The man saddled with the responsibility of fighting poverty in Nigeria has told Daily Trust that poverty rate has dropped and that Nigerians are better off. Senior Special Adviser to the President and Coordinator of the National Poverty Eradication Programme Dr. Magnus Kpakol also said the illness of President Umaru Musa Yar'adua does not affect his performance.
He also disagreed that constant power outage and low performance of the economy generally have affected his war against poverty. He said the 6.90 per cent growth rate recorded in the preceding year further confirms that poverty rate is falling.
He said some of the programmes put in place by his office in 2009 including the Cash Transfer Programme (COPE) and the involvement of state governments have helped in the fight against poverty in Nigeria.
Daily Trust had reported that in 1980, 28% of Nigerians were poor; in 1985 the poverty ratio grew to 46% and dropped to 42% in 19992. In 1996, the ratio was 65.6%, in 1990 it was 70% and in 2004 it fell to 54.4%. He said the current poverty rate is less than 50 per cent and that Nigerians are richer.
He said though the actual data is collated by the National Bureau of Statistics which is expected to come up this year.
He said: "The poverty rate has drop because for example if you look at the economy, and look at what happens in say agriculture, you will realise that there is growth in the sector last year and that growth in output means something happened there. If you look across board, you will see that the overall GDP growth rate in the economy grew by about 6%.All of that growth took place in the non-oil sector where you have people getting jobs."
"If we manage to grow and the oil sector accounts for 30% of the economy and if close to 30% of the economy has decline and yet we were able to get 6% growth rate, it means that the other sectors had significant growth rate. So if you take that now and add to the consistency in the economic growth rate that we had since 2000, which help to bring the poverty rate from 70 % in 1999 to 54.4% in 2004,and the momentum continues, then it is not unreasonable to believe that the poverty rate must have dropped more than 4 points between 2004 and 2009."
"If between 1999 and 2004, that is 5 years the poverty rate dropped 16 points, it is not unreasonable to think that in another 5 years, the poverty rate couldn't have dropped more than 4 points. As an economist, doing the back of envelop calculations, I know at the back of my mind that unless we change the yardstick that we use in measurement, the poverty rate will be under 50%."
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