FORMER Anambra State Governor Peter Obi said Nigerians were getting poorer due to misplaced economic priorities of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.
The 2019 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) vice presidential candidate said that the Buhari’s administration was borrowing for consumption instead of production.
He argued that while it was not a crime to borrow money, the funds must be used solely for production that would enhance the lives of the citizens and enrich the economy.
According to him, the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would not be growing while the people were getting poorer.
“Are you borrowing for productivity or are you borrowing for consumption? My worry here is that we are borrowing for consumption.
“I am saying that the country is not productive and there is nothing wrong in borrowing. If you are borrowing, then it shouldn’t be for consumption and that’s why more and more people are getting poorer,” he said.
Rather than relying on speculative growth in the media, the ace businessman said that the growth Nigeria needed was the one that would pull people out of poverty by making them have disposable income and be able to feed themselves.
Statistics from the shows that 105 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty in Nigeria. The number accounts for 51 per cent of the country population of more than 210 million, the World Poverty Clock said in 2020.
In its latest report, the World Bank noted that high inflation rate in Nigeria was worsening poverty and depressing business activities.
The bank said an estimated seven million Nigerians were pushed into poverty in 2020 due to rising prices alone.
According to the report, high inflation frustrated economic recovery and eroded households’ purchasing power, increasing both the poverty rate and the number of people living below the poverty line.
Inflation was 17.38 per cent in July 2021, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The World Bank said the inflationary pressure was tied to unfavourable weather, insecurity and conflict in food-producing areas, COVID-19 pandemic, trade restrictions, border closure, foreign currency restrictions, and Nigeria’s exchange rate management.
“The impact of higher inflation is severe. In 2020, rising prices alone — even without incorporating the direct impacts of COVID-19 on welfare — may have pushed an estimated 7 million Nigerians into poverty,” the report had said in part.
“In 2020, Nigeria’s inflation rate was the seventh highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, but by the end of 2021, it is expected to rise to fifth highest, behind only Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Sudan, and Angola.
“Inflationary pressures are expected to persist for the next six months, and for 2021, inflation is expected to exceed 16 percent.
“In 2021 elevated inflation rates are expected to further exacerbate poverty and dampen growth. High inflation is expected to frustrate Nigeria’s economic recovery and erode the purchasing power of households, which will increase both the poverty rate and the number of people living below the poverty line.”
Unemployment was 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, making it one of the highest in Africa.
During the country’s Democracy Day commemoration in June, President Buhari said his administration was strongly committed to lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
However, analysts do not see that happening due to poor policy coordination and exhibition of incompetence by his administrators at various levels.