The Damning Rate of Poverty in Nigeria

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The Damning Rate of Poverty in Nigeria

Nigeria is one of the economic giant of the world with a population of over 180 million in which more than half are working class between the ages of 18-60 years old. According to the Nigeria economic report as released by the World Bank in July 2014, Nigeria has an economic growth rate that is averaging 7.4% which is a good sign of improvement. Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa with a GDP of $375.8 billion; despite this the country is still significantly having a high poverty rate of 33.1%. For a country that is endowed with huge man power to support commerce and natural resources such as oil, it is unacceptable to still has such huge rate of poverty.

In fact, a recent report by the world poverty clock shows that Nigeria has now overtake India as the world’s capital of poverty. This is despite the fact that Indian population is more than 6 times larger than Nigeria.

Extreme poverty population (June 2018)



People living in extreme poverty



86.9 million



71.5 million


DR Congo

60.9 million



23.9 million



19.9 million



17.8 million



17 million


From the table above we can see that 86.9 million Nigerians are living in extreme poverty. This is almost half the population of the estimated 180 million people. Nigeria will has a high rate of population growth, by 2050 the population of Nigeria is expected to be 389 million which will be the 3rd largest in the world and if the government do not tackle the current rate of poverty this implies that over 160 million Nigerians will be living in extreme poverty.

Major causes of poverty in Nigeria

The high rate of poverty in Nigeria can be attributed to three major sources:

  1. Income inequality

Income inequality is the uneven way income is been distributed among the population of a country. In Nigeria, the major cause of poverty is how income is distributed among the citizens. There are more poor people living in rural area than urban area. This is as a result of the lack of infrastructure and social amenities in the rural areas. People in the rural areas mainly depend on agriculture as a source of lively hold and it only accounts for about 17% of GDP which as an employment rate of 30% of the population. Whereas, the major source of revenue which is oil only employ a fraction of the economy.

The oil revenue is poorly distributed across the country. This is mainly because of the high rate of government spending in urban areas than rural areas. Oil extraction causes pollution to farm lands used by people in the rural areas. this may lead to more unemployment rate and increase in poverty.

  1. Political instability and corruption

Nigeria is a country with huge population with a lot of different ethnic group with different political ideology. Over the years the nation as experienced various degree of political regimes with different political and economical agenda. The government as revolve to federal system which as control over 50% of revenue generated in the country and they are also responsible for the provision of public service.

There are a lot of policies made to alleviate poverty in the country but because of the corrupt nature of government officials in office most of those policies don’t see the light of the day.

  1. Civil unrest and Ethnic conflict

Since independence Nigeria as experience a lot of civil unrest from military rule to civilian rule. This is mainly as a result of differences in ethnicity. The quest for power by different ethnic groups led to civil war and the impact is still felt today in the country. From the Biafra agitation to the Niger Delta Militants, from the Boko Haram terrorist to the Fulani herdsmen crises, all these have hugely contributed to the lack of productivities in those areas affected.

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