By Abba Dukawa (Kano)
During the 2021 Democracy Day to mark 22 years of civilian dispensation in the country, In his national live broadcast address to the nation, President Buhari claimed that the administration has lifted 10m out of poverty in the two last years. But barely days after the president’s speeches, World Bank reports said there are rising prices in the country that have pushed an estimated 7 million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.
In fact, Nigerians are literally languishing in extreme poverty; battling daily survival has become an uphill challenge due to the unprecedented skyrocketing of the prices of essential commodities. What the people are going through in the country are reaching the highest apogee since the late 80s.
For one to understand the poverty level in the country, one can go to market stalls to listen to people’s conversations. Even without listening to them, one may see the anger in their faces.
Everyday Nigerians lament the rising cost of living as food prices soar at 12.56%. With all sense of highest esteem to Mr President, the level of poverty in the country is unspeakable talk less of lifting 10million people out of poverty as promised by President Buhari.
According to the reports released by the National Statistic Bureau, the rise in the food index was broad-based, caused by increases in prices of bread, egg, beans, rice, yam, fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables. Nigerians never expected such kind of hardship as the country’s inflation rate rose further in June 2020 to 12.56% (Year-on-Year), 0.16% points higher than the rate recorded in May 2020 (12.4%); as the country’s inflation rate rose further each passing day. In reality, Food inflation across the federation is worse than the official figures shown by the Bureau.
According to the new World Bank Report: Nigeria’s Exchange Rate Policies Fueling Inflation, Affecting Food Prices. Nigeria recently devalued the naira’s exchange rate to the current N411 for every US dollar. However, this new rate still falls short of the parallel market rate of over N500 for every dollar. It is this disequilibrium between the official and the parallel market rates which the World Bank blames for helping cause an upswing in inflationary pressures.
For the administration to reduce the level of poverty in the country federal government should focus on three Policy Priorities which include: “Reduce Inflation by Implementing Policies That Support Macroeconomic Stability, Inclusive Growth, And Job Creation; Protect poor households from the impacts of inflation; Facilitate access to financing for small and medium enterprises in key sectors to mitigate the effects of inflation and accelerate the recovery. – World Bank advice
It will be the highest injustice for anybody not to acknowledged infrastructural development recorded especially in the southern part of the country.
PMB’s administration introduced many programs to alleviate economic hardship to Nigerians like Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Conditional Cash Transfer Program. Unfortunately, briefcases farmers and those close to the power benefited much than real pleasant and small scale farmers. Same with the Conditional Cash Transfer Program that targets poor and vulnerable households; all the targeted citizens are not eventually the beneficiaries.
Reviving the nation’s economy which is one of the three cardinal promises PMB made before the electorates remain a Herculean task.
Lack of clear economic policies scares Foreign Investment coupling with weak Naira, the country slumps into recession twice while financial and economic policies of the administration do not favour the masses that spent hours under the sun to vote in this administration.
Nigerians are worrying each passing day over the increasing debt burden that has reached an unprecedented level as it increased by N191 billion in the first quarter of this year, representing a 0.58 per cent increase from N32.916 trillion as of December 31, 2020.
There were not any government in Nigerian history that has enjoyed citizens goodwill like the present administration. There was a time when it was a crime to criticise Baba Buhari’s administration.
Anybody who criticised the administration openly would have surely ended up with a bleeding nose especially from enthusiast supporters of the regime whose thoughts were that the administration would turn poor people’s rich overnight and turns the rich ones in the society into poor overnight. The case remains the other way around; the poor remained poorer while the rich became richer.
To be honest, this administration’s Poverty Reduction efforts will continue to remain unachievable due to execution challenges, high levels of inflation, unemployment rate, high rate of money laundering and other factors. Those entrusted with public offices may not necessarily remain honest to tell the truth to the leaders about the true situation on the ground.
For the sake of history and the country to judge the administration fairly, let the captain of the ship regain his past hard earning status of being a strong and No Non-Sense General and understand that half the population live on less than $1(N500) per day, the unemployment rate has risen to 32.5% and also that Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty. Let him do any things to prevent the worst from happening in the remaining two years of the administration.
Dukawa writes for 9News Nigeria from Kano and can be reached at abbahydukawa@gmail com