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FG faults World Bank claim that Nigeria has 100m destitutes

By The Rainbow
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The federal Government has faulted the claim by the World Bank Country Director in Nigeria, Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly that that 100 Million Nigerians are living in destitution or extreme poverty.

In a rebuttal widely circulated on Sunday, Dr. Nwanze OKIDEGBE, Chief Economic Adviser to the President Goodluck Jonathan, described the the claim as 'spurious'  and 'astonishing on a number of levels.' Okidegbe said country director's claim clearly contradicted the position of the World Bank on the level of poverty in Nigeria.

He said,  During the visit of the Bank's Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, in May 2013, he declared that poverty has fallen under this administration from 48 per cent to 46 per cent.  Given our current population of about 170 million people, the Country Director's imagery of 100 million Nigerian destitutes seems to be based on a much higher poverty rate than that of her boss.'

The chief economic adviser said that by definition of the World Bank itself, to live in extreme poverty is to live on less than $1.25 per day, including the cost of accommodation, clothing, feeding, and other incidentals, which he said translates to  N200 per day (or N6,000 per month).

Strapping up data to data to puncture Marie-Nelly's claim, Okidegbe said, 'On feeding alone, a loaf of bread costs more than N200 in many parts of Nigeria while a plate of food, even from a roadside food vendor, costs about the same amount.

'More also, there are about 112 million active GSM lines in Nigeria. Even accounting for those who own more than one phone and netting out nearly 44 percent of Nigerians who are under 15 years (and mostly do not have phones), this is not a description of a country with 100 million destitute living in extreme poverty.' According to him, president Jonathan's administration is undertaking critical reforms in all key sectors of the economy to create jobs and reduce poverty.

He cited examples with  the reforms in the agricultural sector have increased production and created many job opportunities.

'In recognition of the fact that growth in the Agricultural Sector is pro-poor, we are confident that the consistent growth being recorded in agriculture is translating into further poverty reduction,' he said.. Okidegbe enumerated other measures that the government had undertaken to drive down the level of poverty in the country which translated to better living for people as underscored by recent honour bestowed on the country for meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing people living in absolute hunger by half, well ahead of the 2015 target set by the United Nations. On average.

The adviser pointed out that  about 20 per cent of the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) is allocated exclusively to protecting the poor through different types of social safety nets.

He said, 'One important area of success is the Conditional Grant Scheme with total conditional cash transfer to almost 40,000 households and recruitment of over 2,000 new health workers working on improving maternal and child health. 'Rather than engage in peddling easily disprovable and inaccurate poverty numbers, we believe it would be a better for the World Bank to focus its attention on designing programmes and interventions to support the government's efforts in accelerating poverty reduction in Nigeria.'