President Buhari and the Legacy of Poverty. ||Caleb Onyeabor

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133 million Nigerians are now poor according to the recent report released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

The last report on Nigerian poverty figure pegged the figure at 87 million and that was in 2018. In 2022, the number have jumped to 133 million which is 63% of the country’s population.

That is, an additional 46 million person became poor in the last 4 years. Annually, it means, every year since 2018, about 11.5 million persons became poor. Weekly, it means, 221,153 persons became poor every week since 2018. That means, for every day since 2018, 31,593 persons became poor. This gives us a figure of 1,316 persons sliding into poverty per day since 2018.

When you remember that most times, the NBS report are not a complete representation of the realities on ground, this data scares you even more. For the man on th streets, the real figure is more !

When the World bank first released that report about poverty in Nigeria in 2018, they warned that with the trajectory Nigeria is taking, by 2030, one third of the world’s poorest persons will be in Nigeria. It is just 2022 and Nigeria is on course to proving them right.

Seven years under the leadership of President Buhari, the most populated black nation on Earth has become poorer. This is completely ironical to the expectations Nigerians placed on him when he contested and won against the then incumbent in 2015. Since 2015, it has been from one economic chaos and bombshell to another.

There are several things the President Buhari Administration did not get right. The first among the list is the failure of the Government to tame the ravaging insecurity that have kept farmers away from the farms. The northern part of the country which is food basket of the nation have been the hotspot of the activities of murderous bandits and terrorist herdsmen of which rural farmers are the most hit. In a country where about 65% of the population are local farmers or engaged in local farming and agriculture occupying between 23 – 25% of the country’s GDP, the failure to stop the attacks on rural farmers have affected agricultural productivity and the livelihood of millions of households. It has caused an unprecedented rise in the cost of food, seriously challenging the abilities of millions of household to afford food that is hardly even available. If farmers cannot go to farm, there will be no food. The prices of the little that will be available will go up and another problem of affordability will arise. Since the last 2 years when this insecurity reached its peak, Government has failed to control it. Farmers are at home, many are in internally displaced camps and a few have relocated to urban areas. And now there’s hunger.

The management of the country’s fiscal and monetary policies under the President Buhari Administration has always produced dooming results. Inflation have been at double digits even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war that disrupted the global economic space. As an import dependent economy with about 65% of commodities having imported contents, the woeful management of the country’s foreign exchange regime leading to a drastic fall of the naira against the dollars have contributed to the exacerbation of the cost of goods and services. With static and declining income levels, the standard of living has increasingly become unbearable.

Under President Buhari, the unhinged level of borrowings created a fiscal mess where debt servicing have overtaken the country’s revenue. In 2020, the percentage of debt servicing to revenue was 99%. This has grown to 109% in 2022. You cannot run an economy with such negative numbers. You cannot run an economy where you spend more on debt than you earn. The drop in revenue is a direct fallout of the magic going on in the country’s oil sector. For some inexcusable reasons, oil is still the major source of revenue and foreign exchange for the Nigerian Government but much of this oil, in the last 7 years, have been stolen. Crude oil production crashed by 24.73% in September 2022 to 937,766 barrels per day compared to 1,246 million barrels per day recorded at about the same time in 2021. Since 2021, $3.3 billion have been lost to oil theft. An average of 437,000 barrels per day have been lost since January 2022 till September 2022. Stolen crude oil is worth more than $10 billion, a financial loss that is 50% of Nigeria’s external reserves and more than double the total revenue from January to April the same year. In 2020, $1.63 billion was lost to crude oil theft. When you put all these together, Nigeria, under Buhari has lost more to crude oil theft than under any Administration in the country’s history.

Nigeria’s GDP has not grown pass 4% since Buhari became President. This is a growth rate that the country often exceeded from 2000-2015. The country is currently ranked 131 out of 190 in the ease of doing business despite its enormous human and natural resources. Since Buhari assumed power, Businesses have been closing down due to harsh and unfavorable business conditions. This contributed to soaring the unemployment rate to an all time high of 33%. Corruption has worsened under the Buhari Government as the country is ranked 154 out of 180 countries in the global corruption index.

There have been no coherent economic plan. The minister of finance is either unaware of a policy of Central Bank of Nigeria or the President himself who is usually unaware of whatever is happening under his watch.

All these put together, explains why the country’s poverty level have grown in geometric proportions.

Buhari was elected based on a populist mantra. Perhaps, he has proven true the theory that says that there is relationship between populist leaders and growth of poverty. Sometimes ago, he declared publicly that he plans to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. Since he made that declaration, 46 million Nigerians have fallen into the poverty net.

The Buhari Government claims as a strategy of poverty alleviation that it introduced the largest social investment programme in Africa. Programmes such as Trader Moni, Conditional Cash Transfer and N-Power where stipends are doled out to some selected beneficiaries. Buhari’s management of the economy is too shallow that it failed to capture the fact that stipends to the poor will can never replaced fixing the economy as a poverty alleviation strategy.

If the economy was working, there will be no need for the 10,000 naira trader moni scheme or 30,000 N-Power stipend. If the economy was working, traders will not be excited about receiving 10,000 naira nor youths receiving 30,000 naira in an inflation ridden market. With its failure to fix the economy, what the Nigerian government under Buhari has done is like drying up the river, starving the people of water and then, turn around to distribute a “Cup of Water” to quench thirst.

The Buhari Government Nigeria started by “drying up the river” and then sharing “a cup of water”. How hard is it for them to realize that the solution is in fixing the river. For the last 7 years, they failed to fix the river and have now doubled the number of persons who will be needing a cup of water to survive.

It took Nigeria 1960-2018 to hit 87 million poor persons and it took Nigeria 2018-2022 to increase its poverty rate by over 50%. That is, poverty growth in the last 7 years under Buhari is the highest under any Administration in Nigeria’s history.

Poverty is Buhari’s legacy to Nigeria. You cannot give what you don’t have. You cannot solve a problem that you do not have the solution to. Buhari began with impoverishing Nigerians and is ending with leaving a record poverty rate in the country. Poverty is Buhari’s first and last gift to Nigeria. A legacy that no President will ever want to have. In terms of economic management, Buhari has proven to be the worst in Nigeria’s history.

Caleb writes from Enugu. Follow him on Twitter on

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