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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  • It is really very arguable to derive a cause and effect relationship between poverty(using GDP here as proxy) and violence. First, this povery disparity has been the same since the foundation of Nigeria. So, why has the North not been historically violent? Secondly, if we are to believe this this report, then we would expect the most violence in the North in the most poor region of the North, which is the North East. Why is the North East region relatively less violent than any other region in Nigeria. Thirdly, why is the South South region, the region with the highest GDP in Nigeria, also the region with the highest violence. Finally, we need to clearly define which violence is caused by poverty and the linkage and which violence is caused by other factors and the likely linkage factor. That why this report could be more meaningful for poverty eradication and violence reduction efforts in Nigeria.

    From: Ahmad Malan

    Posted: 4 years ago

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  • I think there is an an over emphasis on these GDP figures especially as it does not necessarily equate with better standard of living nor is it a pointer to potential areas of rapid economic growth. The south south region has the highest GDP figures but with the exception of maybe one state in that region, i do not see the standard of living or quality of life in the south south as being better than that in the south east which has well under half of of the S/S GDP. These arguments using strict economic data with dubious measurement parameters are misleading.

    From: Igbobuzor Omekanna

    Posted: 4 years ago

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  • What do you expect? When the people of the North choose religion over their individual well being, when ignorance is preferred to knowledge, when thieves, common criminals and genocide instigators hold sway in mosques and churches as clerics, when education is seen as western culture rather than a means to enlightenment, when backwardness courted rather than progress and when a people deny themselves and their country to opportunity to grow, to find comfort, the develop, to apply their intellect to common problems then what is happening in the North in terms of poverty is to be expected.
    Look at Zamfara, instead of promoting university education, they are trumping islamic education over the national curriculum. Even the Saudi govt is modernising its education system to look more like what obtains in Europe. In fact the Saudis are importing professors from Europe to America to teach in their universities, they are hosting campuses of famous world universities in their country in spite of being the holy land of islam.
    What is our Northern brothers doing in their own states, Borno, Bauchi, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa, Taraba and the rest of the backward axis of poverty? They are busy trying to be more muslim than mohammed while the country of prophet mohammed is into full time, western style knowledge led economic systems to improve the lot of their people. If not for Saudi doctors, Yar'Adua would have died long before he did. Those doctors, some of them Nigerian were trained in Europe and America, not in a sharia school.
    Please wake up people of the North you are as brilliant as any other people in the world!

    From: Chinedu

    Posted: 4 years ago

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  • The north has been in hem of affairs for a decade no such statistics was roll out why now REWANE which violence are you talking about is it jihad that is part of the northern religious practice or what, what parameter or economics indices did you use in arriving at this conclusion.In case you did understand the law of equitable distribution of wealth ,you should know that the attitude of the northerners towards violence as there way of life has made investors who are willing to invest in the north to de-invest because of high risk of violence.Who will want to spend several millions of naira in investment only to loose it to hoodlums in the name of jihad.What about the igbo traders who defer all odds to invest in such a violital environment have they been able to recoup their investment the answer is no but instead they lost there lives just like the innocent corp members so the result of such attitude will be backwardness which they made for themselves.


    Posted: 4 years ago

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  • It is a paradox that those who are poor should be destroying the little they have or even chased away people who bring economic vibrancy to their place. I am a Norther and do not believe this report in any way. If it is true who is to blame? The North has held on to power for about twenty eight years, why have they not improve the economic condition of their region. Our Leaders in the north do not want the best for its poor people, so that they can continue to use them as easy tools of carrying out their political grievances against their opponents whenever they loose as it happened recently. Poverty is not lack of having a penny but lack of having a dream. Our leaders have failed to dream big for the poor and uneducated youths of the North.

    From: Dan Asabe Usman

    Posted: 4 years ago

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