Monday letter1

Last year, the Brookings Institute released a shocking and heart-breaking report. The report placed Nigeria as the poverty headquarters of world. The country’s poverty level had overtaken that of India. It is estimated that over 87 million Nigerians are living below poverty line. After the initial denial and lamentations of the report by the government and Nigerians, the country has broken another record for wrong reasons. The country is now the sixth miserable country of the world. The country fell into this ranking through a model developed by Professor Steve Hanke, an economist based at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, in the United States. The misery index assesses the happiness or otherwise of nations based on the sum of unemployment, inflation and bank lending rates, while subtracting percentage changes in real Gross Domestic Product(GDP) per capita. The higher these indices are, the more miserable citizens of the country in question is likely to be.

  The country that has 87 million of its population living in abject poverty can easily slip into the miserable ranking. That is why it did not come to many Nigerians as a surprise when the country received the Hanke’s gift of the year. A visit to rural communities will expose the high level of poverty, misery and hunger in the country. This harsh condition is also being witnessed in our big cities, with the inhabitants struggling to eke out a living. However, in the past three years, there have been reported cases of suicide in the country. Many people including directors in the civil service have ended their precious lives in the Lagoon, through taking poisonous substances and sometimes hanging themselves. The victims usually committed this ungodly act out of frustration and misery. The high rate of unemployment in the country has aptly captured the Hanke’s miserable index. Our universities and other high institutions of learning have continued to churn out hundreds of thousands of graduates on yearly basis. Sadly, only a small fraction of these graduating students are absorbed in the formal and informal sectors of the economy. No wonder, majority of our youths have taken solace in sports betting. In fact, the high rate of crime and insecurity in the country could be attributed to the rise of unemployment.

  Some scholars are of the view that the population of the country is contributory to our miserable condition. They argue that the population is ballooning without adequate and commensurate infrastructure development. I agree with their submission. Nigeria’s population has approximately hit 200 million. These people depend on poor educational system, decaying hospitals and bad roads network. The problems are caused by bad governance. Shockingly, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), last week, ranked Nigeria as the world’s second bad user of the sovereign wealth funds. It’s quite disturbing how the country has become the darling of these poor international ranking. Our policymakers should fine-tune their policies to reflect the interest of the country. The wide gap of inequality between the haves and haves-not should be immediately bridged. Nigeria has all what it takes to be a happy country  of the World.

Ibrahim Mustapha, Pambegua, Kaduna State

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