President Muhammadu Buhari says the number of poor people in the country is expected to triple as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement on Wednesday, presidential spokeswoman Femi Adesina said Buhari revealed this in a recorded video message to the United Nations virtual high-level meeting on trends, options and strategies for eradicating poverty around the world.
The 2019 Nigeria poverty and inequality report released by the National Bureau of statistics in may showed that 82.9 million Nigerians live in poverty.
Speaking about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Buhari said that in Nigeria, as in many other countries, domestic supply chains and trade corridors were under huge strain, bringing to the fore the debate about the relationship between health and the economy.
The President expressed concern that more than 700 million people, or 10 percent of the world’s population, are classified as living in extreme poverty, adding that with a population of about 200 million, a large percentage of Nigerians live in various categories of poverty.
” All the while, they are struggling with the most basic needs, such as food, housing, health, education, and access to clean water and sanitation,” Buhari was quoted as saying.
“Under these conditions, the number of poor people is estimated to triple, as livelihoods in almost all sectors of the economy have been negatively affected.”
The President added that the prospect of a further slide of the population into extreme poverty is real, but assured that his government is also striving to reverse this trend.
The President said that the newly developed economic sustainability plan, aimed at boosting the economy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, would extend protection to very poor Nigerians and other vulnerable groups through Pro-poor spending.
“I am convinced that focusing our efforts on developing human capital, managing our resources effectively, expanding access to financial services, and transforming the agricultural sector to ensure food security is critical to eradicating poverty,” he said.
“In this regard, Nigeria has continued to strengthen its existing initiative to create a social protection network, expanding access enrol that fit into the various programs of the system.
“Nigeria will also continue to provide easier and broader access to financial services for micro and small businesses through the government’s enterprise development and empowerment program. But we are determined to do more.
“Nigeria is of the view that education is an essential factor for sustainable development and has great potential for poverty eradication.
“The education of our children, especially girls, makes a significant contribution to the fight against poverty, environmental sustainability and improved health, as well as to building peace and viable societies.”