Posted by Newton-Ray Ukwuoma, Lagos | 11 May 2019 | 1,078 times
Although Nigeria has been projected as the country that is most unlikely to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end extreme poverty by 2030 due to its massive cluster of extremely poor people totalling 86.9 million of the 180 million estimated national population, according to the 2018 report by The World Poverty Clock, the country may well stand a chance of defying the odds if she can first reverse what the Child Protection Specialist of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Sharon Oladiji, describes as “the poverty of the mind”.
Speaking during a two-day media dialogue on the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC) at 30 organised by UNICEF in Lagos, Oladiji maintained that the country’s chances of winning the war against extreme poverty lie more in her human resources than in her vast natural resources.
“It is not that the resources are not there that Nigeria is today the world poverty capital,” Oladiji stated. “But it is because we are not harnessing these resources, it is because we have been beseeched by a certain kind of poverty, the poverty of the mind.”
“There is no local government in Nigeria where you will not find any natural resource to tap from, but we allow these things to lie fallow.
“If Nigeria can harness the agricultural resources she has alone, she will not only feed herself but will also feed all of Africa and the world.
“But when we see these things lying waste and we cannot do anything, is that not poverty of the mind?
“If you live in the environment where many people are poor, where children are not going to school and you get into a public office and you take all the money to yourself and launder some abroad is that not poverty of the mind?
“Our problem lies in is our incapacity to fully realize our intellectual potential. We need to encourage our young people to use and realize their potential.
“We churn out millions of graduates every year each looking for jobs where there is none and not thinking of how to create jobs or what to do with their hands and minds. That is the poverty that has crippled Nigeria as a nation.”
According to the June 2018 World Poverty Clock data, Nigeria currently ranks top of the countries with the highest number of extremely poor people in the world, after India, which is seven times larger than Nigeria in population.
An estimated 86.9 million people, that is about 50 per cent of her population, are living under $1.90 per day.
Without any cogent poverty escape plan, this figure has been projected to rise as high as 120 million people living in extreme poverty in 2030 as Nigeria’s population grows to 263 million people, 150 million of which will be below the age of 25.
With an estimated GDP growth of 2.15% per annum and a large youth population, the impact on employment and security among others will be drastic.
And according to Oladiji, children are the worst hit as Nigeria accounts for 40 per cent of new babies born in West Africa and 23 per cent of those born in sub-Saharan Africa.
Already, an estimated 6 million Nigerian children are chronically malnourished (stunted), while 2.5 million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
With the expected population surge in Nigeria and the rising indices of extreme poverty, more children are bound to suffer.
“This is why we need innovative thinkers, people who talk solutions, not problems; we need great minds, people with vision, not those with the get-rich-quick mindset; we need political leaders who are raised with the right values, we need men and women who go into marriages with plans to instil the right values to their children, who also plan before making babies. Getting Nigeria out of extreme poverty is possible,” Oladiji assured. (Nigerian Tribune)
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