1.1 Background of the Study
Many people when they hear or read about the
word poverty will automatically think and look at
poverty as being simply a lack of money. This is
partly true but for a better understanding of poverty
it is necessary to go beyond this simple or common
sense, definition of poverty. Poverty is much more
than a simple lack of money. For example, if you
were stranded on a desert island and you had
several thousand dollars or pounds in cash, while
those around you had things like food, clothing and
shelter would be in poverty? You could not eat your
money, nor could. Your fellow inhabitants might not
even want your money, particularly if they believe
that a rescue is not eminent. In such a situation,
lack of money means equal poverty. This is,
however, only part of the story
with regard to poverty yet in order to understand
poverty and inequality, we must probe beneath
surface reality and go beyond the common sense
explanation which is simply another for cliché.
Definitions of Poverty
There are two different ways in which researchers
define poverty; Absolute poverty and relative
Absolute poverty refers to the situation in which a
person lacks those things that help to sustain
human life. The lack of basic human needs such as
food, shelter and clothing. This form of poverty was
once quite common in countries such as Britain and
American but has since declined, particularly since
the introduction of the welfare state. This form of
poverty is still prevalent in many third world
Relative poverty refers to the situation in which
a person lacks the necessary resources to enable
them to participate in the normal and desirable
pattern of life that exist within a given society at a
given time. For example, if you cannot afford to
have a cooked meal then you may not be in
absolute poverty but you are certainly in relative
Poverty is not new but at each mention, it stirs
a lot of misgiving. This is because it has a very
devastating influence on its victims. It reduces the
social and psychological prestige of its victims.
Poverty is a condition of being poor. This could be
evident even amidst plenty because there could be
reeking poverty as a result of lack of knowledge to
translate potentiality into practical creativity for the
benefit of society.
In other words, if there is a poverty of
something, it therefore means that there is a lack of
it or the quality of it is extremely low. The foregoing
shows the picture of our beloved country,
especially when a deep reflection is made on the
Nigerian question and the Nigerian condition. It is
also so pathetic in the sense that the country that
is potentially rich in oil and gas and other natural
resources cannot boast of putting food on the
tables of its citizens in fact an average Nigeria is
said to be living below one dollar. Researcher has
it that the foundation of most social vices and
corrupt practices both in high and low places is
caused by poverty. At present, Nigeria is rated as
one of the poorest country of the world, a country
with abundant resources both in human and
mineral resources. It is as a result of this and other
maladies that are experienced by the citizens of the
world especially the third world countries that the
United Nations in year 2000 in a meeting popularly
referred to as millennium summit in the United
State of America, arrived at the millennium
development goals, (MDGs). According to UN the
189 members of this organization by 2015 are
supposed to have met these goals. The nine goals
have the “reduction of extreme poverty and hunger”
as the first goal to be met by the stipulated year.
As a member of the United Nations Nigeria
keyed into the MDGs and subsequently produce a
policy document called the national economic
empowerment and development strategy (NEEDs).
This development goals specifically has the
following actionable goals.
Valve re-orientation (NEEDs DOCUMENT,
The NEEDs as a national policy was intended to
meeting some of the goals of the MDGs especially
poverty reduction. In assessing the performance of
MDGs and NEEDS in Nigeria especially when it
relates to “poverty reduction” one can say without
fears of contradiction that millennium development
goals have performed below the expectation of
Nigerian. It is at the backdrop of this realization
that this paper is set to examine the MDGs and
poverty reduction as it geared towards bringing
sustainable development in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Over the last ten years poverty has been very
real in Nigeria and quality of the average Nigerian
citizen has progressively nosedived. It is so
endemic in Nigeria that people have started seeing
it as part of their lot in life. It is at the backdrop of
this that this paper is set to examine the MDGs and
poverty reduction as it is geared towards bringing
sustainable development in Nigeria.
This study therefore addresses some specific
questions as outlined below:
What factor is responsible for high level of
poverty in Nigeria?
What has been the impact of various poverty
reduction programmes in Nigeria?
Will Nigeria really reduce poverty by 2015
going by the current situation in the country?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of the study is to analyze
and evaluate the rate of poverty in Nigeria.
Against this backdrop, the following specific
objectives will be address in the study:
To identify the factors responsible for poverty
To assess how successful the various policies
and programmed initiated to reduce poverty in
To ascertain the level of whether Nigeria will
be able to meet millennium development goals
(MDGs) by 2015.
To recommend policy response and suggest
how to reduce poverty in Nigeria in order to
meet MDGS and ensure sustainable
1.4 Significance of the Study
The essence of any meaningful research work
lies in its significance and usefulness to humanity.
This study will provide a conceptual frame work
for comprehending the issue of poverty and also
provide a firsthand information to be used by policy
makers administrators, social welfare agencies etc.
in effort to reduce poverty.
Secondly, it would be valuable to the academia
and provoke more or continuants research work
and analysis of poverty in or/its effect on human
Finally, this work shall provide or suggest
reasonable solution that will assist relevant
agencies saddled with the responsibility of
reduction of poverty as one of the pivot towards
achieving the millennium development goals and
sustainable development in Nigeria in particular
and Africa at large.
1.5 Literature Review
Poverty is the condition that exists when
people lacks the ability to satisfy their basic needs.
The basic need are those necessities for survival or
broadly as those reflecting the revealing standard
of living that is, those at the border line of nutrition,
housing, clothing among others though adequate to
preserve life but do measure up to those of the
population as whole (Encyclopedia Britannia 1978,
It is also a state of involuntary deprivation to
which a person, household and nations are
subjected. This means individuals, household, and
nations under scale can be poor, so long as it
exhibits the characteristics of poverty source
Poverty is also associated with poor health low
level of education, low level of calories in one‟s
diet, lack of shelter, low level of employment.
Furthermore, poverty refers to the inability of an
individual or family to secure basic needs even in
the midst of social surrounding of general
prosperity or lack of some general attribute that
would allow an individual to maintain himself. And
people that are associated with such behaviors like
inability to manage money either by laziness,
drunkenness and producing too many can make a
nation or an individual to be poor.
The concept of poverty like every other
concepts in the social sciences lack a precise
definition that can be said to be as patial and that
is temporal. If it perhaps this line of thought that
informed Aboyade (1975:4) to state that poverty is
probably not a subject to be defined or measured to
be appreciated, it may have to do with suffering
despite this remarks, the search for commonly
accepted characteristic of poverty for slicken
people continue to gain currency and as several
definition of poverty have been pasted by scholars.
In conceptualizing poverty, two schools of
thought have emerged. One of the schools is
classical economist they conceives poverty as lack
of income or material well-being, corroborating this
view Arinze (1995) described poverty as “the lack
of income needed to acquire the minimum
necessities of life.
Galbraith‟s (2002) citing Aneke (2000) state
that people are poverty slicken when their income
even if adequate for survival, fall markedly below
those of the commodity they cannot have what the
larger community regards.
Another school of thought structural approach
linked poverty to both economic variables.
AneLe (2000) argues that:
“If we focus on income alone, we are likely to
gloss over other equally important aspects of
deprivations, these includes powerlessness,
cultural deprivation, lack of influence, lack of
prestige and lack of self esteem‟‟ (Anele, 2000:12).
This argument corroborated with Broomley and
Gerry (1979). When they assert that poverty
emanates from a present and or past process of
improvement by which resources, opportunities and
economic surplus have been substantially removed
from people who are currently poor and or from
their for bearer
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