Home / Feature / Almost 59 years after independence, Nigeria remains one of the poorest countries in the world

Almost 59 years after independence, Nigeria remains one of the poorest countries in the world

Nigeria is the domicile to 180 million people who are spread out to 36 States, including the Federal Capital Territory. After almost 59 years of independence, Nigeria has shifted from a low poverty level status to becoming the country with one of the highest poverty level in the world.

Poverty still remains significant at 33.1% in Nigeria despite it having one of the world’s highest economic growth rates at 7.4% average. Nigeria has overtaken India as the poorest country on the world according to the World Poverty Clock (Yomi Kareem:2018). The inability to eradicate extreme poverty in Nigeria is as a result of successive government incapability corruption. Nearly 50% of the 180 million population in Nigeria are engrossed on extreme poverty. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to eradicate extreme poverty in underdeveloped member countries by 2030 is unlikely to be met due to a large extent that Nigeria is incapable of fighting poverty.

“As a consequence, the mission to end extreme poverty globally is already at risk. By July 2018, 83 million people would have been lifted out of extreme poverty since January 2016- but the number is 37 million people fewer than the requirement to meet the 2030 target” (Kareem: 2018).



According to a report by Brookings Institution, the number of Nigerians in extreme poverty increases by 6 people every minutes. Despite an exit from recession in 2017, unemployment and poverty rates are accumulating tenaciously. A World Bank report titled, ‘Nigeria Bi-annual Economic Update: Fragile Recovery”, writes that the best interventions to achieve development in sub-national regions should be identified by policy makers at the federal and state levels. The report went further to state that,

“The rates of unemployment and underdevelopment increased in 2017 and poverty is estimated to have increased slightly.”

This led to the hypothesis that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in expected to be a little over 2%, largely oil sector driven.



The combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men could end extreme poverty in the country. This is supported by a report published by Oxfam titled ‘Inequality in Nigeria’ which shows that $29.9 billion, which was the combined wealth of Nigeria’s 5 richest men then in 2017 could end extreme poverty in Nigeria. But the gap between the rich and poor keeps growing- economic growth are enjoyed by the wealthy elite, at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Looking at Nigeria from the Human Development Index perspective, the development rate in the country is piteous and heart-shattering. As at July 2017, Nigeria’s HDI stood at 0.514, placing the country among the lowest global ranking of those in the low developing category (Baja: 2018).

The life expectancy index of Nigeria has been placed at 0.44, education index at 0.59, HDI value at 0.38 and GDP ondex at 0.466 (Baja: 2018)


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