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1.1.Background to the study

The poverty problem in Nigeria has been noted to be a growing phenomenon and has widened its breadth and depth in the past few decades embracing more comprehensive conceptualizations. Multidimensional poverty has captured the attention of researchers and policy-makers alike, to the compelling conceptual writings of Sen (1985) and the unprecedented availability of relevant data. (Alkire and Foster, 2008). According to Sen’s (1985, 1992, 1999) theory of capabilities, there is unanimity about the Multidimensional Conception of Poverty and others whose arguments have essentially reshaped the way we think about poverty, going beyond the notion of economic well-being embedded in the traditional approaches (uni-dimensional measure). Poverty is profoundly endemic in many countries especially in less developed countries. In Nigeria, poverty is a reality that depicts the lack of food, clothes, education, and other basic amenities. Severely poor people lack the most basic necessities of life. There are several effects and deficiencies associated with poverty in Nigeria. One of the main effects of poverty is poor medical services, as is reflected in Nigeria’s high infant mortality and low life expectancy. Poor people in Nigeria face several medical issues as they lack basic health amenities and competent medical practitioners. Most children do not have the opportunity of being immunized and this leads to certain physical defects in some of the children, they live with whatever they are provided with, whether healthy or not. The key factors that contribute to poverty in Nigeria as cited in Ucha (2010) are: unemployment, especially among young graduates, corruption, especially among political office holders, non-diversification of the economy, income inequality, laziness, especially among those who come from wealthy households, and a poor educational system.

There have been several reports on poverty trends in Nigeria, that is, on changes in the depth and incidence of poverty over time. For instance, poverty statistics showed that poverty level declined from 46.3 percent in 1985 to 42.7 percent in 1992, and later rose sharply to 65.6 percent of the population in 1996 (Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, NBS, 1996). However, in absolute terms the population of the poor Nigerians increased four-fold between 1980 and 1996. Also, poverty rate was reduced from 65.8 percent in 1996 to 54.4 percent in 2004


(NBS, 2004). Although there was a drop in poverty rate to 46 percent in 2009 (NBS, 2010), the number of people living in poverty is approximately 70 million (NBS, 2011).

Nigerians in terms of Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI) value for 2007 is 0.470 ranking 158th among 177 countries, value for 2010 is 0.429 ranking 157th among 187 countries and value for 2011 is 0.459 ranking 156th among 187 countries. Thus, poverty reduction is undoubtedly one of the highest ranking issues in the national strategies of Nigeria which is reflected in Millennium Development Goal (MDG 1).

Table 1.1. Shows Nigeria’s progress in each of the Human Development Index (HDI) indicators. Between 1980 and 2013, Nigeria’s life expectancy at birth increased by 6.9 years, mean years of schooling increased by 0.2 years and expected years of schooling increased by 2.3 years. Nigeria’s GNI per capita increased by about 25.7 percent between 1980 and 2013. (UNDP, 2013).

Table 1.1: Nigeria’s HDI trends based on consistent time series data and new goalposts.


Life  expectancy


Mean  years

of  GNI per capita


at birth


of  schooling

(2011 PPP$)



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