25 October 2013, Lagos – The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has attributed the continuous poverty in the country to bad governance and its attendant misplaced priorities, corruption and huge debt burden.
Sanusi, who stated this yesterday during a conference on effective strategies for reducing poverty and scaling up implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, in Nigeria, organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, also gave non-competitiveness of Nigerian goods in the international markets, few economic opportunities, conflict and violence, huge debt burden, low productivity, high rate of population growth, and suboptimal human capital as part of the poverty problem in the country.
The CBN governor, who was represented by Dr. Olaitan Mudashiru, lamented that Nigeria had no business being poor with the immense wealth in the country.
He said: “Nigeria which was one of the 50 richest countries globally in the 70s, is now one of the 25 poorest countries in the world presently. All will agree that Nigeria’s immense wealth is contradiction of the poverty level because the country has no business in being one of the poorest countries.”
He said poverty in Nigeria was mostly in the rural and peri-urban areas, which is as a result of poor linkages to the urban sector, lack of access to productive input, environmental degradation, slow agricultural growth, high population and poor infrastructural facilities.
Lack of proper education, according to him, could lead to poverty, adding that households where the head had no education were poorer than households where the head had a secondary school education.
Sanusi, however, said CBN’s intervention to end poverty included agricultural credit, SME finance, microfinance and infrastructure finance.
He said for the country to end poverty, it must also provide the necessary skills needed for each and every Nigerian to be economically productive, business capital, infrastructure capital, public institutional capital, as well as knowledge capital.
“The problem of poverty in Nigeria is well documented. Successive governments have made various efforts to alleviate poverty in Nigeria. To find a lasting solution to poverty in the country, we need to formulate working strategies aimed at making key investments in people and in infrastructure.
“We must make plans, build systems, be jointly accountable as well as provide an effective financing apparatus. Before we put the systems in place, we must at the same emphatically understand the plight of the over 70 million people living in abject poverty in the country.
“People that have often displayed bravery, fortitude and sense of responsibility by working hard with their available resources to see that they remove themselves and especially their children from the poverty trap. Let us do our best so that it can be said that it was our generation that healed Nigeria from this vicious circle of poverty.”
In a contrast to Sanusi’s claim, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Dr. Precious Gbeneol, said the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation, FOA, recently honoured Nigeria for halving the population of those who suffer from hunger way ahead of the 2015 deadline.
Gbeneol, who was represented at the event by Dr. Utabor Zubair Abdullahi, insisted that the poverty level in the country had drastically reduced and that the Nigeria was moving forward progressively.
He said: “Significant progress has been made in the drive to attain the MDGs. There has been a reduction from 2008 National Demographic Health Survey figure of 157 under five death per 1,000 live birth. Net attendance levels for basic schooling have risen massively when compare with baseline data.
“Government has proactive step to stern the security challenges in the country in order to ensure that out of school children return to the classrooms. Nigeria has achieved the gender parity target at primary and secondary education levels. In the North, incentives are being provided to ensure sustained female participation. Indeed the country is moving forward in all ramifications.
*Yemi Akinsuyi, Thisday