Income Disparity Between North and South Widens

15 May 2011

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President Goodluck Jonathan

The GDP per capita between the northern and southern parts of the country has widened, with a recent report showing that the GDP per capita in the south is twice that of the north.

The GDP per capita is the GDP (total income) of a country, divided by its population. It shows how much money people earn on average. So GDP is the dollar value of all goods and services produced within a country, state or city's borders in a given year, then divided by the population in a given year.

In what can be described as a clinical post-mortem of the recent post election violence that swept through the states in the north, foremost economic analyst and managing director, Financial Derivatives Nigeria Limited, Mr. Bismark Rewane said the high poverty level in the north as well as growing economic inequality should be blamed for the recurring orgy of violence.

Speaking at the executive monthly breakfast meeting of the Lagos Business School recently, Rewane said that the degree of the pervading inequality is underscored by the existing GDP per capita for each of the regions in the country.

Noting that the GDP per capita in the south is twice that of the north, Rewane said the alignment of the political and economic map is
needed to bring stability.
The figures which were contained in the May edition of the monthly economic presentation at the tertiary institution, showed that while
the GDP per capita in the north stood at $718 that of the south-west was $1,436 while that of the south-south and south-east stood at
$2,010 and $933 respectively.
The wide disparity between the figures in the different zones is said to be a great factor in the disposition of the large number of those
living below the poverty line to violent protests and the attendant destruction of lives and property.
Lamenting the inequality in the distribution of wealth in the country, Rewane noted that existing social stratification in the country is
brewing animosity among the various classes. “With a gini-coefficient of 43, Nigeria is stratified both by class and by regions,” he said.

Gini-coefficient is a measure of the inequality of a distribution. It is commonly used as a measure of inequality of income or wealth.
Insisting that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening on a daily basis, he stated: “In Nigeria, the ratio of the rich to the poor
is 15:1. The top 20 per cent in Nigeria get 15 times more of the income than the bottom 20 per cent.”

He advised the government to urgently fight the twin-problem of poverty and inequality that has the potential to make the northern
part of the country a hotbed of violence.
Rewaned added that the onus lies on President Goodluck Jonathan to initiate programmes that will not only improve the standards of living in the north but also address other fundamental issues that usually push the downtrodden in the area to violence.
Rewane said Nigerians would evaluate the performance of President Jonathan's administration by his economic performance, stressing that “the president knows that his political survival and legacy depends on his economic performance.”
Underpinning the urgency of the situation, Rewane called on the president to swing into action by initiating programmes to tackle the
problem in a holistic manner.

“He needs to grow the economy and carry the north along. High income inequality is a recipe for political instability and needs to be
addressed,” he stated.

Quoting a March 2011 UNESCO report, Rewane noted that northern Nigerian women rank lowest in literacy levels in the world.
To address these lapses, he stressed the need for President Jonathan to raise a team to increase national productivity and manage resources efficiently.
Economy affairs commentators have at various other forums canvassed the need to urgently tackle the problem of street urchins, called almajiris in the northern part of the country.

The army of unemployed, uneducated and poverty-stricken youths in many states in the north has been used at various times to foment trouble by some misguided leaders in the area.

Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics on the spread and trend of poverty in Nigeria show a continuous increase in the size and depth of poverty in the north.

According to another economist, Martin Oluba, “A historical movement in the spread of the poverty rate for the years 1980 to 2004 shows a continuously increasing trend for the north: 35.1% (1980), 52.60% (1981), 45.50% (1982), 70.67% (1983) and 70.13% (2004),” Corresponding distribution in the south during same period is as follows: 9.83%, 38.23%, 41.63%, 57.5% and 34.93% respectively.

According to the analyst, who quoted the figures in a recent publication, there is no reason to believe that this trend would have
changed since 2004.

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