NIGERIA: In a new report by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), it has been established that about 43 million Nigerians earn N200,000 or less annually.
This, according to SERAP, was a result of what it described as widespread and systemic corruption in government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which is making Nigerians poorer.
The report which is titled, “The Ignored Pandemic: How corruption in the health, education and water sectors is plunging Nigerians further into poverty” discovered that budget fraud, procurement fraud, embezzlement of funds among other infractions affect education, water and health service delivery.
According to the report, “48.90 per cent of people living in poverty, more than 27,453,154 earned less than 100 thousand Naira per annum. 27.9 per cent, more than 15,663,456 earned between 100 and 200 thousand Naira per annum”.
Further investigation, however, reveals that 61 per cent of people living in poor areas have no formal/senior secondary education; 57.30 per cent of people in such neighbourhoods were youths between 18 and 35 years old.
It is also revealed that the majority of the 36 states have no documented policies for helping people living in poverty or people earning low income to have access to health, education and water.
The 61-page report which was launched at the Radisson Blu Hotel Ikeja, Lagos, said corruption contributes to the poverty and consequential suffering of people living in poor neighbourhoods.
SERAP in the report admonished President Muhammadu Buhari to propose an executive bill to amend the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to recognize Nigerians’ socio-economic rights, including the rights to the quality standard of living.
The report also called for the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which allows persons whose socio-economic rights are violated to access accountability mechanisms
Other statistics in the report shows that about 10.70 per cent earned between 201 and 300 thousand Naira per annum; 12.50 per cent earned more than 300 Naira per annum.
Also, 65 per cent of people living in poor neighbourhoods stayed in either one-bedroom or two-bedroom accommodation; up to 40 per cent of people living in poverty, about 2,245,657 have physical disabilities.
Only 19 per cent of people living in poor neighbourhoods get water from governmental providers. 23.96 per cent, more than 10,626,673 people living in poverty, got water from streams or rivers; 10.51 per cent got water from neighbours’ houses, and 1.54 per cent received water from other sources.
The assessment covered the six geopolitical zones of the country and relied on data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for its report.
The States with the highest and lowest population of people living in poverty were selected from each geopolitical zone.
Call to Action
The SERAP report urged the Buhari administration to publish the criteria for eligibility for the National Social Register of Poor and Vulnerable Households, cash transfers and similar social programmes.
The President was asked to increase investment in public health, education services, clean water and others for the benefit of the majority of the population.
The budgetary allocations to renovate the National Assembly complex should be redirected to vulnerable citizens including women, children, persons with disabilities, and the elderly, the report suggested.
“The leadership of the National Assembly should ensure that the relevant parliamentary committees collaborate to initiate independent public enquiries and fact-finding on how public funds have been spent on education, healthcare and water since the return of democracy in 1999″, it recommended.
The report demanded that the NASS release reports of investigations into allegations of corruption in MDAs and tasked relevant agencies to carry out further probes and prosecution.