The Presidency has reacted to the African Development Bank, ADB’sreport indicating that Nigeria’s poverty rate has increased from 65.5 per cent in 1996 to 69.0 per cent in 2010.
The special adviser to the President on media and publicity, ReubenAbati, told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, that the report was “suspicious, devoid of truth and political”
He said it was inconceivable that ADB’s report came barely a month after it was noted by the UN at the 38th session of the Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, in Rome, that the country had recorded significant reduction in poverty and hunger.
In its most recent annual report of the bank, titled African Economic Outlook, the AfDB had said that “The proportion of people living below the national poverty line in Nigeria has worsened.”
The bank’s report also doubts that the federal government is able to reduce poverty rate by 2015, as it describes present efforts as seemingly weak.
“Nigeria’s prospect of halving poverty by 2015 seems weak. Poverty is higher in rural areas at 73.2 per cent than in urban area at 61.8 per cent,” it said.
The report also noted that the rate of poverty varied significantly between the urban and rural citizens and among the geographical zones, adding that 66 per cent of the rural population lives below poverty line of one dollar per day.
“Malnutrition is widespread,” it said, “Rural areas and disadvantaged groups are particularly vulnerable to chronic food shortage and unbalanced nutrition,” it added.
The ADB report also mentioned that as at 2011 unemployment rate was at 24 per cent compared to 21 per cent in 2010, adding that the rate was high among the age bracket of between 15 and 24, and 25 to 44, at 38 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively.
It said that according to the National Bureau of Statistics, an average of 1.8 million people join the labour market every year over the past five years, with a projection that that number would grow from three million in 2012 to about 8.5 million in 2015.
The bank recommends that efforts to tackle poverty and unemployment in the country must be doubled to ensure effective engagement of the youth for economic growth and development.