Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari stated on Monday that a significant portion of Nigeria’s prosperity was concentrated in the hands of few individuals living primarily in four or five states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Buhari stated this while declaring open the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES25) in Abuja.
He said the situation left the remaining 31 states, with close to 150 million people, in a state of expectancy and hope for opportunities to thrive.
According to the president, the reality had propelled migratory and security trends witnessed today in Nigeria and across the African continent.
“Nigeria is a country with close to 200 million people living in 36 states and the FCT.
“A significant proportion of Nigeria’s prosperity today is concentrated in the hands of a few people living primarily in four or five states and the Federal Capital Territory. Some of the most prosperous Nigerians are here in this room.
“This leaves the remaining 31 states, with close to 150 million people, in a state of expectancy and hope for better opportunity to thrive.
“This, in the most basic form, drives the migratory and security trends we are seeing today both in Nigeria and across the region.”
He charged leaders of the public and private sectors to look inward to solve the challenges confronting the nation’s socio-economic development.
He promised that his administration would continue to collaborate with the private sector in designing and implementing developmental projects that would keep Nigeria on track for sustained, inclusive, and prosperity-driven growth.
The president reiterated the resolve of his administration to address population growth, security and corruption, adding that policies and programmes must be geared towards promoting inclusivity and collective prosperity.
“In the recent weeks, I have been to Niger Republic to attend the ECOWAS summit; Japan with fellow African leaders to attend the Tokyo International Conference on African Development; the United Nations General Assembly in New York and South Africa on a state visit to exchange ideas on the common themes we share as the two largest economies in Africa.
“What was very clear at these meetings, and numerous others I have been privileged to attend over the years, is the increased consensus by leaders that to address population growth, security and corruption matters in developing economies, our policies and programmes must focus on promoting inclusivity and collective prosperity.
“This shift implies that the concept of having competitive free markets that focus on wealth creation alone will be replaced by those that propagate the creation of inclusive markets which provide citizens with opportunities that will lead to peaceful and prosperous lives,” he said.
On the focus of this year’s economic summit, which is discussing what Nigeria would be in the year 2050 when many studies estimate the country’s population will rise to over 400 million people, the president said: “As a government, our view is to equip our citizens with the means to seize any opportunities that may arise.
“This means we’ll continue investments in education, health care, infrastructure, security, and strengthen and entrench the rule of law.”
He maintained that the myriads of challenges confronting the nation could only be solved with “made in Nigeria” solutions.
“In your deliberations, I would request that your proposals are productive, inventive, and innovative, keeping in mind that Nigeria’s unique challenges can only be solved by made in Nigeria solutions,’’ he said.
The president said the 2019 general elections had shown that Nigeria was capable of electing leaders in a peaceful and orderly manner.
“The elections have come and gone. Our country, once again, has shown the world that we can choose our leaders in a peaceful and orderly manner.
“Apart from a few pockets of unrest, majority of voters exercised their civic rights without hindrance.
“Furthermore, we also saw an increase in the number of aggrieved candidates and supporters who took their concerns and grievances to the courts as opposed to the streets. This is how it should be,” he said.
While wishing the 25th NES fruitful, robust, and productive deliberations, Buhari commended the organisers and stakeholders of the summit for sustaining the platform established since 1993 to deliberate on key issues of national development.
94m Nigerians Currently Live Below Poverty Line— Oxfam
Meanwhile, Oxfam International said no fewer than 94,470,535 people in Nigeria live below extreme poverty line, according to the latest World Poverty Clock.
Constant Tchona, Oxfam International Country Director in Nigeria, said this on Monday in Abuja at the organisation’s Programme Quality Review and Planning meeting with the theme, ‘On the Road To Becoming an Influencing Hub’.
Tchona decried that this number of people live below the benchmark of N684 per day.
“The number of people that live below extreme poverty level as at April was 91,501,377, making Nigeria the World Capital of Poverty.
“As if that was not bad enough, at the moment, six months later, the number has jumped up to 94,470,535 people.
“What this means is that we have added 2,969,158 people more into extreme poverty.
“By comparison, this number is more than the population of Gambia and Cape Verde combined.
“At the current rate, Nigeria is not only off track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but many now believe that up to 25 percent of the world’s extreme poor will live in Nigeria by 2030.
“Nigeria’s total population is 200,963,599 people according to the Worldometer and is to become the world’s third largest country by 2050,” he noted.
While describing the burden as pathetic, the country director noted that Nigerian government was aware of the rate of poverty in the land.
Tchona quoted President Muhammadu Buhari’s intention to “lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years and set them on the path to prosperity’’ to “fundamentally shift Nigeria’s trajectory and place it among the World’s Great Nations’’.
According to him, if this is achieved, Nigeria will shock the world to achieve the SDGs.
“Now the question is what is the role of the citizens and how that role will be played in supporting both elected and appointed officials in achieving this lofty goal.
“What could be the role of international NGOs like Oxfam on that journey?” Tchona asked.
He noted that in order to effectively make impact in poverty reduction, the organisation would have to reminiscent on its programmes to ensure they were not against Oxfam well established quality standard.
He stressed the need to expedite actions, adding that more people are getting into extreme poverty as at the moment.