Oxfam has said it will cost about $24bn to lift all Nigerians living below the extreme poverty line of $1.90 out of poverty for one year.
The international organisation revealed in a new report that 69 per cent of Nigerians were living below the poverty line, adding, “Nigeria runs the most expensive governments in the world, with an over-bloated civil service, government advisers and aides, whose salaries are often very high.”
According to the report, the government at national and sub-national levels has been worsening inequality by under-funding public service, such as healthcare, education, water and sanitation and women’s empowerment.
The Interim Country Director, Oxfam Nigeria, Constant Tchona, gave the details in Abuja during the launch of the first regional report on the commitment to reducing inequality index.
The report said, “It will cost about $24bn to lift all Nigerians living below the extreme poverty line of $1.90 out of poverty for one year. This amount of money is just lower than the total wealth owned overall by the five richest Nigerians in 2016, which was equal to $29.9bn.
“Poverty in Nigeria is particularly outrageous because it has been growing in the context of an expanding economy where the benefits have been reaped by a minority of people, and have bypassed the majority of the population.”
According to Tchona, the richest man in Nigeria will take 42 years to spend all of his wealth at one million per day.
He said, “According to Oxfam’s calculations, the amount of money that the richest Nigerian man can earn annually from his wealth is sufficient to lift two million people out of poverty for one year.”
“The gap between the rich and the poor may be a worldwide problem but in Nigeria the scale of inequality is staggering. Nigeria is the only oil-producing nation in the league of five countries with the largest number of poor people. Official poverty rates remain high, at 46 per cent of the population or 62 per cent in strict per capita terms.”
He added, “Though the country’s economy has expanded at an average of six per cent every year since 2006, the paradox of growth in Nigeria is that as the country gets richer, more than half of its 200 million-strong population continues to live in abject poverty.
“With the misapplication of resources and priorities, economic growth in Nigeria has not created meaningful opportunities and employment as many of the country’s youth, including those with university degrees, are currently unemployed.”
Tchona outlined measures that should be taken by the government to end inequality in Nigeria.
He said, “There is an urgent need to critically examine the culture of governance and break the policies and norms that sustain the concentration of wealth and income at the top, to forestall the self-perpetuating cycle of inequality that subjugates many and sustain poverty in Nigeria.”
He said economic policies and development strategies should be formulated in a participatory manner and should have at the core reducing inequality as a key principle.
Tchona said the government should take urgent actions to bring down the cost of governance.