Poverty in Nigeria: Destitute Picking from Refuse
Poverty in Nigeria: Destitute Picking from Refuse

Poverty and Unemployment:  The Root Causes for Insecurity In Nigeria

By Suleiman S. Jauhar

The standard of living is a crucial yardstick being used for assessing the result of development and planning in a country. This is because, the purpose of development is to improve the  conditions of people lives,  and the level of living is supposed to be a quantitative expression of these conditions.

These ‘quantitative expressions’ include social indicators of standard of living such as disease incidence, poverty, unemployment and perverse inequality across societies, etc.

Among the two terms social indicators that possess an inverse relationship of a sort; that is the greater the level of poverty in a society, the greater the level of insecurity or threats to the security of that society.

The absence of reliable inter-temporal statistics on income distribution in most sub-Saharan African countries makes any comprehensive account of trends in poverty analysis impossible. In Nigeria, trends in poverty have followed a somewhat different pattern from what exist in most other African countries.

According to a survey in 2018/19 on the Nigeria Living Standards,  39.1% of Nigerians lived below the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day (2011 PPP), while 40.1% of Nigerians lived below Nigeria national poverty line (World Bank, 2020).

The economic recession of 2014/2015 was so severe that it did not only cancel out the progress of the precious twenty years, but indeed, the poverty level soaked.

Nigeria’s new poverty line was calculated by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the World Bank prior to the launch of the 2018/19 Nigerian Living Standards Survey (NLSS) in May 2020. The poverty line is currently 137,430 naira per person per year.

In essence, poverty in Nigeria has become endemic in the past three decades due to rural-urban migration, the impact of the decline of the national economy and the continued breakdown of infrastructural facilities in cities and urban centres.

The rare paradox presented by the nature of the Nigerian poverty is such that the country by statistics and potentials is one of the richest but however, the citizens are suffering from abject poverty. Moreover, according to World Bank study in 2021, Nigeria aspires to lift 100 million people out of poverty by 2030. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, around 4 out of 10 Nigerians were living in extreme poverty, based purely on a monetary measure.


Using the same population estimates as the 2018/19 Nigeria Living Standards Survey, this means that more than 80 million Nigerians were living in poverty before the pandemic, even without data from Borno state where the survey could not be fully carried out.

However, projections suggest that the combined effects of the COVID-19 crisis and natural population growth could leave 100 million people living below the national poverty line by 2022, thereby hampering the government’s ambitious poverty reduction aspirations.

Since Nigeria is home to the largest number of poor people in Sub-Saharan Africa—the world’s poorest region—lifting Nigerians out of poverty is vital for “moving the needle” and reducing global poverty (World Bank, 2021).

This social insecurity has led to frequent disputes over scarce resources and is often presented as a conflict between the rich and poor which has now metamorphosed into rural/urban banditry with heavy human and economic cost, ranging from the sexual assault of women and girls, attacks on villages, to cattle rustling, kidnapping amongst others.

The bandits traversing Benue, Plateau, Niger, Kwara, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano are involved in crimes of armed robbery and kidnapping. There have also been reported cases of rural banditry in Delta, Enugu, Ondo, Oyo and Ebonyi states.

The analysis showed that insecurity affects economic growth by drying-out investments, increases unemployment and dwindles government revenue, amongst others. Despite these effects, government capital expenditure on internal security did not grow astronomically to match the hydra-headed problem.

sequel to that, it is good to note that, there will be no peace or security in any country where the citizens are hungry and of course, without peace and security of life and property, no nation can move forward because there will be hardly any time to engage in the sort of planning that brings or ushers in economic development.

Finally, in light of the foregoing, it is recommended that tackling internal security through improving the standard living of the populace, better health service delivery, adequate food security, and a general increase in the disposable income of the people should be of paramount importance.

Suleiman S. Jauhar writes from Abuja.


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