The federal government yesterday dismissed a recent report rating Nigeria as a country with extremely poor people in the world. Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enalamah, who revealed this after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the presidential villa said the latest Bookings Institute's rating of Nigeria as the headquarters of poverty in the world should not border Nigerians because the report may have been compiled when the nation was in economic recess.
The report had stated that, while India used to hold the first poverty predominance position with a population of 1.324 billion people as against Nigeria's 200 million, Nigeria now has about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared to India's 73 million.
It noted that extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall. But Enalamah said federal government's ongoing investment in infrastructure is creating jobs and wealth for the poor to get out of poverty. He said, "We need to understand when we get these reports that there are reports that are lagging in indicators which means, people are reporting on history. There are reports that are leading indicators, which means that they are forward looking and, of course, there are reports that capture generally what you do which is current. "They are actually dealing with what is current. So, when you get reports from Brooking Institutes or all sorts of people, you need to look at the context. Somebody may have written a report when we were in recession. Remember that if you are in a recession, what it means is that even though your population is growing, people don't stop procreating, which means that in theory, depending on how they run those numbers, you will be going the other way.
"There is absolutely no question that there is an urgency to create employment in Nigeria and it has to be a collective responsibility. What I can tell you, with certainty based on one's background in business and economics, is that if we complete the things on infrastructure and you implement these reports we are doing- that is what I mean by a leading indicator- poverty will go down. There is no magic to it. But you have to do it first. "You have to put in the infrastructure; you have to implement the economic programme which is what will create the opportunities. They don't drop from the sky. So, I think we should roll up our sleeves as a people and do the work because if we don't do it and our people continue to bear children, obviously they would get poorer". The minister further disclosed that FEC approved the sum of N3.172 payment to consultants for the development of zones for effective implementation of Projects Made in Nigeria Exports (MINE).
The zones, according to him, include those in Lagos State, Lekki Free Trade Zone Area, one in Katsina in Funtau Cotton Cluster Zone Area and another one in Abia in Enyimba City, adding that other zones to be developed are in Calabar and Kano. Senior special assistant on media and publicity to the president, Mallam Garba Shehu, also disclosed that Council approved the sum of N133 million for Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to acquire a Computer Based Test (CBT) to take control of its examinations. On his part, Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing, Mustapha Shahuri, also said road projects running into several billions of Naira were approved by the Council.