On Saturday, June 12, President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated the goal of his administration to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
The president made the statement in his speech delivered to mark the nation’s 2021 Democracy Day celebration.
The president also stated that while he was working towards helping 100 million citizens escape poverty, his regime had lifted 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
According to Buhari:
‘’In the last two years, we lifted 10.5 million people out of poverty – farmers, small-scale traders, artisans, market women, and the like.
‘’I am very convinced that this 100 million target can be met and this informed the development of a National poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy. The specific details of this accelerated strategy will be unveiled shortly.’’
The Democracy Day broadcast was not the first time the current administration claimed to be working towards lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
The Nation newspaper in a report dated February 24, 2021, featured an article where the president also reaffirmed the resolve of his administration to realise its plan to lift 100m Nigerians out of poverty.
The reality on the ground
But despite the claims by the administration that it will pull 100 million of its current population out of poverty in 10 years, available data shows that the Buhari government has not matched its words with actions.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a report about poverty and inequality from September 2018 to October 2019, said 40 % of people in Nigeria lived below its poverty line. It said that represents 82.9 million people.
Further details provided in the nationwide survey report show that northern states in Nigeria rank poorest.
According to the report, 9 of the top 10 poorest states in Nigeria are from the northern region with Sokoto, Taraba, and Jigawa being the poorest.
The figures released by the NBS indicate that almost half of Nigeria’s population lives in poverty.
These figures which represent the true reality on the ground are a contrast to the government’s claims of working towards lifting 100 million citizens out of poverty.
The COVID-19 pandemic
Added to the above facts, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is another daunting challenge standing in the way of the federal government's efforts to help the majority of its citizens escape poverty.
The World Bank predicted in January 2021, that poverty in Nigeria will rise because of population growth and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the World Bank document, the COVID-19 crisis alone is forecast to drive an additional 10.9 million people into poverty by 2022.
Factoring the effects of the pandemic, it is glaring that extreme poverty in Nigeria is likely to rise among citizens.
The huge task ahead
The Buhari administration has spent 6 years in office with two years remaining. The true state of affairs on the ground shows that lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in just two years seems like an impossible task that would require a miracle to fulfill.
While the administration has repeatedly championed its goal to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty, available data shows that the government needs radical policies to make its goal a reality.
Verifiable data indicates that if nothing cogent is done to address the poverty rate in the country, more Nigerians may live in poverty before the end of the Buhari administration.