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1.1 Background of the Study
Many people when they hear or read about the word poverty will automatically think and look at poverty as being simply a lack of money. This is partly true but for a better understanding of poverty it is necessary to go beyond this simple or common sense, definition of poverty. Poverty is much more than a simple lack of money. For example, if you were stranded on a desert island and you had several thousand dollars or pounds in cash, while those around you had things like food, clothing and shelter would be in poverty? You could not eat your money, nor could. Your fellow inhabitants might not even want your money, particularly if they believe that a rescue is not eminent. In such a situation, lack of money means equal poverty. This is, however, only part of the story with regard to poverty yet in order to understand poverty and inequality, we must probe beneath surface reality and go beyond the common sense explanation which is simply another for cliché.
Definitions of Poverty
There are two different ways in which researchers define poverty; Absolute poverty and relative poverty.
Absolute poverty refers to the situation in which a person lacks those things that help to sustain human life. The lack of basic human needs such as food, shelter and clothing. This form of poverty was once quite common in countries such as Britain and American but has since declined, particularly since the introduction of the welfare state. This form of poverty is still prevalent in many third world countries.
Relative poverty refers to the situation in which a person lacks the necessary resources to enable them to participate in the normal and desirable pattern of life that exist within a given society at a given time. For example, if you cannot afford to have a cooked meal then you may not be in absolute poverty but you are certainly in relative poverty.
Poverty is not new but at each mention, it stirs a lot of misgiving. This is because it has a very devastating influence on its victims. It reduces the social and psychological prestige of its victims. Poverty is a condition of being poor. This could be evident even amidst plenty because there could be reeking poverty as a result of lack of knowledge to translate potentiality into practical creativity for the benefit of society.
In other words, if there is a poverty of something, it therefore means that there is a lack of it or the quality of it is extremely low. The foregoing shows the picture of our beloved country, especially when a deep reflection is made on the Nigerian question and the Nigerian condition. It is also so pathetic in the sense that the country that is potentially rich in oil and gas and other natural resources cannot boast of putting food on the tables of its citizens in fact an average Nigeria is said to be living below one dollar. Researcher has it that the foundation of most social vices and corrupt practices both in high and low places is caused by poverty. At present, Nigeria is rated as one of the poorest country of the world, a country with abundant resources both in human and mineral resources. It is as a result of this and other maladies that are experienced by the citizens of the world especially the third world countries that the United Nations in year 2000 in a meeting popularly referred to as millennium summit in the United State of America, arrived at the millennium development goals, (MDGs). According to UN the 189 members of this organization by 2015 are supposed to have met these goals. The nine goals have the “reduction of extreme poverty and hunger” as the first goal to be met by the stipulated year.
As a member of the United Nations Nigeria keyed into the MDGs and subsequently produce a policy document called the national economic empowerment and development strategy (NEEDs). This development goals specifically has the following actionable goals. Wealth Creation Empowerment generation Poverty reduction Valve re-orientation (NEEDs DOCUMENT, 2008)
The NEEDs as a national policy was intended to meeting some of the goals of the MDGs especially poverty reduction. In assessing the performance of MDGs and NEEDS in Nigeria especially when it relates to “poverty reduction” one can say without fears of contradiction that millennium development goals have performed below the expectation of Nigerian. It is at the backdrop of this realization that this paper is set to examine the MDGs and poverty reduction as it geared towards bringing sustainable development in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Over the last ten years poverty has been very real in Nigeria and quality of the average Nigerian citizen has progressively nosedived. It is so endemic in Nigeria that people have started seeing it as part of their lot in life. It is at the backdrop of this that this paper is set to examine the MDGs and poverty reduction as it is geared towards bringing sustainable development in Nigeria.
This study therefore addresses some specific questions as outlined below: What factor is responsible for high level of poverty in Nigeria? What has been the impact of various poverty reduction programmes in Nigeria? Will Nigeria really reduce poverty by 2015 going by the current situation in the country?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of the study is to analyze and evaluate the rate of poverty in Nigeria.
Against this backdrop, the following specific objectives will be address in the study: To identify the factors responsible for poverty in Nigeria To assess how successful the various policies and programmed initiated to reduce poverty in Nigeria. To ascertain the level of whether Nigeria will be able to meet millennium development goals (MDGs) by 2015. To recommend policy response and suggest how to reduce poverty in Nigeria in order to meet MDGS and ensure sustainable development.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The essence of any meaningful research work lies in its significance and usefulness to humanity.
This study will provide a conceptual frame work for comprehending the issue of poverty and also provide a firsthand information to be used by policy makers administrators, social welfare agencies etc. in effort to reduce poverty.
Secondly, it would be valuable to the academia and provoke more or continuants research work and analysis of poverty in or/its effect on human development.
Finally, this work shall provide or suggest reasonable solution that will assist relevant agencies saddled with the responsibility of reduction of poverty as one of the pivot towards achieving the millennium development goals and sustainable development in Nigeria in particular and Africa at large.
1.5 Literature Review
Poverty is the condition that exists when people lacks the ability to satisfy their basic needs. The basic need are those necessities for survival or broadly as those reflecting the revealing standard of living that is, those at the border line of nutrition, housing, clothing among others though adequate to preserve life but do measure up to those of the population as whole (Encyclopedia Britannia 1978, vol. 14).
It is also a state of involuntary deprivation to which a person, household and nations are subjected. This means individuals, household, and nations under scale can be poor, so long as it exhibits the characteristics of poverty source (MVO, 2009:24).
Poverty is also associated with poor health low level of education, low level of calories in one‟s diet, lack of shelter, low level of employment. Furthermore, poverty refers to the inability of an individual or family to secure basic needs even in the midst of social surrounding of general prosperity or lack of some general attribute that would allow an individual to maintain himself. And people that are associated with such behaviors like inability to manage money either by laziness, drunkenness and producing too many can make a nation or an individual to be poor.
The concept of poverty like every other concepts in the social sciences lack a precise definition that can be said to be as patial and that is temporal. If it perhaps this line of thought that informed Aboyade (1975:4) to state that poverty is probably not a subject to be defined or measured to be appreciated, it may have to do with suffering despite this remarks, the search for commonly accepted characteristic of poverty for slicken people continue to gain currency and as several definition of poverty have been pasted by scholars.
In conceptualizing poverty, two schools of thought have emerged. One of the schools is classical economist they conceives poverty as lack of income or material well-being, corroborating this view Arinze (1995) described poverty as “the lack of income needed to acquire the minimum necessities of life.
Galbraith‟s (2002) citing Aneke (2000) state that people are poverty slicken when their income even if adequate for survival, fall markedly below those of the commodity they cannot have what the larger community regards.
Another school of thought structural approach linked poverty to both economic variables.
AneLe (2000) argues that:
“If we focus on income alone, we are likely to gloss over other equally important aspects of deprivations, these includes powerlessness, cultural deprivation, lack of influence, lack of prestige and lack of self esteem‟‟ (Anele, 2000:12).
This argument corroborated with Broomley and Gerry (1979). When they assert that poverty emanates from a present and or past process of improvement by which resources, opportunities and economic surplus have been substantially removed from people who are currently poor and or from their for bearer.
In the same vein, Ankpo (1995) posit that the phenomenon of poverty can be understood as a process linked to democratic decision making. It is through decision making process that some people are privileged to decide for others hence the will of the non slammed on the majority and its manifestation is what has been referred to as poverty. From the two perspectives of these scholars it is obvious to regard poverty as not linked to economic deprivation, but also of inequality and marginalization in all spheres of life. However poverty in the Nigeria context could be understood to means the prevalence of falling standard of living alienation of the masses from decision making that affects them, alienation from ownership of means of production and moral bankruptcy, resulting from the super imposition of alien culture on the people.
Several reasons have been advanced as the causes of poverty in Nigeria as well as other developing countries as argued by the classical economist and Marxist political economist. The classical economist according to Nnaa (2003) linked poverty to;
„A process of circular cumulative causation in which low income leads to low level of saving which keeps productivity low and which in turn perpetuates low income and its attendance consequence of absolute poverty with inadequate health services, poor education and other social services” it is therefore, conceived as self reinforcing situation in which there are forces and factors which tend to perpetuate a various cycle poverty „(Nnnaa, 2003:20).
On the other hand, the Marxist political economist allocates the causes of poverty in the structure of society, in their conception, the political economist and social structure of society. In their conception, the political economist and social structure of a given society account for the extent and distribution of poverty.
Thus, in a capitalist system like Nigeria where the ruling class established and legitimized an exploitative property system through which they determines the allocation of opportunities, income and health relying on the use of state power their advantage, the degree of its distribution will be higher among the vast majority. In other words, it is understood from, the stand point that the causative factors of poverty is rooted in the social relationship which ensures the control of the productive forces in the country by few individuals who direct state apparatus to intervene on behalf of the ruling class at the expense of the generality of the poor masses.
1.6 Theoretical frame work
The theoretical framework that will be adopted for this research work will be Marxist/socialist theory.
The Marxist theory of poverty and inequality is a radical departure from the other theories of poverty. Marxist does not blame the poor for their poverty nor do they blame their culture. Ralph Mill Band write
The basic fact is that the poor are an integral part of the working class. It‟s poorest and most disadvantaged stratum. They need to be seen as such as part of a continuum, the more so as many workers who are not deprived in the official sense live in permanent danger of entering the ranks of the deprived, and that they share many of disadvantages which afflict the deprived.
Instead Marxists look for explanations in the structure of the society in question, in the economic arrangements present and in the functions that poverty performs for capitalism and the capitalist class. To put it simply the reason for poverty and inequality lies in the market based capitalist economy and the fluctuation that all such economies periodically through.
Indeed, Marx argues in his most influential work “Das Capital”, that what takes place in the sphere of exchange is an exchange of equals. But as we will recall, in the example of the ship wreck with the money on the Desert Island, appearance can be very deceptive. On face value it appears that the capitalist buys the labour of the workers, in which case they would pay if Marx is correct, the value of what that labour produces. Thus, if the worker in the course of their labour produces ten chairs at Σ10 each then they would be paid Σ100 for their labour. But that leaves the curious situation in which the profit of the capitalist disappear, something which does not happen often in capitalist society, what the worker is paid for is not their labour which no more belongs to the capitalist after it has been expended than to the worker but the worker labour power, that is, their ability to labour.
The value of labour power approximates to what is necessary to sustain the workers labour power, and its future reproduction through the next generation of workers, as well as enough to purchase certain other things, and participate in certain patterns of life, that have been won over the years by struggle. Here we have the basis of inequality. The exchange between workers and capitalist is not one of equality. The capitalist is surplus value, the difference between the value of the commodities produced by the workers and the wages paid for their labour power from this is derived profit.
Capitalist economies are also market economies. We in Britain having recently endured a decade of thatch rite economics know all too well about the market yet I will explain what is meant to out lucky neighbors who are ignorant of this term. What is basically meant is that supply and demand determines what is made, when it is made and how much is its price. To put it simply, big demand and limited supply equals big price. This same principle also applies to the labour market. Certain types of labour power have a higher exchange-value than others. For example, unskilled manual labour commands the lowest monetary reward, then semi-skilled manual, then skills manual, then routine clerical, then higher clerical, then professions, then higher professions and so on. Because it is a market economy those in the labour market receive differential rewards. It is not unusual now for the directors of big British Companies to earn Σ700.000 a year (not including fringer benefits) while the worker in the factory or shop may get as little as Σ140 a week, compare this to the Σ13,500 a week that the aforementioned company directors get.
It could be said that some get as much bigger share of the pie than others. Those at the top are the capitalist class who get paid dividends for owning the means of production, then come those who manage the assets of the capitalist class (company directors), then come servants!. Those who occupy the bottom runs of this ladder, the unskilled manual laborers and the semi-skilled manual laborers and the semi-skilled manual laborers, tend to be paid less, many of these households live in what might be called relative poverty. Thus, poverty and most certainly inequality derive its part from the unequal distribution of wealth in capitalist society that result from the unimpeded operations of the market.
The capitalist system also causes poverty and inequality because, quite simply, it cannot provide full employment. There has hardly been a time in British history when the capitalist system has allowed for full employment. The sets time that British came in recent times to full employment was in the 1950s. This full employment only came about because of increased state expenditure on such things as armament and the fact that many thousands of men died in the Second World War. This is not to say that a country such as British could not achieve full employment but by doing so it would probably impoverish some other country. For example, when British trade was at its zenith and Britain had its protected colonial markets, countries like India were undeveloped, that is their textile industry was destroyed and replaced by British imports. Since such grand times it has very much been a case of economic decline for Britain and increasing unemployment total was three million, upon which the conservative government
promptly changed the definition of unemployment (about 30 times in all) profit before people.
Capitalism is a system of production in an economy, in which some own the means of production while the vast majority must sell their labour power. The capital classes, those who own the means of production, only take on workers so long as the augment capital, that is, increase their profit. Sometimes there is a loss of confidence, that is, capitalists don‟t think that they can sell a given amount of production. What they cut back on are laborers who are made redundant. As a result the laborers they must fall back upon the “safety not” of the welfare state, which to their dismay they find isn‟t quite too generous as the tabloid journalists tell them. They are out of work for the simple reason that their labour-power does not at present help to increase capital that is, it does not make a profit for the capitalist. There is the machinery, there is the raw material yet because the conditions for the expansion of capital are not present they are not able to work. Anyone who attempts to work by simply going into some factory and proceeding to labour, will soon find out one of the functions of the police, to protect, private property and uphold the interests of the capitalist class Boom and Bust.
So far we have established two reasons for the poverty and inequality that exist within all capitalist societies to a greater or lesser extent. Many people are in poverty simply because their capitalist classes do not desire their services; do not wish to purchase their labour power. Others are in poverty because they happen to be in the receiving end which does not get the same return as that of the lawyer or Doctor despite the fact that they are just as essential. There is, however, yet another reason and it is to be found in the fluctuations of the capitalist economies of the world. All capitalist economies go through period of “boom” and “Bust” or, growth and recession. Sometimes industry will be fired up, the factories will be buzzing and those who are unemployed will be slowly but surely entering the labour market. Then, all of a sudden there will be an economic crash, a sudden grinding halt to trade and thereby to production. Sometimes this will be more severe than others. In Marx time such economic crises were extremely severe and recurrent. The last great economic crash occurred during the 1930‟s and engulfed many capitalist societies. During these economic crises there is often a poverty of over population. This seems like a contradiction in terms but we must remember that the commodities produced in capitalist societies are exchange-values, not just use-values Marx writes:
“The last real cause of all crises always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses as compared to the tendency of capitalist production to develop the productive forces in such a way that only the absolute powers of consumption of the entire society would be their limit”. During these economic crises too much is produced, this is because of the unplanned nature of capitalist production. During such crises those who were employed, what Marxists refer to as the reserve army of labour, are now got rid of, their labour power no longer helps to expand capital, and so we see how these fluctuations help to foster unemployment and thereby poverty.
The last reason given by Marxists for the existence and persistence of poverty, and perhaps the most important, is that poverty performs certain functions. This seems at first like a contradiction, what possible function can poverty play? By function what is meant is simply what poverty does, in particular, what it does for the capitalist class, there are numerous functions that poverty performs all of which help to meet the needs of the capitalist class.
1st function: capitalism requires a highly motivated workforce. Workers must be willing, indeed almost enthusiastic, to get into the factory and work. The reason being that capitalist must compete against capitalist in other countries. Also, if none of the working class came to work for their employers who would do the work, certainly not the capitalist class, by giving different members of society differential monetary rewards to workers who are motivated to work. As a result it is necessary to give those such as the unemployed, elderly and sick ones less money than they received by the workforce as workers would not be motivated to work. Why slog your guts out if you can get the same for sitting at home watching TV? Why worker would choose going to work for perhaps 10 or 12 hours a day when they can get the same reward for sitting at home.
2nd function: the low wage sector which exists to greater or lesser extent in all capitalist economies serves to lower the wage demands on those on paid employment. The working class tends to judge their wages not in terms of how they compare to the capitalist class but how they compare to their poorer co-workers and neighbors‟. Poverty thus helped to keep a check on the wage demands of the working class. Also, if there are large numbers of unemployed people, and even those poorly paid jobs, then there is always plenty of competition for jobs and so employer can pay less. It is after all a market economy and the workers labour power is a commodity just like all others.
3rd Function: those who are in poverty form what Marx called a reserve army of labour. This reserve army of labour which may consist of ethnic minorities and those in the labour force who are least desirable, for whatever labour performs the function of keeping the pretensions of the working class in check during periods of “boom” in the economy. During such times, when demand of labour is high, the reserve army will be called up and so any delusions of grandeur held by the working class are torn asunder. This theory becomes much more important when it is viewed that the gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria are winding day by day. Therefore the above theoretical framework is most appropriate for the study.
This theory becomes relevant when it is understood that various policies and programmes initiated by governments both federal, state and local have been marred by high level of corruption, ineptitude and nepotism it is often understood that most of this programmes end up elevating poverty instead of reducing it. For instance the national poverty eradication programme (NAPEP) has always been hijacked by the operators of the scheme (politicians) it is important to note in Nigeria that corruption has been the barne of our government and governance therefore Nigerians do not trust their leaders has been capable of helping them to come out of poverty 0r to reduce poverty rate in Nigeria by 2015.
1.7 Hypotheses
 Some of the factors responsible for high rate of poverty in Nigeria among others include illiteracy and corruption.
 Some of the policies and programmes initiated (UBE) (NEEDS), child & Maternal health have not been successful.
 It is not likely that Nigeria will meet (MDGs) poverty reduction by 2015.
1.8 Scope and Limitation of Study
This research work is set to examine poverty reduction as one of the millennium development goals and the impact of the various programme sand policies initiated towards achieving sustainable development in Nigeria by the year 2015.
As a matter of fact, lack of accessibility to government confidential materials to serves as a good limitation E.g. National Population Commission (NPC), National Bureau for statistic etc materials are not easily accessed, but efforts were made to get the necessary materials needed for the research though not easy.
Another limitation encountered in this course of study was due to lack of finance and inadequate time.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Millennium Development Goals: Millennium Development goals represent a bold and an ambition attempt to tackle the global development dilemma through a set tangibly quantifiable targets that are at the heart of and critical; to the achievement of sustainable human development which allows people to leave a life that they value and to realize their potential as human beings.
Poverty: It is a state of being poor or being unable to have basic necessities of life.
Poverty Reduction: Generally poverty refers to lack of resources, poverty reduction therefore means destroy or trying to get out of poverty or reducing the rate of poverty.
Sustainable Development: Development is the ability of the state to harness its natural and material resources or endowment for the well being of the citizens.
Sustainable development is a process of attaining growth without compromising the needs of future generation.
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