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Causes of Poverty in Nigeria-New Approach

Updated on October 23, 2019
Uzochukwu Mike profile image

He is a writer on youths, challenges, engineering, computer and insurance. He is certified by Young African Leaders Initiative on Workforce.


The rate of poverty in Nigeria is on the high side. The youths, mothers, fathers and the children of this country are having taste of this bitter cake called poverty. Some said that they will fight poverty to death if it is to be human that has flesh and blood.

What is the statistics of poverty in Nigeria? Poverty has risen in Nigeria, with almost 100 million people living on less than a $1 (£0.63) a day, despite economic growth, statistics have shown. The National Bureau of Statistics said 60.9% of Nigerians in 2010 were living in "absolute poverty" - this figure had risen from 54.7% in 2004.

Officially, a person is said to be poor when he lives below one dollar in a day. According to Galbraith, people are poverty stricken when their income even if it is inadequate for survival, falls behind the average obtainable in their immediate community (Galbraith 1958).

Tazoacha on the other hand aired his pitiable view on the state of poverty as he wrote, Poverty is the oldest and the most resistant virus that brings about a devastating disease in the third world or developing countries (Tazoacha, 2001), which state of Nigeria is no exception. He further lamented on the menace by saying, “its rate of killing cannot be compared to any disease from the genesis of mankind. It is worse than malaria and HIV/AIDS which are claimed to be the highest killer diseases and even worse than EBOLA” (ibid).

It is a multifaceted concept, which includes social, economic, and political elements. Absolute poverty or destitution refers to the lack of means necessary to meet basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter-Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia, Poverty in Nigeria can be caused by the political instability of the country. However, these programs have largely failed to overcome the three reasons for this persistent poverty: income inequality, ethnic conflict, and political instability. But in this topic, we are going to look into new approach on the causes of poverty in Nigeria.

The economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was not okay as of in 2015-2016. Because of the bad economy, the country is facing hard times which have contributed to the high rate of poverty in the country. In the year 2014 for instance, the GDP of the country was put at 568.5 USD billion. In 2015, the GDP dropped to 481.07 USD billion.

Poverty gap at dollar1.25 a day (PPP) (%) in Nigeria was measured at 33.74 in 2010, according to the World Bank. According to the same source, Poverty headcount ratio at dollar1.25 a day (PPP) (% of population) in Nigeria was measured at 67.98 in the same year 2010.

According to the World Bank data, based on the Poverty headcount ratio at $1.90 per day, 53.5% of the country's population were unemployed in 2003. In the year 2009, the rate still stood at 53.5% base on the same standard (World Bank).

Children affected by poverty. The picture shows Abdu and his little brother Duma who live in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa.
Children affected by poverty. The picture shows Abdu and his little brother Duma who live in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa. | Source

What Causes Poverty in Nigeria?

There are major causes of poverty in the world which affects Nigeria as well. These causes are mentioned by Marcia Amidon Lusted in his book entitled "Poverty". According to him, the major causes of poverty are changing trends in a country’s economy, lack of education, high divorce rate which causes feminization of poverty, having a culture of poverty, overpopulation, epidemic diseases.

But, in this topic, we are looking at the new approach on the causes of poverty in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The causes of poverty in Nigeria base on these new approach are:

  • War;
  • Lack of knowledge;
  • Opportunity underdevelopment;
  • Poor preparation and plan;
  • Inadequate skill possession;
  • Fear of the unknown;
  • Limited number of vocational institutes/schools;
  • Weak governmental support; and
  • Poor saving ability


War is a factor that has resulted to poverty not only to the communities of Nigeria but to the entire world in totality. It has rendered many homeless and others to the state of confusion.

During the Nigerian Civil War, many in the communities lost what they had. They lost their properties, monies and sources of their income. As a result of that, poverty becomes the available option which many are beneficiaries to.

That conflict till today is still keeping some families in poor state. Though some were able to gain their grounds fast immediate after the war but many are still picking their pieces till today.

Lack of Knowledge

Many citizens of Nigeria suffer poverty because they lack knowledge. Knowledge as said is power and who does not have it will not make headway in life. It is only those that have knowledge that know what to do and how to do them well.

In Nigeria, we see many touts who operate in a group. They lack the knowledge that greatness is per head and not a group thing. When others go out for their daily activities to search for something that will sustain them, these group are seen gathered at a joint drinking and smoking at the same time. They fail to understand that there is no food for lazy men.

When one is lazy, he can never be rich in life. The only “degree” for people of this class is living in the state of poverty. Some find themselves among criminal gangs because of the naughty behaviour they portray.

Because they lack in knowledge, they fail to understand that time waits for no man. They grow old in such bad lifestyle. Sometimes, they impregnate the young ladies in the community and the parents of the ladies insist that the naughty young men that conceived the act must marry them.

And the truth is that one cannot give what he does not have. As the women enter the family, that is how the circle of poverty continues to grow. The fathers, wives, and children become poor because the head has nothing to show in sustaining their livings.

Opportunity underdevelopment

What is opportunity underdevelopment? Based on this context, opportunity underdevelopment simply implies the inability of someone or group of people to develop the opportunity offered by the society they find themselves.

Nigeria is known for her good agricultural practice. This is one of the things that the country is known for, but the challenge which continues to hunt these people is how to maximize and utilize that. That the country practices agriculture is one thing but how to make good money from this to keep some of the farmers free from poverty is the more important thing.

There are limited companies that process these agricultural produce for longer use. If there are more of these companies, the farmers will use the opportunity to make more money and live above one US dollar per day.

Due to the fact that there is underdevelopment in the cultivation of foods in the country, we still see people who grow food and are poor at the same time.

Nelson Mandela's quote on poverty
Nelson Mandela's quote on poverty | Source

Poor Preparation and Plan

Anybody that does not prepare his life and activities can be struck by poverty. Is that confusing to you? It is a fact which will be proven under this subheading.

There are people in this country who cannot give their wives money to cook at home for the family to eat but they can enter beer parlour and spend what they suppose to give their family for two weeks in just one day. Such fathers lack the ability to plan. The families die in hunger and starvation, which is poverty, because they were not able to prepare and plan their lives well.

In the other hand, there are married people that do not engage in family planning. In family of this type, the father gives birth to many children which he cannot take good care of. When the little the father brings from the petty business he does is shared among the dozens of children he has, each is found to live far below a dollar in a day. This sometimes pushed the children to indulge in dirty activities like stealing, which in some cases could result to their death.

Inadequate Skill Possession

Days are gone when riches are measured by certificates obtained from the tertiary institution one attended. Today, in Nigeria, what matters so much is what you can do? It also applies in Europe and other continents. It is no longer strictly on whether you have BSc, MSc, or Doctorate Degree. It is not as if they do not count again but skill acquisition matters much as well.

There are many graduates in the community who are not employed. Due to this, they become burdens to their parents. Some of these graduates today are among the poor class because they are not doing any solid works that are capable of giving money to them.

Skill acquisition is the remedy to poverty. When a youth acquire viable skills, he has something to show. But because many young people in the land are without skills, they become visited by the menace of poverty.

Fear of the Unknown

Fear of the unknown as used here is the fear of getting into trouble or one meeting his waterloo after helping any member of the country. Riches are not evenly distributed in any part of the world and one of the ways through which the rich can help bridge the gap is by helping the poor.

But some of the rich are afraid of helping the poor because of the unknown. Some communities in the country are not totally free from fetish practices. That is one of the reasons why those who travelled abroad are afraid to come back to the country. The use of African magic to pull people down is still in existence over here.

Because the rich do not want to help the poor in the community as a result of the fear of the unknown after helping financially to alleviate some of them from poverty, those that have the money decide to keep their money to avoid their own downfall. That is one of the reasons why there is rise in the poverty level of rural communities in the country.

Limited number of Vocational Institutes/Schools

Limited number of vocational education is another factor that has caused poverty in the land. Vocational school is one option for students interested in practical postsecondary education and job training. Vocational schools typically offer relatively short, career-focused programs that quickly prepare graduates for the workforce ( 2016).

Vocational schools are training grounds for people of various ages on diverse skills that will give them money and make poverty in their lives a history. Because there is limited number of such institutes in Nigeria, the people become poor as they lack skills on how to make good money and reduce poverty in the land.

Weak Governmental Support

It is the duty of the government of a state to seek for the welfare of the people it governs. If the government fails to understand and put that into action, there is possibility that the people will suffer from any societal challenge, which poverty is no exception.

At every stipulated time of national, state, local government, and even regional elections, the people of Nigeria do come out in mass to vote the contesting candidates into power. But the question is: are these candidates who are voted into power carrying their functions effectively by seeing to the welfare of the people?

Most of these leaders are heartless and selfish. When they are voted into power to represent the community, they go there for their own pockets. Instead of distributing the resources given to them to deliver to the people, they end up enriching themselves alone. This renders the masses to the state of poverty as their own wealth which supposes to make them rich are being embezzled by “wicked cohort” in the community.

Poor Saving Ability

It is not new to say that some youths of this country lack the ability to save properly towards the rainy days. That has resulted to the ugly visit paid to people of this age-group by poverty. They can enter into bars and spent the whole money they have in one night and go home empty. Instead of them to save the little they have and build themselves for better tomorrow, they score very low in savings.

There are some insurance companies that would have helped them make good savings for three years upward as they cannot make savings on their own. A recent one is the one being run by the most popular bank in the country, First Bank, which is call FBNINSURANCE. Some of them got the information of this kind but did not queue in because they do not want to discipline themselves.

To this effect, we see those who have ordinary savings account finishing what they have in the bank account within a short time. And at that point of finishing, they fall back to poverty line. But if to say they allow insurance establishment to save for them in the sense that they will not have access to the money until the stipulated time, they will gather enough money within some years and use the money to start what will give them much money and be free from the menace of poverty.


  • BBC (2012). Nigerians living in poverty rise to nearly 61%. BBC Publication, retrieved December 13, 2016
  • Galbraith, J. K. (1958). The Affluent Society, Chapter 22:The Position of Poverty. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
  • Lusted, M. A (2010). Poverty. Edina, Minn.: ABDO Pub. p. 31. ISBN 9781604539578.
  • (2016). What are Vocational Schools? Retrieved September 09,2016,
  • Tazoacha, F. (2001). The Causes and Impact of Poverty on Sustainable Development in Africa. A paper presented at the conference held in Bordeaux, France (Nov 22-23, 2001)
  • Wikipedia (2016). Poverty. Wikipedia Publication, San Francisco,United States, retrieved December 12, 2016.
  • The World Bank (2016), Poverty and Equity, retrieved January 4, 2016,

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Uzochukwu Mike


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