POVERTY REDUCTION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
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 poverty.
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 countries.
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.
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. Wealth Creation Empowerment generation Poverty reduction Valve re-orientation (NEEDs DOCUMENT, 2008).
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 in Nigeria To assess how successful the various policies and programmed initiated to reduce poverty in Nigeria. 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 development.
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 framework 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 development.
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.
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