1.1 Background of the Study

Many people when they hear or read about the word poverty will automatically think and look at poverty as being simply a lack of money. This is partly true but for a better understanding of poverty it is necessary to go beyond this simple or common sense, definition of poverty. Poverty is much more than a simple lack of money. For example, if you were stranded on a desert island and you had several thousand dollars or pounds in cash, while those around you had things like food, clothing and shelter would be in poverty? You could not eat your money, nor could. Your fellow inhabitants might not even want your money, particularly if they believe that a rescue is not eminent. In such a situation, lack of money means equal poverty. This is, however, only part of the story with regard to poverty yet in order to understand poverty and inequality, we must probe beneath surface reality and go beyond the common sense explanation which is simply another for cliché.

Definitions of Poverty

There are two different ways in which researchers define poverty; Absolute poverty and relative poverty.

Absolute poverty refers to the situation in which a person lacks those things that help to sustain human life. The lack of basic human needs such as food, shelter and clothing. This form of poverty was once quite common in countries such as Britain and American but has since declined, particularly since the introduction of the welfare state. This form of poverty is still prevalent in many third world countries.

Relative poverty refers to the situation in which a person lacks the necessary resources to enable them to participate in the normal and desirable pattern of life that exist within a given society at a given time. For example, if you cannot afford to have a cooked meal then you may not be in absolute poverty but you are certainly in relative poverty.

Poverty is not new but at each mention, it stirs a lot of misgiving. This is because it has a very devastating influence on its victims. It reduces the social and psychological prestige of its victims. Poverty is a condition of being poor. This could be evident even amidst plenty because there could be reeking poverty as a result of lack of knowledge to translate potentiality into practical creativity for the benefit of society.

In other words, if there is a poverty of something, it therefore means that there is a lack of it or the quality of it is extremely low. The foregoing shows the picture of our beloved country, especially when a deep reflection is made on the Nigerian question and the Nigerian condition. It is also so pathetic in the sense that the country that is potentially rich in oil and gas and other natural resources cannot boast of putting food on the tables of its citizens in fact an average Nigeria is said to be living below one dollar. Researcher has it that the foundation of most social vices and corrupt practices both in high and low places is caused by poverty. At present, Nigeria is rated as one of the poorest country of the world, a country with abundant resources both in human and mineral resources. It is as a result of this and other maladies that are experienced by the citizens of the world especially the third world countries that the United Nations in year 2000 in a meeting popularly referred to as millennium summit in the United State of America, arrived at the millennium development goals, (MDGs). According to UN the 189 members of this organization by 2015 are supposed to have met these goals. The nine goals have the “reduction of extreme poverty and hunger” as the first goal to be met by the stipulated year.

As a member of the United Nations Nigeria keyed into the MDGs and subsequently produce a policy document called the national economic empowerment and development strategy (NEEDs). This development goals specifically has the following actionable goals.

Wealth Creation

Empowerment generation

Poverty reduction

Valve re-orientation (NEEDs DOCUMENT, 2008)

The NEEDs as a national policy was intended to meeting some of the goals of the MDGs especially poverty reduction. In assessing the performance of MDGs and NEEDS in Nigeria especially when it relates to “poverty reduction” one can say without fears of contradiction that millennium development goals have performed below the expectation of Nigerian. It is at the backdrop of this realization that this paper is set to examine the MDGs and poverty reduction as it geared towards bringing sustainable development in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Over the last ten years poverty has been very real in Nigeria and quality of the average Nigerian citizen has progressively nosedived. It is so endemic in Nigeria that people have started seeing it as part of their lot in life. It is at the backdrop of this that this paper is set to examine the MDGs and poverty reduction as it is geared towards bringing sustainable development in Nigeria.

This study therefore addresses some specific questions as outlined below:

What factor is responsible for high level of poverty in Nigeria?

What has been the impact of various poverty reduction programmes in Nigeria?

Will Nigeria really reduce poverty by 2015 going by the current situation in the country?

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The general objective of the study is to analyze and evaluate the rate of poverty in Nigeria.

Against this backdrop, the following specific objectives will be address in the study:

To identify the factors responsible for poverty in Nigeria

To assess how successful the various policies and programmed initiated to reduce poverty in Nigeria.

To ascertain the level of whether Nigeria will be able to meet millennium development goals (MDGs) by 2015.

To recommend policy response and suggest how to reduce poverty in Nigeria in order to meet MDGS and ensure sustainable development.

1.4 Significance of the Study

The essence of any meaningful research work lies in its significance and usefulness to humanity.

This study will provide a conceptual frame work for comprehending the issue of poverty and also provide a firsthand information to be used by policy makers administrators, social welfare agencies etc. in effort to reduce poverty.

Secondly, it would be valuable to the academia and provoke more or continuants research work and analysis of poverty in or/its effect on human development.

Finally, this work shall provide or suggest reasonable solution that will assist relevant agencies saddled with the responsibility of reduction of poverty as one of the pivot towards achieving the millennium development goals and sustainable development in Nigeria in particular and Africa at large.

1.5 Literature Review

Poverty is the condition that exists when people lacks the ability to satisfy their basic needs. The basic need are those necessities for survival or broadly as those reflecting the revealing standard of living that is, those at the border line of nutrition, housing, clothing among others though adequate to preserve life but do measure up to those of the population as whole (Encyclopedia Britannia 1978, vol. 14).

It is also a state of involuntary deprivation to which a person, household and nations are subjected. This means individuals, household, and nations under scale can be poor, so long as it exhibits the characteristics of poverty source (MVO, 2009:24).

Poverty is also associated with poor health low level of education, low level of calories in one‟s diet, lack of shelter, low level of employment. Furthermore, poverty refers to the inability of an individual or family to secure basic needs even in the midst of social surrounding of general prosperity or lack of some general attribute that would allow an individual to maintain himself. And people that are associated with such behaviors like inability to manage money either by laziness, drunkenness and producing too many can make a nation or an individual to be poor.

The concept of poverty like every other concepts in the social sciences lack a precise definition that can be said to be as patial and that is temporal. If it perhaps this line of thought that informed Aboyade (1975:4) to state that poverty is probably not a subject to be defined or measured to be appreciated, it may have to do with suffering despite this remarks, the search for commonly accepted characteristic of poverty for slicken people continue to gain currency and as several definition of poverty have been pasted by scholars.

In conceptualizing poverty, two schools of thought have emerged. One of the schools is classical economist they conceives poverty as lack of income or material well-being, corroborating this view Arinze (1995) described poverty as “the lack of income needed to acquire the minimum necessities of life.

Galbraith‟s (2002) citing Aneke (2000) state that people are poverty slicken when their income even if adequate for survival, fall markedly below those of the commodity they cannot have what the larger community regards.

Another school of thought structural approach linked poverty to both economic variables.

AneLe (2000) argues that:

“If we focus on income alone, we are likely to gloss over other equally important aspects of deprivations, these includes powerlessness, cultural deprivation, lack of influence, lack of prestige and lack of self esteem‟‟ (Anele, 2000:12).

This argument corroborated with Broomley and Gerry (1979). When they assert that poverty emanates from a present and or past process of improvement by which resources, opportunities and economic surplus have been substantially removed from people who are currently poor and or from their for bearer.

In the same vein, Ankpo (1995) posit that the phenomenon of poverty can be understood as a process linked to democratic decision making. It is through decision making process that some people are privileged to decide for others hence the will of the non slammed on the majority and its manifestation is what has been referred to as poverty. From the two perspectives of these scholars it is obvious to regard poverty as not linked to economic deprivation, but also of inequality and marginalization in all spheres of life. However poverty in the Nigeria context could be understood to means the prevalence of falling standard of living alienation of the masses from decision making that affects them, alienation from ownership of means of production and moral bankruptcy, resulting from the super imposition of alien culture on the people.

Several reasons have been advanced as the causes of poverty in Nigeria as well as other developing countries as argued by the classical economist and Marxist political economist. The classical economist according to Nnaa (2003) linked poverty to;

„A process of circular cumulative causation in which low income leads to low level of saving which keeps productivity low and which in turn perpetuates low income and its attendance consequence of absolute poverty with inadequate health services, poor education and other social services” it is therefore, conceived as self reinforcing situation in which there are forces and factors which tend to perpetuate a various cycle poverty „(Nnnaa, 2003:20).

On the other hand, the Marxist political economist allocates the causes of poverty in the structure of society, in their conception, the political economist and social structure of society. In their conception, the political economist and social structure of a given society account for the extent and distribution of poverty.

Thus, in a capitalist system like Nigeria where the ruling class established and legitimized an exploitative property system through which they determines the allocation of opportunities, income and health relying on the use of state power their advantage, the degree of its distribution will be higher among the vast majority. In other words, it is understood from, the stand point that the causative factors of poverty is rooted in the social relationship which ensures the control of the productive forces in the country by few individuals who direct state apparatus to intervene on behalf of the ruling class at the expense of the generality of the poor masses.

A look at poverty profile in Nigeria right from 1999-2009 shows that it is on increase as could be seen in the table below

Nigeria poverty level from 199-2009 Year Poverty level %
1999 69.0

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