The Gap

Poverty in Nigeria: Causes, effects and how to tackle it

Poverty in Nigeria: Causes, effects and how to tackle it

It’s no longer news that Nigeria has a high rate of poverty. In fact, Nigeria overtook India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million people living under the poverty line (a dollar per day) in 2018. Situations have improved as World Poverty Clock (WPC) reported an update that India has reclaimed the highest poverty rate mantle with 83 million people living in extreme poverty as against Nigeria’s 70 million.

Notwithstanding, poverty is still an epidemic in Nigeria, especially now that the country is not benefitting from the recent global oil boom. This piece shall examine the causes, effects, and more about poverty in Nigeria.

What is poverty in Nigeria?

Poverty in Nigeria refers to Nigerians living below the national poverty line of $1.25 per day. Nigeria depends heavily on revenues from crude oil exports which have been severely disrupted due to oil theft. Hence, there are few resources to alleviate the economic situation in the country and stop or at least reduce poverty.

Many Nigerians are finding it difficult to cope due to the bad economy, plunging some below the poverty line.

Causes of poverty in Nigeria

Causes of poverty in Nigeria

Below are 10 main causes of poverty in Nigeria:

1. Corruption

The Igbo adage says, “when an abomination continues to fester, it becomes a tradition.” Corruption is a tradition that has been allowed to fester in Nigeria. From independence to the present administration, the Nigerian government has been associated with corruption. The citizens are also corrupt as they are the ones who make up the government. People in various are allowed to do as they like and loot the nation’s resources with no accountability. These resources are meant to care for Nigerians and build infrastructures to benefit all. Since the people with access to these funds are allowed to get away with looting, it affects Nigerians in general, plunging some into poverty

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2. Lack of diversified economy

Nigeria depends on crude oil for revenue. Before the oil boom of the 1970s, the country enjoyed a diversified economy in agriculture and other natural resources. But when oil was discovered, other sectors of the economy were more or less abandoned. Then crude oil prices began to fall in 2016, plunging the nation into an economic crisis, and it hasn’t been able to recover from it.

3. Lack of education

According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), about 10.5 million Nigerian children aged 5-14 years are not in school even though primary education is officially free. Education opens doors to opportunities. With proper education, one is equipped enough to be employed or have access to funds to start a business. Unfortunately, many Nigerians do not have access to quality education to make them eligible for job or business opportunities.,

4. Unemployment

Nigeria’s economy is in shambles. Businesses are shutting down, companies are moving to more profitable neighboring countries, and the civil service is filled to the brim with workers. The employment opportunities in the country are low. Hence, university graduates, even Ph.D. holders, are forced to sit at home with no jobs.

5. Lack of family planning

Many Nigerians are still ignorant about family planning. Some believe that since children are gifts from God, it’s their right to keep producing them with no reasonable source of income to take care of their children. Their own is to give birth and leave the rest to God. Who knows, one of the children will become the president of Nigeria and take the rest of the family out of poverty. Also, many who are aware of family planning methods are scared to take them because of the misguided superstition surrounding them.

6. Laziness

Many Nigerians are lazy, preferring to look up to their creator to provide everything for them. Little wonder, churches and other religious institutions are thriving in the country. Some would prefer to spend all day in church kabashing and rebuking their enemies by fire than actually going out there to find work. They don’t understand that even the Bible they carry about has said that he who does not work should definitely not eat.

7. Political instability

It’s election season in Nigeria. Already, there are political tensions in various parts of the country ahead of the 2023 general elections. Politicians are in their element, with the mean ones using the opportunity to incite their followers to violence against their perceived enemies. The result is nowhere is safe; people are afraid to step out of their houses, and the economy has run completely down. Take a look at what is happening in the South-East with the Monday sit-at-homes.

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8. Poor medical care and facilities

When a nation has no effective medical facilities, the populace is affected based on productivity. Nigeria’s medical facilities are nothing to write about. Many doctors and other health care practitioners are leaving the country for greener pastures. Those who remain are overworked with little pay and compensation. Most healthcare facilities are underequipped; thus, many people with health problems can’t get adequate treatment. This affects their productivity which gives them a straight ticket to poverty.

9. Unfair distribution of wealth

When we talk about corruption, we also talk about the unfair distribution of wealth. Many Nigerians, especially the poor ones, are often sidelined when it comes to enjoying the country’s many resources. Many have died because they have no access to quality education, medical care, food, and other basic necessities of life.

10. Insecurity

The farmers-herders clash in the North has affected the agricultural sector in the country. In the South-East, unknown gunmen, protests, and other forms of instability have halted economic activities in the region. Banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, etc, are the insecurity problems the country is facing. People can’t go out in peace. Everyone is afraid. Hence, the economy is dying while more people are joining the poverty statistics.

Effects of poverty in Nigeria

almajiri children begging in the streets

  • Poor health. The life expectancy of an average Nigerian is low due to a lack of access to quality food and health care.
  • Violence. A hungry man is an angry man.
  • High crime rate as witnessed in the increased cases of kidnapping, banditry etc, in recent times.
  • Lack of faith in the system which can give rise to anarchy in Nigeria.
  • Homelessness
  • Sexual abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Child labour
  • Mental illness

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How to tackle poverty in Nigeria

pupils learning in school

  • High-quality education for children and adults. Schools should be well equipped, qualified teachers should be employed, and there should be an improvement in the school curriculum to fit into the current standards of job and career opportunities.
  • Diversify the economy so that there will be various streams of income coming into the country, which will boost the economy, attract investors and increase employment rates and productivity.
  • Embrace technology. We’re in the 21st century, the internet age. There’s no reason to still be stuck in the technology of the 60s and 70s.
  • Invest heavily in healthcare so that people can have access to adequate treatment to recover from illnesses and make them stronger and healthier.
  • Embrace gender equality. More girls should be allowed to go to school, and women should be financially empowered. This will boost the economy with their knowledge and productivity.
  • Fight against corruption. People in various positions should be held accountable for their actions.
  • Develop infrastructures. Providing reliable power, a rail network, good roads, pipe-borne water, and mass housing projects, among others, will stimulate economic activity and empower more Nigerians.
  • Equal distribution of wealth. No ethnic group or any group at all should be marginalized in terms of distributing the nation’s wealth.

Poverty statistics in Nigeria

Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in collaboration with the World Bank, revealed that as many as 4 in 10 Nigerians live below the national poverty line. The report also adds that only 17% of Nigerian workers hold wage jobs that can lift people out of poverty.

In 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari claimed that his government lifted 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty between 2019 and 2021. However, a report from the World Bank, revealed that 47.3% of Nigerians, or 98 million people, live in multidimensional poverty, most of whom are located in the North.


The federal government should declare a state of emergency on poverty in Nigeria. More efforts should be made to eradicate this problem which has eaten deep into Nigerian society. Children should be sent to school. Infrastructures should be built to encourage investors to return to the country. Youths and women should be empowered. Poverty will not be eliminated overnight, but it will if consistent measures are implemented. After all, a journey of a thousand miles usually starts with a step.

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Nonye is a Thespian, screenwriter, creative writer and an unapologetic lover of books, great movies and sports. She has over 10 years experience in content writing on entertainment, movies, sports and lifestyle. Nonye is currently a content writer at Blackdot Media and founder of
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