruption, non-diversification of the economy, income inequality, laziness, and a poor education system can be considered to be some of the key factors contributing to poverty in Nigeria. This article analyzes these factors and gives ways to eliminate poverty in Nigeria through these factors, after reviewing some of the most recent contributions to the literature.
‘Poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to; not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living on marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation’. (Zorobabel, 2015)
Ways to Eliminate Poverty in Nigeria
- Through Equity: One of the major causes of poverty in Nigeria is inequality. By equality, this means that every person must have equality of results versus equality of resources. This may mean additional resources for furthest behind, in order to ensure that they have all they need to succeed.
- Investment in Education: According to UNESCO, if all students in low-income countries had just basic reading and writing skills (nothing else), an estimated 171 million people could escape poverty. If all adults completed secondary education in Nigeria, we could cut the poverty rate by more than half. Some of the key areas of focus for making sure that education is truly for all involves breaking down the barriers to education: creating access to school in remote areas, supporting teachers in their work to deliver quality education, and making sure that education is available to all children.
- Ending Hunger and Thirst: Simply eating three meals a day and getting a healthy amount of calories and nutrients can go a long way to breaking the cycle of poverty. When a person doesn’t have enough to eat, they lack the strength and energy to work. Therefore, improving access to clean water and food for all goes hand-in-hand with this solution.
- Empowerment Programs: it may seem like the simplest of answers, but cash and microfinance are two of the best solutions to poverty. A small start-up grant is all it takes to help a family living below the poverty line to launch a new business while keeping on top of their bills and keeping their children fed.
- Economic Diversification: Economic fragility due to overreliance on oil revenue is another important reason for the rising poverty levels in Nigeria. Poverty reduction can be aided by diversifying the Nigeria economy and enhancing value addition in the agriculture sector. The agriculture sector currently employs 70% of the country’s workforce, but by growing it, the government will be able to give even more specialized jobs, allowing individuals to advance up the employment ladder.
- Investment in Healthcare: As Nigeria continues to struggle with several crippling indicators, people are being forced into abject poverty every year as a result of needing to spend money on health conditions. As such, Nigeria’s basic healthcare system should be strengthened by the federal government.
- Income Redistribution: This essentially means that high-income earners (especially the political elite) will see their pay and allowances reduced, while low-and middle-income workers will see their pay and allowances boosted. This will increase overall productivity by increasing demand, will lead to more jobs and a decrease in poverty.
- Investment in Infrastructure: Infrastructure investment is one strategy to help the country establish a more integrated economy, which can help to alleviate poverty. Providing reliable power, a rail network, good roads, pipe-borne water, and intervention n in mass housing projects, would stimulate economic activity and empower more Nigerians.