The Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) yesterday said the number of Nigerians living in extreme poverty now stands at an estimated 102 million.
NECA at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos said the figure emanated from the World Data Lab.
President of the Association, Taiwo Adeniyi, in his address at the occasion said the figure represented about 15 percent of the total number of people living in extreme poverty across the world and 50 percent of the Nigeria’s estimated population of over 205 million.
“Two years after it was reported that Nigeria had surpassed India as the nation with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty across the world, the country’s poverty ranking has continued to surge.
With COVID-19 pandemic, the figure could only be imagined,” he said.
The World Poverty Clock, a web tool based on World Data Lab’s global poverty model estimated in June 2018 that 86.9 million Nigerians were living on less than $1.90 a day.
Adeniyi lamented that the figure has increased by over 15 million in the past two years, adding that worsening unemployment has played a major role in the upsurge in poverty in the country.
He said, “It is practically impossible to separate unemployment from poverty. The longer people stay out of employment or any reasonable means of income, the higher the rate of poverty.
“As at Q3, 2019, the unemployment rate was reported at 23.1 percent, under-employment rate 20.1 percent, with combined unemployment and under-employment rate at, 43.3 percent.”
The NECA President stated that these figures, with the disruptions created by COVID-19 pandemic, have the potential to skyrocket the nation’s crime rate, poverty level, insurgency, child labour, militancy, armed robbery, kidnappings and drug abuse, among others.
According to the Association, for every ten jobs created globally, the private sector accounts for nine, adding that government was expected to give more support to the Organised Private Sector (OPS) in the country to succeed, rather than the current regulatory environment characterised with strangulation and crass exploitation of businesses.
“Specific palliatives and job retention schemes should be made available to businesses to fast-track economic recovery and promote job creation,” he said.
Calling for urgent reforms, Adeniyi averred that the rising cost of governance juxtaposed with dwindling revenue, rising population and shrinking economic fortunes portend danger for the country if not urgently addressed. He noted that with over 36 ministers, a bogus bi-cameral National Assembly, State Assemblies, Councillors and other retinue of aides, Nigeria cannot continue on its current path of avoidable profligacy.
The NECA boss said that despite progress recorded on the ease of doing business front, not much has translated to improved economy as its major indicators are still in distress. He urged the government to engage the OPS more on the way out.
In his address at the occasion through zoom, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director for Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liason Office ECOWAS, Mr. Dennis Zulu noted that COVID-19 has not only brought challenges, but opportunities in more effective ways of doing jobs.
He commended NECA’s effort at providing leadership for members OPS to wade through the challenges of the pandemic.