The Federal Government, yesterday, disclosed that it has entered into a discussion with World Data Lab, publisher of the World Poverty Clock, to undertake a review of Nigeria’s poverty statistics, using realistic tools and indices to determine the country’s correct ranking.
The World Poverty Clock had in June 2018, stated that Nigeria has now become the country with the highest number of extremely poor people, taking over from India, which used to hold the position with a population of 1.324 billion people against Nigeria’s 200 million.
According to the report, the number of Nigerians in extreme poverty increases by six people every minute.
Speaking in Abuja at the Pre-Open Government Partnership Global Summit National Dialogue, organised by African Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Investment, Hajia Maryam Uwais, stated that in it latest ranking on Nigeria, the World Data Lab had used outdated data, mainly from 2012 and 2013.
According to her, due to the set of data used by the organisation, the findings obtained were slightly different from what was currently obtainable in the country.
Uwais explained the organisation had agreed to return to Nigeria to undertake some activities that might lead to a review of the country’s ranking.
She said: “It has been announced for a while that we are the poverty capital of the world. We have had discussions with World Data Lab, the World Poverty Clock people. They want to come back to Nigeria because the data they used was 2012/2013.
“The indicator for them was slightly different from what we consider in Nigeria. They are coming in to do some work in the North-East. It is not about the light that we can see at night; it is not about the cars that people own; it is more not about the life, the living condition, consumption and we are hoping that we have a more updated and realistic picture of what it is.”However, she confirmed that poverty rate in Nigeria was very high, noting that collaboration was needed between the Federal Government and the private sector to tackle the issue.
“This is not to belittle the fact that we do have very high poverty indices. We do, and the only way we can address it, if we all put our hands together and work towards helping everybody. I keep insisting that it is collective effort; it is not something only government can do.
Also speaking, Executive Director of ANEEJ, Mr. David Ugolor, noted that as at December 2018, when ANEEJ carried out field monitoring of the recovered $322.5 million Abacha loot, it observed that about N6 billion had been paid to the poorest of the poor Nigerians.
He explained that the money paid out so far comprised 80 per cent from $322.5 recovered Abacha loot and 20 per cent from Federal Government’s contribution.
Ugolor noted that ANEEJ, along with other civil society partners had worked with over 500 monitors in 11 states, to monitor the disbursement of the $322.5 million recovered Abacha loot for Conditional Cash Transfer Programme.
Speaking in the same vein, former Special Assistant to Pre sident Muhammadu Buhari on Justice reforms, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku, disclosed that the Federal Government, in collaboration with the French and United States governments, were working to return $500 million funds stashed away in their countries within months.
Ibekaku, who said she was part of the negotiating team of the restitution of the funds, which is spearheaded by the Office of Attorney General and the Minister of Justice, said the funds would be returned within months, as the federal government had advanced discussion with the respective countries.
She said: “We are negotiating with these governments on the restitution of $500 million stashed away funds. What is critical today is that the civil societies are strong partners in this process of restitution and disbursement, and also interrogating the government and ensuring that the beneficiaries from Lokoja, Sokoto to Nsukka have a voice.”