Mass Poverty in Nigeria

Adeola Aderounmu

I had used the term “mass poverty” in a recently published article in The Guardian (Nigeria: The absence of Common Good 21/5/07).

A popular online dictionary defined mass in the noun sense as a large body of persons in a compact group. The same dictionary defined mass further as the great body of the people as contrasted with the elite. It is from mass that the commonly used plural form “masses” was obtained. Poverty describes the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. The Merriam Webster dictionary informs that poverty may cover a range from extreme want of necessities to the absence of material comforts.

These introductory definitions reveal that mass poverty without doubt is prevalent in Nigeria. Simply, mass poverty is the poverty that affects the masses of a population who have extreme want of necessities. Mass poverty in Nigeria epitomizes this definition plus the aspect that expatiate on the almost complete absence of material comforts. In general, mass poverty is an expression with broad implications that goes beyond the limitations of the amount of money or material possessions that the people have. 

A quick trip round Nigeria like the one that changed Pat Utomi’s life and views on the perception of Nigeria can reveal much. It is very annoying actually to see the reality of life in everyday Nigeria in contrast to the deceitful jingles and praise singings that the government and sycophants orchestrate. What we see and what we get as Nigerians is not what we deserve. We deserve a better life.

 

Poverty in Nigeria has many indices. This discussion on poverty may actually have been overflogged yet it is still been addressed and treated locally and internationally. Nigeria is a country with over 140 million people therefore the dimension of mass poverty in Nigeria is both dreadful and shocking. Many citizens of Nigeria cannot afford to live a decent life. Several millions of Nigerians do not have the usual or socially acceptable amount of money or materials possessions. Only a few people are comfortable.

The situation is made worse because of the absence of basic infrastructure of life.  It doesn’t seem that successive governments in Nigeria are involved in providing houses for masses in Nigeria after the 1970s. Some states governments have been involved in building houses that are affordable by the few and more privileged persons, the elites. Beyond the textbook editions or verbal policy, what are the roles of the Ministry of Housing? The masses are invariably always out of the poverty alleviation or eradication question.

Commonly, drinking water does not flow in Nigerian homes. People have to buy water as many bore holes have run dry and the public taps have virtually disappeared. You begin to wonder what the functions of the Water Corporation are. Even cities like Lagos that is lineated by the Atlantic Ocean plus a number of internal lagoons cannot get water to its inhabitants. Yet, every election year the people receive promises from desperate politicians that they will be provided with water. Lies upon deceits you may say.  

There is nothing more serious to express the physical mass poverty in Nigeria than the prevalence of hunger. Food substances are the cheapest things you can lay your hands on in some other countries. In Nigeria, common and staple foods are now very expensive and many people have devised different formula to survive daily, weekly or monthly. Stepping into a new year is seen as a miracle in Nigeria. What is the significance of the Agriculture Ministry when there are no clear policies on how to put food on the (dining) table of the masses? To what use are the vast fertile lands across the length and breadth of Nigeria?

Food, water and housing are 3 important parameters to measure the values of our lives and these things have become elusive to the masses in Nigerians. However, mass poverty in Nigeria has other ugly faces. For example, the purchasing power of the Naira is extremely weak. In some very bad situations, some people do not have money at all.

There has not been efficient or functional power supply even if you can conveniently pay for it. There may be no fuel to run the noisy and environmentally unfriendly generators. Nigerians have no known options to blackouts. It is a hard reality of life. It depicts cruelty. This deficiency of power supply has aided the mass poverty as thousands of people have been put out of job since many companies can no longer sustain their operations in the absence of it.

The situation is very demoralizing and still there are worse things that define the intensity and seriousness of mass poverty in Nigeria. The Nigerian masses and elites cannot travel on safe roads. The masses are more affected because there is constant chaos in the public transportation methods. The conditions are dehumanising to say the least.

Mass poverty in Nigeria is further displayed in the health schemes. There are no solid or clear cut health care policies to care for the population especially babies, pregnant women and old people who are more helpless than other groups of people. The cost of getting good treatment at the hospital is prohibitive and the access of modern health facilities is greatly hindered. I am not sure if there are handicap friendly facilities in public places in Nigeria. The poor and helpless masses are always at the receiving end of all the misgivings of the politicians and policy makers.

The overall consequences of poverty are diverse. Quickly, some of these things have spiral effects and these have obviously spun down to the upcoming generations. For example as a result of the range of extreme want of necessities and the absence of material comforts, the children of the masses no longer have access to quality education. They do not have adequate recreational facilities and their social orientations are falsely modified by various things around them and those that they are unduly exposed to. What is going on daily in Nigeria as a way of life shows very sorry states of things. It was not even that bad 10 years ago.

In place of studying hard for examinations or challenges, people are now stereotyped that they can always cut corners as typically exemplified by the widely condemned and shameful selections (there were no elections) of 2007. They are suffering from the poverty of good knowledge and many have completely lost hope in the system that begot them.   

Mass poverty can also result from high rate of unemployment. There has been an upsurge in armed robbery in recent years. It is not uncommon to find school drop outs and unemployed graduates among the criminals who have become very merciless in their operations. In addition to this, it was a rude shock for me to discover recently that many primary school and secondary students now have some form of allegiance to other persons in their localities or areas. I could not believe that secret cults are no longer secrets.

True stories have been told how some young people have been killed by what seemed like cults activities in broad day lights. I was told that some were shots dead in unsuccessful robbery operations at other places. These stories are told nowadays like “it’s one of those things”. Things have really gone from bad to worse. Many years ago in Nigeria, the emphasis was on academic excellence and sporting activities at leisure.  Indeed, things have changed and very worryingly too. Could all these be due to the spiral effect of poverty in action? What role does poverty play in other neglected aspects of our lives?

I know that a few people consider my stance very hard and extreme but they are mistaken. As a matter of fact, living abroad does not mean that one has escaped the poverty in Nigeria. Each time I find myself in Nigeria, I still find myself living the life I’ve always lived before I travelled out. I go to the same places that I know and the conditions are very bad. I go to places like Oshodi, Mile 2, Ojuelegba, Agboju, Okokomaiko and other areas like Mushin, what I see is poverty and suffering like I’ve always known. I see the struggle called Life and I live it too. My lucky friends and some other lucky people who work in Banks and oil companies no longer share my views. They have forgotten that Nigeria is big and that majority of the people are still living below the poverty line.  They think that other people are lazy or destined to be poor maybe! 

My personal experiences and observations showed that Mass Poverty accelerated by absolute rot of governance over the years may have taken its toll on virtually all aspects of the Nigerian life and the issue cannot be treated in one piece of writing or essay. It will be interesting to see how the issue of mass poverty will be tackle by a new and legitimate government in Nigeria.

Ordinary Nigerians (especially those who cannot treat their leg ache, head ache and stomach ache abroad) have gone through a lot of life excruciating and traumatic experiences especially in the last 8 years when all the hopes raised at the onset of the new found democracy were suddenly and completely dashed.

The Nigerian masses are obviously suffering from poverty inflicted on them mainly by very bad governance but they are not dimmed and they should not be taken as fools because the resiliency in the typical Nigerian is simply a focal indicator of hope for a brighter day and a better tomorrow.  

Adeola Aderounmu   

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37 thoughts on “Mass Poverty in Nigeria

  1. Hmmm, like I said in your article about June 12 1993 “great write up” you have done it again! Thanks for your undiluted views about the situation in Nigeria. “Mass poverty” is the best expression to describe the situation in our beloved country.

    Yeah, some people who are ‘lucky’ like you said have forgotten that they are just a tiny percentage of the millions of Nigerians living in poverty daily. Living outside Nigeria at the moment I still can’t deny the fact that millions of Nigerians live each day without one proper meal not to talk of three square meals! What is going on?

    I was watching a movie last week, dying for tomorrow, starring mike ezuruonye and justus esiri, I couldn’t hold back the tears as it was a plain description of what was happening in Nigeria. In brief the moving was about a boy of a poor background whose education was sponsored by the community, he studies well in the university and made a first class in civil engineering, but after graduation, where was the job? Two years after the jobs came but he was expected to commit fraudulent activities such as constructing half baked roads!!!(which breaks down after few rainfalls and cause big potholes that send masses into untimely eternity!). So he lost about five jobs until he had to involve himself in internet hacking as the community who sponsored him had high hopes of success. He became a wasted future, a wasted fountain of knowledge and truth! This is a true replication of what is happening in our dear country!

    What can we do about the Chief Never Satisfied and Chief Selfishness, stuffed in all the important and high offices of our country. Except the greedy generation can be wiped out before they transfer it to the coming generation, only God can help save the masses!

    If you come across this article and you are guilty let your consciences judge you and know that you are being fattened while thousands starve and overwork (to make a living) to death daily. Save the masses, Save Nigeria!

  2. Changes in the last comment, sorry I didnt read through before sumbmitting. changes in uppercase letters:

    Paragraph 3, Line 3, In brief the MOVIE was about…

    Paragraph 3, line 5, ….he STUDIED well….

  3. Your article is excellent.Those who are away from Nigeria actually think they have escaped the poverty in Nigeria. No. As they make their dollars they should remember to set up NGO’s at home to at least address some poverty issues in Nigeria or at their home communities.

  4. It may take time but Nigerians will come out of poverty.the present generation may not witness it , i know the future is bright for our children.just do your own part in eradicating it.long live NIGERIA.

  5. this is a powerful and impactful article .But we have heard enough of the problem,we need to come up with strategic ways and means of eradicating the problem than we painting the picture every day without suggesting ways of solving it.thanks

  6. Good observations by you. We all know what has reduced NIgeria to nothing. For those who sham ignorance, these have to do with leadership problems and corruption. With the unwillingness of our present crops of leaders to thread along the path of political ritheousness and shun corrupt practices it is difficult to foretell if Nigeria will ever be good country where all can confidentently refer to as one’s own country.

    Only time will tell but one thing I know is that Nigerians are suffering as a lot of us cannot feed with no employments visible. Again, I must warn that if nopthing is done to correct all of these present problems, major problems await Nigeria and Nigerians and one day we shall begin to ask God to turn back the hand of clock for us to correct our past mistakes which shall have become minor compare to what we shall be talking about in time to come.

  7. I think the issue of poverty in nigeria is a relative issue depending on how we interperete the word. However, i believe that the government really need to make use of sociologists, who should be employed to study the crucial aspects of the society and profer solutions to the issue of poverty.

  8. we can eradicate poverty in nigerai and in africa at large if government can stop crime and injustice in this conutry.

  9. Your article is fully detailed on the plight of nigerians, but its quite a pity that our leaders see this things in different light. With the current strike of university lecturers they dont seem to believe in the future of nigeria.

  10. I think that rather look up to the government, we Nigerians should look beyond the TREASURY and look at the TREASURE in us. Believe me there may not be a general solution to this Menance. THE ONLY SOLUTION YOU WILL HAVE IS THE ONE YOU BRING ABOUT.
    Keep Living!!!!!!!

  11. Selfish interest of Nigerians politicians has been a great cause of mass poverty in nigeria for a decade now.

  12. Thank you very much for your excellent and objective view of the State of the Nigerian nation. The Economic and Natural Problems of Nigeria in particular and the World in general are harbingers of the end of time. Bible prophecy disclosed that as the world approaches its end perilious time hard to deal with shall enveloped the earth. Man’s ingenuity cannot solve this problems. Even the so-called western democracies have fail to proffer solutions to global economic maladies. People need to take notice of the Scriptural warning about the period in which we are living in and be interested in the most important thing, the salvation of their soul. Even so-called professing Christians or born again Christains are unaware of the fact that the Kingdom of God, which is the Government of God, has indeed been established upon this earth as Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. Strangely enough, it is not through the force of communism, or some dictatorship, or by means of even a peaceful election “by the people, for the people,” that the prophesied One World Government is being established in our day! For the Bible says the Kingdom of God commeth not by observation nor with signs and wonders except the sign of Jonah. (That is, taking people by surprise). Our Lord Jesus Christ has said that He will come as a Thief in the night. This is the appointed time for God to directly Rule so that His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. So Our Lord Jesus Christ has come back with a New Name, The King of kings and The Lord of lords, His Holiness Olumba Olumba Obu. He holds the key to all problems including all the natural disaters, economic and natural tsunamies, good governance, peace, joy and prosperity. Seek Him by confessing your sins in humility and call upon His New Name and thou shalt be saved. You would no longer have poverty staring you at the face, no more unemployment, sickness, or death. For the former things has passed away, He has made everything anew. Amen.

  13. Thanks a million for such a wonderful profile. Poverty in Nig. has indeed gone beyond what vocal expression will keep doing. The earlier the better, what do l mean, anything you have or can offer to salvage this situation should be done right a way. Are you among the haves, set up an NGO,anyhow longlive Nig. But virtually everything is detoriating at an alarming rate in our dear country Nig. Bye

  14. What is happening Naija? This is the only country where a thief will be proud of his or her work. We heard one former state governor defending for an allegation against him saying,’ l’m l the only thief’ His case is, and’ll never cease to be under investigation by the so called EFCC. The founder of EFCC is a wicked and corrupt man. He has a case to answer from the EFCC but is immuned. Darkness cannot fight each other, else, there’ll be division among themselves. Not that naija govt cannot fight corruption but they are deliberatly wicked. If God did not intervane nig is heading to doom. Christians there’s a call to total warfare else this impending doom will spare noone. But for all l know Nigeria must survive.

  15. nice work man. in addition, poverty in nigeria also can be reduced or completely eliminated if the gap in the income distribution of the country can be bridged, if we can figth corruptioin in this system which will be very hard to do, by getting the rigth people to lead us that is let the good people enter politics, ………..

  16. Dear All,

    Great insight and unprecedented capacity of deciphering the issues of Nigeria. Well done to everyone!

    Categorically, we say a few ailing but power elite are the ones running the country into the ground.

    From where l stand we are cowards and our response to inequalities and unfairness is, look and be hopeful.

    What are Ade, Chioma, Titi, Uche, and Bello, doing about this? Well, they insulate themselves and adjust even further by adapting.

    Meanwhile, Ade, Chioma, Titi, Uche, and Bello in the Nigerian corporate world are beginning to taste, what the results of a structured and economic vibrant society will be.

    On the flip side, Ade, Chioma, Titi, Uche, and Bello, Nigerians returning from the Americas, Europe are bravely setting up business and stimulating the economy.

    The fact is the road to success for Nigeria is long; however, let us get on with it.

    Here is the prescription:
    a) Do you bit and stand up against unfairness or negativity
    b) Flex your intellectual capacity to improve the situation in your community
    c) Avoid non-value add political debates, clouds the mind
    d) Subscribe to international information channels daily – open your mind but keep on learning
    e) Copy and paste positivity with pride wherever you see it
    f) Reward good with good and say it
    g) Reward bad with shame and castigation, but move on fast
    h) Look back only if you could learn from the past
    i) Stride boldly and take charge of your destiny – don’t wait for anyone!
    j) Worship if you like, but with your eyes wide open on your goals and objectives – get on with it!

    About the few ailing but power elite running the country into ground, time will take them out, but remember they have sown seeds, their fruits remain.

  17. It is amazing to me how that the only place in the world that is not progressing foward is sub-saharian Africa, in whuch Nigeria is part of. Looking back I think that these African countries got their independence too quick, and problems that should have been dealt with before independence never got straightened out afterwards. Asia and Latin America has done alot better eventhough there are still unresolved problems. As long as black Africa continues to slip more&more backwards, she will just spin her wheels in the mud. She has no one else to blame but herself.

  18. The idea of the mases to be completely wipe off as many would suggest cannot apparently bring change. Understand that you and I is a member of the mases mentioned, as you are thinking positively so are some individuals who are only waiting for opportunities. But one shocking and suprising thing is the person who search for where opportunities lurk and also promising become negative and show unscrupulous concern on accession so desired.

  19. the definition of poverty in nigeria is at the top most chat in our world today,but i want all nigeria to know that is too late to keep defining our problems,is time to stop analysing our problems and think and act to solve them,as for me i have come out to be used by god to bring change in this country,presently i have an NGO,that train people on skill acquisition.

  20. Pingback: My Blog: Thy Glory O’ Nigeria..! 2010 in review | Thy Glory O Nigeria..!

  21. Hmmmm…Intelligence everywhere! WaooO!
    Drybones will rise again! Nigeria we hail thee, our own dear native land!
    Nigeria is an agreed concept! Just like money is! My dicipline as an architect prompts my view to issues of life. As much as l commend this outstanding writer, l must also tell one very intresting contributor known as ‘X’ that “the road to success is not only long, but always under construction!”
    be that as it may, l hereby propose a solution…Until we the “masses” come to terms with reality, which bites, we Will still be groping and wandering blindly in the gross darkness of this unending trauma…My proposition is this: A MASS CONSENTED AND DETERMINED RESOLVE TO COMMENCE A LONG LASTING, UNINTERRUPTED
    REVOLT! A DETERMINED REVOLUTION…Peacfully.
    After which Form will Follow Function!
    Very seriously.

  22. “and Jesus asked,(‘who do men say l am?’)”
    I just got back from the countries fencing Nigeria…Now l know what people are saying of our great country, Nigeria!
    I was very upset when l heard the views they had of us! Lets defeat all these views bit by bit. All individual hands, CAN WE PLEASE PUT IT ON DECK?
    Mine are! I have invented a unique system of construction. Lets together, build our once great country again, lets provoke the former Glory, lets re build our broken walls! PLEASE???!!!

  23. …a situation like this is CHANGING with time, but depend on how fast or slow. If am to rate it, is SLUGGISH ECONOMICALLY!

  24. Your essay has said everything about the praxis of the poverty index of the pauper Nigerians who survive on 0 0 water in Nigeria.Only God of Host can help us extricate ourselves from the fabricadum of poverty starring at us in the face.

  25. So if that is the case what are held responsible for nigerian rapid poverty especially the mass.

  26. Your article is suculently educative.Please i need materials on proverty range affecting the countyry.Due to the high proverty rate in nigeria,what has the government done to curb the situation of her country

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