Would things get better? Every election term, Nigeria’s citizens vote in a new set of public office holders, again setting themselves up for the worse. As poverty rates climb higher and the gap between the rich and poor grows wider, one thing is unflinching; Corruption.
Budget fraud, procurement fraud and outright embezzlement in sectors like health, water and education are leading causes of the rise in poverty rates in Nigeria.
A policy research report by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) creates a direct link between corruption and poverty. According to the report, most cases of poverty occur when individuals are “denied access to safe, decent and healthy living”.
The 61-page report titled; ‘The ignored pandemic: How corruption in The Health, Education and Water Sectors Is Plunging Nigerians Further Into Poverty’, shared that over 27, million Nigerians live below poverty levels of which 57.3% are youths between 18 – 35 live in poor neighbourhoods with very little access to water, education or healthcare.
According to SERAP, despite the government’s existing poverty alleviation programmes, only 4.20% (2,357,940) of the nation’s population living under poverty lines have directly benefitted from these programmes in the past year.
A Breakdown Of Citizen’s Access To Clean Water And Medical Facilities
The report showed that only a meagre percentage of Nigeria’s citizens have access to well-treated water and adequate healthcare despite having functional sectors with budget allocations yearly.
More than 10,626,673 (23.96%) of people living within poverty levels get water from streams and rivers rather than treated sources.
Up to 50.14% which is 22,237,953 people rely on personal wells and boreholes.
5.2% (19,088,083) of people living in poverty have been denied access to medical treatment in the past year.
52% (1,518,064) of people living in poverty in Nigeria have turned away because of the inability to pay for medical treatments.
A Breakdown Of Income And Poverty Rates In Nigeria
48.90% of people living in poverty, that is, more than 27,453,154 (twenty-seven million, four hundred and fifty-three thousand, one hundred and fifty-four) earn less than N100, 000 per annum.
Only 27.9% which is 15,663,456 (fifteen million, six hundred and sixty-three thousand, four hundred and fifty-six) earn between N100, 000 and N200, 000 per annum.
10.70% earn between N201, 000 and N300, 000 per annum while 12.50% earn more than N300,000 per annum.
The report also showed that 65% of people in poor neighbourhoods live in either one-bedroom or two-bedroom accommodation. Up to 4% of people living below or within poverty levels, that is, about 2,245,657 (two million, two hundred and forty-five thousand, six hundred and fifty-seven) are physically disabled.
To buttress the idea that people are victims and not perpetrators of corruption, SERAP shared that persons living under poverty levels are conditioned to accept poor services as “being good enough”.
What Can Be Done?
To combat poverty in Nigeria, corruption must be tackled especially in sectors that offer basic amenities to the citizens of the country. SERAP’s report is aimed at pointing stakeholders and policymakers to the damage of corruption and hopefully improve access to basic amenities for the citizens of Nigeria.
SERAP also implores the presidency “to promptly propose an executive bill to amend the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) to recognize Nigerians’ socio-economic rights, including the rights to an adequate standard of living, education, quality healthcare, and clean water as legally enforceable human rights.