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Press zooms in on Nigeria’s 2022 poverty reduction target, others

The World Bank Group report that states that the estimated per capita income growth of 0.7 per cent for Nigeria…

The World Bank Group report that states that the estimated per capita income growth of 0.7 per cent for Nigeria and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022 is insufficient to meet the challenging goals of poverty reduction and shared prosperity in the medium to long term is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Monday.The Punch reports that the World Bank Group has said that the estimated per capita income growth of 0.7 per cent for Nigeria and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022 is insufficient to meet the challenging goals of poverty reduction and shared prosperity in the medium to long term.

In its new report titled “Africa’s Pulse: An analysis of issues shaping Africa’s economic future,” the Washington-based bank said that poverty reduction trends, which were already derailed by the pandemic, had slowed further.

According to the report, the pandemic has induced a lasting impact on long-term growth, affecting particularly the poorest people and increasing extreme poverty.

It added that the weak rebound of the Nigerian economy in the aftermath of the pandemic along with the setback from rising inflation was insufficient to undo pandemic-induced job and income losses.

The report partly read, “Rising inflation is weighing on economic activity in Sub-Sahara. The upward trend in inflation following the post-pandemic period was exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, soaring to record highs in many countries.

The escalation of the war has fueled a rise in commodity prices, particularly food and energy prices. High pass-through of food and fuel prices to consumer prices has caused headline inflation to spike.”

The World Bank also said rising inflation is weighing on economic activity in Nigeria, and that the upward trend in inflation following the post-pandemic period was exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

The report read further, “The escalation of the war has fueled a rise in commodity prices, particularly food and energy prices. High pass-through of food and fuel prices to consumer prices has caused headline inflation to spike.

The fiscal space to mount effective responses today is gone because of high levels of debt across Sub-Saharan African countries, rising borrowing costs, and depleted public savings.”

The report follows an earlier publication by the Bank titled “A Better Future for All Nigerians: Nigeria Poverty Assessment 2022,” in which it noted that deep structural reforms guided by evidence are urgently needed to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

It added that sluggish growth, low human capital, labor market weaknesses, and exposure to shocks are holding Nigeria’s poverty reduction back.

According to the report, which brings together the latest evidence on the profile and drivers of poverty in Nigeria, as many as four in 10 Nigerians live below the national poverty line.

The newspaper says that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, on Sunday visited one of the Internally Displaced Persons camps in Benue State to celebrate Christmas with displaced persons.

Obi, who visited the Abagana IDP camp located along Makurdi/Laafia road, regretted the continuous stay of Nigerians in IDP camps across the country.

The former governor of Anambra State donated N3m to the IDPs saying, “I decided that today, I will be in Kogi and Benue to celebrate with people in IDP camps. Nigerians should not be living in the camps in their country.

“So I am appealing to the Federal Government, whatever it takes to ensure Nigerians don’t live as refugees in their country must be done.

“I assure you that the next government, as we progress, will ensure that this does not continue. Today, we are here just to tell you to remain faithful, remain prayerful, and keep all your hope in God.

“What you are passing through is what Nigeria is passing through. What affects you affects everyone in Nigeria. We cannot say we are doing well when you are here.

“I assure you that the next government, as we progress, will ensure that this does not continue. Today, we are here just to tell you to remain faithful, remain prayerful, and keep all your hope in God.

“What you are passing through is what Nigeria is passing through. What affects you affects everyone in Nigeria. We cannot say we are doing well when you are here.

 “As long as you remain here, Nigeria is not doing well. It is when you leave and you are in your homes, farming and doing what you are supposed to do to help Nigeria become productive that we will be proud to say we are Nigerians.

The Punch also reports that the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress on Sunday clashed over allegations by the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah, that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) failed to fulfil his 2015 electoral promises.

While the PDP backed the cleric, saying his assessment of Buhari’s regime was on point, the APC berated the Christian leader’s statement as ungodly and biased.

In his Christmas message at St. Mary Catholic Church, Sokoto, titled, ‘Let us turn a new leaf,’ on Sunday, Kukah said Buhari would leaving office in good health, noting, however, that Nigerian were in pain on account of his failure to fulfil his promises to fix the country.

Kukha, who had attacked Buhari several times on his policies and inability to tackle corruption, cited nepotism as a major factor that characterized his regime.

The priest, however, commended the President’s efforts in the area of infrastructure, where he acknowledged there has been a measurable improvement in the landscape, especially in the area of roads.

Speaking against the backdrop of Buhari’s several trips to a United Kingdom hospital for medical treatment, the cleric noted, ‘’I speak for myself and Nigerians when I say, we thank God that He mercifully restored you to good health.

‘’We know that you are healthier now than you were before. We can see it in the spring in your steps, the thousands of miles you have continued to cover as you travel abroad. May God give you more years of good health.

‘’However, I also wish that millions of our citizens had a chance to enjoy just a fraction of your own health by a measurable improvement in the quality of health care in our country.

‘’It is sad that despite your lofty promises, you are leaving us far more vulnerable than when you came, that the corruption we thought would be fought has become a leviathan and sadly, a consequence of a government marked by nepotism.

‘’In my Christmas message last year, I pointed out the fact that you had breached the Constitution by your failure to honour and adhere to the federal character provisions of our Constitution. The evidence is all before us all.”

The Guardian says that the rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over “the failure to thoroughly, effectively and transparently investigate spending on all social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects executed between 2015 and 2022.”

Joined in the suit as Respondent is the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

A recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows damning revelations that some 133 million Nigerians are poor, despite the government reportedly spending N500 billion yearly on ‘social investment programmes.’ Half of all poor people in the country are children.

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/2357/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to thoroughly and transparently investigate the spending on all social safety nets and poverty alleviation programs and projects executed between 2015 and 2022.”

SERAP is also asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to ensure that suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of public funds meant to take care of the poor face prosecution, as appropriate, and any stolen public funds are recovered.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that “Nigerians have the right to be free from poverty. Allegations of corruption in social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes pose both direct and indirect threats to human rights, and contribute to extreme poverty in the country.”

SERAP is also arguing that “Investigating the allegations of corruption in the spending on social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects and recovering any stolen public funds would serve the public interest.”

According to SERAP, “The Federal Government has a legal responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in how public funds are spent, to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.”

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