CHAPTER ONE: Introduction
1.1 Background to the study
The world today enjoys unprecedented progress in development. People are living
much longer and better lives, fewer mothers die at childbirth, fewer infants die from
preventable diseases, and in the past 50 years poverty has fallen. (UNDP, 2008). Yet, inspite
of these laudable achievements, it is acknowledged that the global advances have been
uneven, as the global south, that is, the third world countries also known as the
underdeveloped countries live in poverty, while the global north, that is, the first world
countries also known as developed countries have overcome poverty to a larger extent.
Poverty in Africa is an unfortunate condition that exists throughout Africa. It is a
widespread condition that has affected Nigeria and the African continent at large, resulting to
Africa being the poorest continent. Poverty is derived from many existing problems and
continue to cause devastating effects. Poverty as a problem affecting Nigeria and the African
continent is an inherent scourge that has seriously affected Nigeria and the African continent
overtime. As a result of the high rate of poverty in Africa, African nations regularly fall to the
bottom of any list measuring economic activity, such as per capita income or per capita GDP,
despite a wealth of natural resources. African continent is one region that poverty still looms
large, such that, the bottom 25 spots of the United Nations (UN) quality of life index are
regularly filled by African nations. In 2006, 34 of the 50 nations on the UN list of least
developed countries are in Africa. In many nations, the per capita income is often less than
$200 U.S. per year, with the vast majority of the population living on much less (UNDP
2010). Nigeria is Africa‟s most populous and diverse nation with an estimated population of
over 160 million; over 200 ethnic groups, 500 indigenous languages and two major religions
(Christianity and Islam). Nigeria is the largest country in Africa and one-sixth of the black
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population in the world (UN 2010). It is one of the poorest countries in the world with
approximately 90 million people living in absolute poverty (UNDP, 2008). Nigeria, the
“Giant of Africa” is a country abundantly blessed with natural and human resources, but in
the first four decades of its independence, the potentials remained largely untapped and even
mismanaged (Joseph 2008), It is the 8th largest deposit of natural gas in the world (Soludo,
2006). There are also abundant solid mineral deposits that remained largely untapped.
Currently, barely 40% of its arable land is under cultivation. Startling as it may be, about twothirds of Nigerian people are poor (UNDP 2010). Although revenues from crude oil have been
increasing over the past decades, Nigerians have been falling deeper into poverty. In 1980 an
estimated 27% of Nigerians lived in poverty. By 1999, about 70% of the population had
income of less than $1 a day and the figure has risen since then (NEEDS, 2005). Poverty
levels vary across the country, with the highest proportion of poor people in the Northwest
and the lowest in the Southeast. A classical example to underscore the scope of misfortune is
to compare Nigeria with Indonesia and Malaysia. Prior to the time Nigeria and Indonesia had
the first oil boom Soludo (2006) contends that both countries were comparable in almost all
spheres. In 1973 both experienced oil boom and thereafter, took different policy choices. The
outcomes of the differences in policy regimes are such that today, while manufactures as
percentage of total exports is about 40% in Indonesia, it is less than 1% in Nigeria where we
were in 1970s (Soludo 2006). It would be recalled that even Malaysia that has overtaken
Nigeria got her first palm seedlings from Nigeria in the early 1960s, when oil palm produce
was a major export of Nigeria. In the 1990s, it was said that Malaysia‟s export of palm oil
produce earned it more than Nigeria earned from oil exports (Soludo, 2006).
In as much as the country boasts of high natural resources such as oil, coal, tin, cocoa
and so much more in the agricultural sector, it still has a huge setback in curbing the high rate
of poverty amongst other problems. Poverty has been quite endemic and has continued to
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draw attract from the world community, It is due to issue of poverty amongst other problems
affecting the third world countries/under-developed countries that the international
community came up with Millennium Development Goals in the year 2000. At the dawn of
the new millennium, the largest-ever gathering of Heads of state and government adopted the
United Nations (UN) Millennium Declaration, known as the Millennium Development Goals
at the Millennium summit which committed both rich and poor nations to the values and
principles of the UN and the pursuit of several key objectives which include amongst others;
poverty eradication. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) includes;
1) To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
2) To achieve universal primary education.
3) To promote gender equality and empower women.
4) To reduce child mortality.
5) To improve maternal health.
6) To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
7) To ensure environmental sustainability.
8) To develop a global partnership for development.
These goals emerged from that Summit and were hailed as the blueprint designed to
galvanize unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world‟s poorest and was directed
towards meeting the needs of the developing countries. A target date of 2015 was set for the
attainment of these goals for the developing world (UN 2000)
This research therefore examines the issue of poverty in Nigeria and the stage of
realisation of Millennium Development Goal of eradicating poverty by 2015, the target date.
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1.2 Statement of Problem
Nigeria is a heavily populated country whose percentage of those living in poverty
almost equals the entire population of the next most populous African country – Ethiopia
(Joseph, 2008). Nigeria though rich in natural resources, is currently ranked among the 13
poorest countries in the world (UN 2010). With per capital income falling significantly to
about $300 (below the Sub-Sahara average of $450) approximately more than 90 million of
Nigeria‟s 160 million people are living in absolute poverty, that is, on less than one dollar a
day (World bank, 2009). The Northern part of the country accounts for the highest percentage
of people living in poverty with about 36%, the West with about 24%, the South with about
19% and the East with about 21% (UNDP 2011). It is important to tackle poverty in Nigeria
as the scourge leads to several problems affecting the country such as, corruption, high crime
rate, high death rate, illiteracy. (Joseph 2008) is of the view that poverty does not only affect
the people that are going through it , but affects everyone and the country at large and poverty
causes hunger which can lead to whole lots of vices. The effects of poverty are enormous on a
nation, as well as the people. Given the challenges posed by poverty and the dimensions of
poverty in Nigeria‟s development, the study seeks to examine the level of progress Nigeria
has made in poverty eradication from the time of the establishment of the Millennium
Development Goals in the year 2000 to the present time 2015.
1.3 Objectives of Study
To ascertain the extent of Nigeria‟s poverty eradication from the time of the
Millennium Summit, to the target period of 2015.
To identify the barriers and challenges to attaining the Millenium development goal of
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To identify what must be done to effectively address the challenges and ensure
sustainable progress towards attaining Millennium Development Goal one.
1.4 Research Questions
To what extent has Nigeria gone in eradicating poverty from the time of the
Millennium Summit (2000) to the target period of 2015
What are the barriers and challenges to eradicating poverty in Nigeria?
What must be done to address the challenges and ensure sustainable progress towards
attaining Millennium Development Goal one?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study is important because it will add to the existing knowledge of individuals,
non-governmental organisations and academics on the issue of poverty in Nigeria and
the stage of achievement of the Millennium Development Goal one in 2015.
The study will be useful to the policy makers because attempts will be made to profer
workable solutions that will help the government in the fight towards poverty
reduction in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s progress in eradicating poverty in the country from the year 2000 (the time
of the Millenium Development Summit) to 2015 (The target date for achieving the Millenium
Poverty is an issue that most people write on, thus there exist data from many
unconfirmed sources as regards to it and these materials often seem to be contradicting.
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However in other to surmount this problem, this study would try to compare the data set by
the United Nations (UN), the UNDP, the World bank and Nigeria Bureau of Statistics.
1.8 Operational definition of term
This study adopts the definition of poverty as the state in which one lacks a certain
amount of material possessions or money and the deprivation of basic human needs such as
food, water, shelter, clothing, health care and education.
1.9 Organization of study
This research work is divided into five chapters. The first chapter, which is the
introduction, looks at the background to the study, statement of the problem, objective of the
study, research questions, significance of the study, organization of chapters as well as scope
of the study. The second chapter analyses theoretical and conceptual frameworks and a review
of relevant literature focusing on the issue of poverty in Nigeria. The third chapter looks at the
methodology, research design, area of study, methods of data collection and data analysis
techniques. Chapter four deals with the presentation and analysis of data collected,
interpretation and discussion of findings, The fifth chapter is the summary, conclusion and
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