Opinion: The menace of extreme poverty By – DANIEL IGHAKPE

poor nigerians

A RECENT Nigerian newspaper report reveals that the figure of extremely poor people in Nigeria has risen to 93.7 million in 2019. According to this report, 93,720,530 people in Nigeria now live in extreme poverty. Children affected by poverty It was first revealed in June 2018 that Nigeria had overtaken India as the nation with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty across the world, with an estimated 86.9 million Nigerians measured to be living on less than $1.90 (N684) a day.

However, according to new data from the World Poverty Clock, a web tool produced by World Data Lab, that figure has increased to 93.7 million in June 2019. According to the World Bank, more than half of Nigeria’s population lives on less than a dollar a day. This trend is expected to continue, as the World Data Lab noted that the outlook for poverty alleviation in Nigeria is weak and that an estimated 120 million Nigerians are expected to slip into extreme poverty by 2030. As these facts show, as long as the present system of human rule lasts, there would be poverty. Poverty cannot be permanently eradicated by any form of human government or any economic or social system. The record of history bears this out.

Throughout the thousands of years of human history, every type of government and every type of economic and social system has been tried, yet poverty is still with us. Also read: Herdsmen attack: I lost a pregnant daughter, 3 others, says victim Indeed, in spite of progress in such areas as science, industry, and medicine, the hard fact is that, worldwide, the number of people trapped by poverty has continued to increase. Despite well-meaning efforts to solve the problem, there are millions of people, not only in Nigeria but also around the world that are living in poverty.

Many palliative measures have been recommended to reduce the suffering of the poor. For example, an interesting three-part column in the Vanguard newspapers, written by a prominent Nigerian and  founder of a private university, the Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, Aare Afe Babalola (December 26, 2018; January 2, 2019; and January 9, 2019), highlighted the importance of giving/generosity/philanthropy, in alleviating the suffering of the poor in Nigeria. He cited the abandonment of agriculture, once the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, as one of the reasons for extreme poverty which now pervades the country.

Among other things, he stated that “although many  factors can and have been adduced as partly responsible for poverty in Nigeria, what makes it so endemic in the country is partly the poor disposition of Nigerians to giving.” According to him, in the light of the world’s current economic realities, the government alone cannot reasonably be expected to improve the quality of life of everyone to the level which most people expect.

Wealthy individuals can aid the government in the provision of amenities of life to the less privileged. Philanthropy is rooted in love and compassion; it is of immense benefit not only to the person who practices it but also to the beneficiary and the society at large. In this scenario, it is arguable that rather than donate some specific items to one individual, a philanthropist should direct the resources for those items to the provision of a means of self- employment for the proposed recipient of the items. If this is done, more people who on the long run may be employed by the recipient as his business grows would have indirectly benefitted from a single act of philanthropy. It would have had a multiplier effect.

The recipient himself would have shed the toga of dependency. Aare Babalola himself can be said to be doing very well in the area of philanthropy and generosity. For example, in The Guardian of October 16, 2018, the management of the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, was reported to have awarded automatic employment to 72 first class graduates of the university. It was also reported that the founder of the university, Aare Babalola, doled out N250,000 and a plot of land each to all the graduating students of agriculture to start their farming projects.  Such acts of generosity are highly commended, and I am certain that even on more personal fronts, Aare Afe Babalola has shown an exceptional spirit of kindness and generosity. However, while human relief efforts have been unsuccessful in bringing the problem of poverty under control, God will give attention to the root of the problem – the tendency for selfish people and governments to look after merely their own interests. Vanguard

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