POVERTY is one of the greatest
problems facing Nigeria
like many other developing
countries of the world.
According to report, Nigeria’s
poverty level has reached an
alarming rate where about70
per cent of its population live
below poverty line and thus
made the country to rank 20th
poorest countries in the world
despite its abundant natural
resources.
Records have also shown
that out of about 168million
population in 2011, 71million
of them were living in relative
poverty.
Another report by the World
Bank global poverty ranked
Nigeria among the five poorest
countries in the world. It
revealed that the country had
one of the largest concentrations
of poor people while most of its
citizens lived on less than one
dollar per day.
The report further stated that
seven per cent of the world
poor lives in Nigeria in spite
of the rebasing of the country’s
Gross Domestic Product, GDP
that ranked it as the largest
economy in Africa.
National Bureau of Statistics,
NBS confirmed that a staggering
112.519 million Nigerians live
in relative poverty conditions.
It said this figure represents 69
per cent of the country’s total
population.
More worrisome is the fact
that the poverty rate is rising
at a time the Gross Domestic
Product, GDP growth rate is
put at 7.75 per cent.
Though poverty reduction
is one of the most difficult
challenges facing the
developing countries of the
world, Nigeria in particular,
President Muhammadu Buhari
has begun efforts to millions
of Nigerians out of poverty in
fulfillment of his electioneering
campaigns.
Good enough, the National
Assembly, especially the
Senate is giving boost to these
efforts. The Senate has passed National Poverty Eradication
Bill. The Bill seeking to establish
a National Poverty Eradication
Commission has been read for
the third time and passed by the
Senate on Thursday, November
17, 2016. The Bill was read for
the second time in April 2016
and referred to its Committees on
Poverty Alleviation and National
Planning.
Presenting the report of the
Committees, Senator Rabiu
Musa Kwankwaso (APC Kano
Central) mentioned that the Bill
was apt as it would provide a
legal and regulatory framework
for government policies and
programmes aimed at eradicating
poverty in the country.
The lawmaker, who was the
immediate governor of Kano
State, also blamed the failure
of some past policies and
programmes such as the National
Poverty Eradication Programme,
NAPEP; and Subsidy Reinvestment
and Empowerment
Programme, SURE-P on the
absence of a legal and regulatory
framework.
He stated that the bill would
strengthen the execution of
poverty eradication programmes
in Nigeria.
According to him, some
of the proposed functions of
the Commission include: To
coordinate and monitor all
poverty eradication activities; Coordinate, monitor and advise
on all social protection activities of
Government; Assist in formulating
and reviewing policies on poverty
eradication; Provide technical
expertise to and sensitize all levels
of government and organizations
on poverty eradication issues; and
Evaluate and monitor the level of
social amenities throughout the
country with direct impact on the
poor among others.
The Senate President, Dr.
Abubakar Bukola Saraki
(APC Kwara Central), while
commenting on the Bill,
emphasized that poverty
eradication is a responsibility of
government and establishing the
Commission was the right step to
eradicating poverty in all parts of
the country.
Leading debate on the Bill
when it passed second reading
on Thursday April 21, its sponsor,
Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC
Sokoto East) explained that there
was need to create the commission
to coordinate and monitor all activities relating to poverty
eradication in the country. He
said the establishment of the
commission has become necessary
in view of the increasing level of
poverty among Nigerians.
The lawmaker further stressed
that the commission would
among other things help curb
the effect of poverty among
Nigerians through outreach with
international donor organisations.
“The bill seeks to establish a
poverty eradication commission
as a statutory body to coordinate
and monitor all poverty activities
in Nigeria. It is also to maintain
an outreach with international
donor organisations and
quarterly inform Nigerians of the
percentage of poverty reduction
or increase as the case may be’’,
Senator Gobir said.
Deputy Senate President,
Ike Ekweremadu called for an
improved tax regime to help the
poor, adding that in West Africa,
Nigeria has the lowest value
added tax, VAT regime. He said “It appears that the gap between
the rich and poor is high and
unacceptable. We must flow the
example of other democracies,
especially in Europe where
the tax regime is an average of
about 40 percent”.
Ekweremadu continued:
“That is a fair way of the rich
helping the poor because we
have to at all times be our
brothers’ keeper. And one way
to do that is through taxation.
We must find a way of taxing
luxury goods to generate
income to fund this commission
and redistribute wealth and
resources”.
Also commenting, Deputy
Leader of the Senate, Senator
Bala ibn Na’Allah commended
Senator Gobir for introducing
the bill when he expressed
concern that there had not
been a defined method of
dealing with the problem of
unemployment in the country.
He said it is a known fact that
government cannot employ
70 per cent of the Nigerian
population adding that the
private sector is what generates
employment but there is no
conducive environment for our
industries.
Senator Barnabas Gemade
(APC Benue North East)
lamenting that in spite of efforts
to eradicate poverty through
the creation of NAPEP many
Nigerians were wallowing
in abject poverty. He further
decried that the programme
had not contributed to giving
an average Nigerian a means of
livelihood.
“The new government this
during election that it will
deal with the issue of the
down trodden during election
campaign and this has been
captured in the 2015 Budget,
with N500 billion allocated to
social welfare.
“However, there are no
details on how this policy
will be implemented. This bill
is therefore timely because
it will help to come up with
a framework on how to
implement the money”, he said.
Also, Senator Jibrin Barau
(APC Kano North) said the
level of poverty in the country
posed threat to security and
peaceful coexistence and they
should do everything in their
power to curb it.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

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