Buhari to Unveil New Poverty Data Next Week, Agba Reveals

•Macroeconomic instability pushing more people below poverty line, says NESG boss

James Emejo and Deborah Adesoba in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari would next Thursday give an update on his administration’s efforts at tackling the rising poverty in the country.

This was disclosed yesterday by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, at a media briefing on the 28th edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit (NES#28) which is billed to commence between November 14-15, 2022 in Abuja.

In 2019, Buhari had said his administration planned to lay the foundation for 100 million Nigerians to be lifted out of poverty.

Speaking at a retreat for ministers-designate in Abuja, Buhari had said the target would be achieved at the end of his eight-year term in 2023.

He said, “Our Administration’s eight years will have laid the grounds for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, this outcome will fundamentally shift Nigeria’s trajectory and place us among the world’s great nations.”

Also, Buhari, in April 2021, had also approved the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) to accelerate the reduction in poverty through economic growth, redistributive programs, and shared prosperity.

Essentially, the strategy is anchored on macroeconomic stabilisation, industrialisation, structural policies and institutional reforms, and redistributive policies and programmes that provide social protection as well as support Buhari’s goal of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.

However, there had been growing concerns that the president’s target is still far-fetch, a few months to the end of his eight years in power as more Nigerians appeared to have relapsed into poverty.

However, Agba, who was asked to comment on the success of the administration’s drive towards poverty alleviation, said he wouldn’t want to pre-empt the poverty update which Buhari planned to present to Nigerians next week.

In May 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said 83 million Nigerians were living below the poverty line while the poverty rate stood at 40.1 per cent.

The national poverty line is determined by adding the food poverty line and the cost of non-food basic needs.

Earlier in October 2018, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had estimated the country’s poverty index at 53.7 per cent.

Nonetheless, the minister said this year’s economic summit, with theme: “2023 and Beyond: Priorities for Shared Prosperity,” would discuss priorities for post-2023 with emphasis on the policies and strategies encapsulated in the National Development Plan (NDP), 2021-2025 and the Nigeria Agenda (NA) 20250.

Agba said while the NA 2050 was designed to transform the country into an Upper-Middle Income Developing Country with a Per Capita Income (PCI) of $33,000, the NDP, 2021-2025 has the vision to unlock the potential of the country in all sectors of the economy for a sustainable, holistic and inclusive national development.

Stressing that sustained growth remained key to the eradication of poverty, the minister said that under the new development plans, the private sector will be the engine of growth of the economy, while the government will implement policies and regulations that promote favourable business environment to achieve a high rate of investment and savings.

The investment is necessary to raise the economy to a GDP of $11.7 trillion by 2050, while structural barriers that constrain the vulnerable segment of society from realising its potential are addressed.

In this regard, the minister pointed out that discussions at NES #28 will be dimensioned into four sub-themes namely, Delivering Macroeconomic Stability for Shared Prosperity; Investing in the Nigeria Future; Unlocking the Binding Constraints to Execution; and Reframing the Agenda for Transformational Leadership.

To achieve this, Agba said the summit would among other things identify critical factors for effective implementation of the national development plan for sustained economic development; set an economic policy agenda for accelerated economic growth, underpinned by sustainable and inclusive development; and deliberate an actionable framework for transformative political leadership and effective governance that builds the Nigerian state’s capacity to deliver dividends of democracy.

Also, in his remarks, Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr. Asue Ighodalo, said the summit would be held within a political transition season accentuated by impending general elections, which promise to be competitive and decisive in ushering the next administration into office.

He said the country was in a season of social discontent characterised by massive economic pressure and challenges on businesses and citizens.

Ighodalo said, “macroeconomic instability is driven by stagflation pushing more people below the poverty line. More Nigerians are multidimensionally poor than are monetarily poor. The World Bank estimates that in 2022 alone, 7 million Nigerians will go into extreme poverty”.

He said, “Our population faces significant security challenges, made worse by the devastating effects of climate change compounding already aggravated levels of humanitarian crisis. Nigeria’s Internally Displaced Persons Index 2021 shows that we had 3.2 million IDPs as of last year. This year adds an additional 1 million IDPs triggered by flooding that has not only destroyed lives and livelihoods but threatens food sufficiency and security.

“We live in a time of global instability, regional volatility, and national socioeconomic uncertainties that require that we now exceed our own expectations. Yes, national revenues are historically lower than they ever were. Yes, we are sandwiched between two hard-hitting economic recessions and a global pandemic.

“These are unusual times that characterise what could be described as a perfect storm scenario. These unprecedented challenges call for business unusual, governance unusual – it calls for a whole new paradigm to national socioeconomic transformation – it calls for a new level of transformational political leadership.”

According to the NESG boss, the summit is against the “backdrop of these challenges, opportunities and critical themes. Nigeria’s age-long challenges are not unconnected with macroeconomic instability experienced in the country over time”.

He said, “The unstable macroeconomic space is reflected in high inflation, exchange rate volatility, constricted fiscal space, weak external reserves, and balance of payments problems. This, in addition to social and political instability, has proved the extent of Nigeria’s vulnerability to shocks.

“In 2021, Nigeria was ranked among the bottom half of African countries classified as less resilient to shocks by the African Development Bank (AfDB). Unfortunately, the country’s vulnerability burden is borne by the people at the bottom of the income pyramid, which could aggravate insecurity.

“2023 presents another opportunity to demonstrate a strong political will to tackle Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges. Hence, the NESG seeks to unveil the most critical challenges for urgent attention: these are unemployment surge, huge infrastructural deficit, fiscal weakness, human capital and skills gap, flawed security architecture, and corruption.

“This summit also delves into the causes and implications of the highlighted critical challenges. It has designed plenaries and panel sessions to debate and reaches the policy consensus to transform Nigeria into a strong, inclusive, prosperous, corrupt-free, and globally competitive and sustainable economy in 2023 and beyond.”

Related Articles