Rising inflation, persistent population growth, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine may make it impossible for President Muhammadu Buhari to meet his promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
This is according to World Bank economists, Jonathan Lain and Jakob Engel.
About a year ago, President, Buhari inaugurated the National Steering Committee of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in furtherance of his commitment to lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
The president had said while inaugurating the committee that if India could lift 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, Nigeria could surely lift 100 million out of poverty in 10 years. “Fortunately, we have already started but we need to unlock the challenges of slow implementation, inappropriate targeting and absence of adequate resources,” a statement by his media adviser, Femi Adesina quoted him to have said.
However, in a post published on the bank’s blog, the economists said Nigeria’s aspiration to lift all of its people out of poverty by 2030 presents a serious challenge. Even before COVID-19, four in 10 Nigerians lived below the national poverty line – some 80 million people.
“The global pandemic, rising inflation, and ongoing uncertainty related to the war in Ukraine – combined with relentless population growth – have made Nigeria’s poverty-reduction goals more challenging than ever.”
The World Bank has been pessimistic about President Buhari’s poverty reduction aspiration.
October last year, the World Bank Lead Economist for the Middle East and North Africa region’s Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Group, Tara Vishwanath, described the goal of the Nigerian President to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years as ambitious.
She said the ambitious goal could only be feasible if certain swift policies were put in place to provide opportunities in the labour market and boost investors’ confidence.
In its ‘A Better Future for All Nigerians: 2022 Nigeria Poverty Assessment’ report, the World Bank said that poverty reduction stagnated since 2015, with more Nigerians falling below the poverty line over the years. Washington-based bank added that the number of poor Nigerians is projected to hit 95.1 million in 2022.
The World Bank also warned that many non-poor Nigerians are only one small shock away from falling into poverty.
According to the lender, such a shock can be induced by the issues of climate or conflict which could further threaten Nigeria’s poverty reduction efforts.