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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 two-thirds 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

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