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Four in every ten Nigerian (40.1 per cent) earn less than ₦377 per day, but in Sokoto, Taraba and Jigawa, about nine in ten earn that amount, according to the 2019 poverty and inequality report by Nigeria’s statistics bureau.

Following closely behind these states are Ebonyi and Adamawa, where eight in ten earn ₦377 daily; as well as Zamfara, Yobe and Niger, where seven in ten earn that amount.

On the flipside are states with low poverty rates: Lagos (5 in 100), Delta (6 in 100), Osun (9 in 100), Ogun (9 in 100), and Oyo (10 in 100).


The report shows that 15 of the 17 states below the national average (i.e. where the majority of residents are poor) are in the northern part of the country. South-eastern states Ebonyi (80%) and Enugu (58%) are the other two poorest states.

Kwara, Kogi, Benue and the FCT, all in the north-central, are the only other northern states below the nation’s poverty line. Borno State was not captured in the survey due to accessibility.

Also, five of the best seven states are in the south-west. Ekiti, the sixth state in the region, ranks 12th with 28 per cent poverty rate. South-south states, Edo and Delta, are the other two in the top seven.

This variation exists, the report showed, due to the size of the households in each region. Households with 2–4 people have a poverty rate of 17.88 per cent. Those with 5–9 people have 40.9 per cent, while those with 10–19 people 67 per cent rate of poverty.

“There must be a strategic state policy on population control,” Azeez Olaniyan, a conflict and security expert, said. “A country that seeks to lift people out of poverty must engage in active production, rather than remain a service economy.”


The report further disclosed that poverty was more prevalent in rural areas. The urban poverty rate was put at 18.04 per cent while the rural poverty rate was 52.10 per cent. That’s about three times poorer.

By profession, the report found that the poverty rate is lowest among salary earners and non-farm workers, while poverty is highest among households whose heads are engaged in agricultural jobs only.

Jide Ojo, a development consultant, said there is need to tackle insecurity in farming zones to make farming more lucrative.


Furthermore, the data showed that the more education the head of a family has, the lower the rate of poverty in that household.

Across the board in this regard, households led by women outperform men with a decent margin. In other words, women with higher education tend to liberate their households from poverty quicker than men with the same educational qualification.

Analysts believe this alludes to the need to educate the girl child. Mr Olaniyan explained that the government needs to invest in human capital development such as education and human welfare for its people to flourish.


Gini index

Gini index is a statistical measure of expenditure distribution in the country. It is widely used to measure economic inequality between the haves and have-nots. Gini index near 0 indicates perfect equality while coefficients close to 100 denote perfect inequality.

Nigeria has a Gini coefficient of 35.1 per cent. This shows there is only a moderate gap between the haves and the have-nots. This is almost at par with UK’s 32.4 per cent, Canada’s 32.1 per cent, and India’s 35.2 per cent. The U.S. has 45 per cent while South Africa has 62.5 per cent.

The report

The 2019 poverty and inequality report was released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday. According to the report, 82.9 million (40.1%) Nigerians are poor, the highest by any country.

Nigeria will need to pull more than 17 million people out of poverty before it could cease to be the “poverty capital” of the world, because the second-placed, Democratic Republic of Congo, has over 66 million (75 per cent of its population) poor people.

However, Somalia (81 per cent), South Sudan (80 per cent) and Central African Republic (78 per cent) have the highest ratio of poor people to population size, according to the World Poverty Clock.

If 40.1 per cent represents 82.9 million people, as the report showed, then Nigeria has a population of about 207 million people.

The poverty line, the report said, was calculated by adding the food poverty line and the cost of non-food basic needs.

The statistics bureau defined being poor as earning a real per capita expenditures below ₦137,430 ($352). This is about ₦11,453 ($29) monthly, or ₦377 ($0.97) daily.

Invariably, any individual who spends less than ₦377 daily on food, shelter, clothing, health, education, electricity and security and other basic life needs is considered poor.

With the poverty line at ₦137,430, and poverty gap index (which measures those who are far below the poverty line and those very close to it) at 12.9, it means Nigeria will need ₦137,430 per its 207 million people to end extreme poverty.

This amounts to about ₦3.7 trillion (12.9% × ₦137,430 × 207 million).

Mr Ojo noted that even at this, poverty will continue to thrive if insecurity is not ebbed. The best way to tackle poverty, he explained, is to create an enabling environment, especially by investing heavily in human development.

“Tackle insecurity. Let people be able to take care of themselves. Incentivise MSMEs,” he said. “Improve the ease of doing business. Give accessible loans that are not cutthroat.”

Meanwhile, the methodology used by the NBS in calculating poverty rate differs from that of the World Poverty Clock, an online poverty tracker across the globe.

Based on data from UN, world bank, the IMF, and former estimates from the NBS, the tracker says about 102.4 million Nigerians are living in extreme poverty.

National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)

While NBS’ poverty line is $0.97, the tracker’s benchmark is put at $1.90 per day for this same needs. Now that NBS’ benchmark has changed it is expected that the tracker’s estimate could be adjusted.

But NBS maintained that: “Poverty is measured using consumption expenditures rather than income in Nigeria — similar to the approach taken by many other countries globally.”

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