‘NO MEANINGFUL OPPORTUNITIES OR BENEFITS FOR YOUTH IN NIGERIA’S ECONOMIC GROWTH’ – OXFAM

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Gross misapplication of resources and priorities have ensured that Nigeria’s economic growth had not created meaningful opportunities and employment for its youth while $24 billion is now needed to lift all Nigerians living below the extreme poverty line of $1.90 out of poverty for one year, Oxfam has said.

According to Oxfam, waste of economic resources has meant that many of the country’s youth, including those with university degrees, currently remain unemployed because of waste of economic resources. 

Noting that Nigeria’s economy may have expanded at an average of six percent every year since 2006, Oxfam noted that more than half of the country’s 200 million strong population continued to live in abject poverty. 

These were part of disclosures by Oxfam’s Interim Country Director, Constant Tchona during the launch of the first ever Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRII) regional report by Oxfam in West Africa and Development Finance International in Abuja on Tuesday. 

The index measures, compares and ranks West African governments’ commitment on three pillars: public spending, taxation, and labour markets. 

The report also included a regional analysis of agriculture and land rights. 

Tchona said more Nigerians were living in extreme poverty despite claims by the Federal Government that the country’s economy had improved. 

The country director noted that the gap between the rich and the poor may be a global problem but in Nigeria the scale of inequality was staggering. 

He said: “The gap between the rich and the poor may be a worldwide problem but in Nigeria the scale of inequality is staggering. Nigeria is the only oil-producing nation in the league of five countries with the largest number of poor people. Official poverty rates remain high, at 46 percent of the population or 62 percent in strict per capita terms. 

“Though the country’s economy has expanded at an average of six percent every year since 2006, the paradox of growth in Nigeria is that as the country gets richer, more than half of its 200 million strong population continues to live in abject poverty. 

“With the misapplication of resources and priorities, economic growth in Nigeria has not created meaningful opportunities and employment as many of the country’s youth including those with university degrees are currently unemployed.” 

According to the report, despite the prevailing recession, Nigeria is still seen as Africa’s largest economy and one of the fastest-growing in the world, adding that yet, more than half of the country’s population still grapples with extreme poverty, while a small group of elites enjoyed ever-growing wealth. 

“In Nigeria the scale of economic inequality has reached extreme levels, and it finds expression in the daily struggles of the majority of the population in the face of accumulation of obscene amounts of wealth by a small number of individuals. 

“The richest Nigerian man will take 42 years to spend all of his wealth at 1 million per day. 

“According to Oxfam’s calculations, the amount of money that the richest Nigerian man can earn annually from his wealth is sufficient to lift two million people out of poverty for one year,” the report said. 

The report noted that it will cost about $24 billion to lift all Nigerians living below the extreme poverty line of $1.90 out of poverty for one year.

“This amount of money is just lower than the total wealth owned overall by the five richest Nigerians in 2016, which was equal to $29.9 billion. 

“Poverty in Nigeria is particularly outrageous because it has been growing in the context of an expanding economy where the benefits have been reaped by a minority of people, and have bypassed the majority of the population,” it added. 

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