By SundiataPOST, Abuja
The presidency has refuted a claim credited to Mrs Marie-Franciose Nelly, the World Bank Country Director in Nigeria that 100 million Nigerians live in destitution or extreme poverty.
This is contained in a statement issued by Dr Nwanze Okidegbe, the Chief Economic Adviser to the President.
The World Bank country director made the claim in Enugu on November 12 during the bank’s Country Programme Portfolio Review.
Okidegbe described Nelly’s claim as `false.’
He said that the claim contradicts the position of Makhtar Diop, the Bank’s Vice President for Africa during his visit to Nigeria in May.
“In May 2013, Diop declared that poverty has fallen under this administration from 48 per cent to 46 per cent.
“Given our current population of about 170 million people, the Country Director’s imagery of 100 million Nigerian destitute seems to be based on a much higher poverty rate than that of her boss.
“The question that arises from this absurdity therefore is: who is right?
“Secondly, according to the World Bank, to live in extreme poverty is to live on less than 1.25 dollars per day, including the cost of accommodation, clothing, feeding, and other incidentals.
“1.25 dollars per day translates into N200 per day or N6, 000 per month.
“On feeding alone, a loaf of bread costs more than N200 in many parts of Nigeria while a plate of food, even from a road side food vendor, costs about the same amount,’’ he said.
Okidegbe said that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan had undertaken some reform programmes in key sectors of the economy like agriculture to create jobs and reduce poverty.
“Indeed, Nigeria was recently honoured for meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing people living in absolute hunger by half, well ahead of the 2015 target set by the UN.
“On average, about 20 per cent of the Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P) is allocated exclusively to protecting the poor through different types of social safety nets.
“One important area of success is the Conditional Grant Scheme with total conditional cash transfer to almost 40,000 households and recruitment of over 2,000 new health workers working on improving maternal and child health,’’ he said.
The economic adviser said that instead of peddling inaccurate poverty numbers, the World Bank should focus on designing programmes and interventions to support the efforts of the government to accelerate poverty reduction in Nigeria.