The Federal Government on Wednesday rejected a report that put Nigeria as the new capital of poverty.
A report by The World Poverty Clock revealed that the west-African country, led by President Muhammadu Buhari had overtaken India as the nation with the most extremely poor people living in it.
According to the data published this month, 86.9 million Nigerians – which represent nearly 50% of its population, are living in extreme poverty.
The report by Brookings Institution, titled: ‘The Start of a New Poverty Narrative,’ indicates that “Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extreme poor in early 2018, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo could soon take over the number 2 spot.
“At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall.”
There have been many other concerns raised about the poor condition of living in the country since President Buhari was elected into office in 2015.
In April this year, Bill Gate, the world richest man who has invested 1.6 billion in Nigeria, expressed concerns about the country’s economic blueprint – an initiative of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Mr. Gate, the founder of Microsoft, who lambasted the Nigerian government when he visited the country, this year said it didn’t “fully reflect people’s needs.”
But Okechukwu Enelamah was quick to reject the latest negative data to indict President Buhari and Professor Osinbajo’s economic strategy.
The minister of trade and investment, who spoke to journalist after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting claimed the statistics conducted by an NGO based in Vienna and funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany, was based on a time when Nigeria was in recession.
Mr. Enelamah said: “I think first, we need to understand when we get these reports that there are reports that are lagging in indicators which means, people are reporting on history,” said.
“So, when you get reports from Brooking Institution or all sorts of people, you need to look at the context. Somebody may have written a report when we were in a recession.
“Remember that if you are in a recession, what it means is that even though, your population is growing, people don’t stop procreating, your growth fact, which means that in theory depending on how they run those numbers, you will be going the other way. There is absolutely no question that there an urgency to create employment in Nigeria.
“What I can tell you, with certainty based on one’s background in business and economics, is that if we complete the things on infrastructure and you implement these reports we are doing, that is what I mean by a leading indicator, poverty will go down.
“There is no magic to it. But you have to do it first, you have put in the infrastructure, you have to implement the economic programme which is what will create the opportunities, they don’t drop from the sky.
“So, I think we should roll up our sleeves as a people and do the work because, if we don’t do it, our people continue to bear children obviously, they would get poorer. So, I don’t think we should kill ourselves that poverty is something just happen.
“I think it comes out of the urgent need we have as a country which is why we are focusing as a government to make sure that we create the enabling environment, the infrastructure that is required to create opportunities for our people and I believe that will happen in the process of time.”