Multi-dimensional poverty, drug addiction and 2023
What will be in it for Nigeria if most of the voters in 2023 elections are multi-dimensionally poor and addicted to drugs? In other words, what can BVAS and other electronic devices deliver to us in 2023 if most of the voters are multi-dimensionally poor and the bulk of the youth we depend on to change our crushing systemic failure may not be able to exercise good judgment because of drug addiction? And so will vote buying not dominate next election, in this connection? In this age of the big data, two of our credible institutions and agencies of governance released useful and big data we can use to look into the seeds of time and peep into the 2023 politics and project election outcomes. As I have been writing on the walls here, this is another age of consequences. God isn’t deceived whatever we sow we will certainly reap. Our political leaders have been eating sour grapes since 1999, for instance, and no matter how vigilant we the children have been in recent time, our teeth will surely be set on edge in this age of consequences.
Please, come with me to analyse the consequential data: The Federal Government last Thursday in Abuja disclosed that 63 per cent of persons within Nigeria, 133 million, are living in poverty. The figure was presented during the launch of Nigeria’s Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Survey in Abuja on Thursday, November 17, 2022.
The timely survey was conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). So, the data we are contextualising aren’t from any opposition party elements. They are about us and our future.
There are confirmed reports that the measure used to calculate the figure was based on Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) with five components of health, living standard, education, security and unemployment.
The survey, which sampled over 56,000 households across the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT, conducted between November 2021 and February 2022, states that 65 per cent of the poor, 86 million people, live in the North, while 35 per cent, nearly 47 million live in the South.
The report identified Sokoto State as having the most poverty level across states, with 91 per cent while Ondo has the lowest with 27 per cent. While speaking at the event, President Muhammadu Buhari said the index was adopted because it provides ways poverty could be identified and tackled with policies. Buhari was represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
The report confirmed that, “over half of the population of Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor and they cook with dung, wood or charcoal, rather than cleaner energy. High deprivations are also apparent nationally in sanitation, time to healthcare, food insecurity, and housing.”
The credible report indicates, “In general, the incidence of monetary poverty is lower than the incidence of multi-dimensional poverty across most states. In Nigeria, 40.1 per cent of people are poor according to the 2018/19 national monetary poverty line, and 63 per cent are multi-dimensionally poor according to the National MPI 2022.” According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Nigeria’s population reached 216 million in 2022, accounting for 2.7 per cent of the 8 billion global population.
As soon as the report was released, Senator Shehu Sani tackled the present administration for failing to lift even one million Nigerians out of poverty and instead threw 133 millions into abject poverty. President Buhari had unveiled government’s plans to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ms Kachollum Daju, had told newsmen in September that the Federal Government planned lifting was attainable, if stakeholders had played their expected roles effectively. This is also another time of excuses and alibi!
On that same Thursday, while the data on multi-dimensional poverty were being contextually reported in the nation’s capital, Abuja, Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd) was analysing damning data on social menace that may affect outcomes of the 2023 elections. Specifically, he said that Nigerian youth might not make the impact people envisaged in the 2023 general elections on account of drug abuse.
Marwa, who spoke in Lagos, at the 10th Anniversary Lecture and Investiture into the RealNews Hall of Fame, under a theme: “Drug Abuse among Youths in Africa: Implication for Nigerian Economy and 2023 election,” said with the upsurge of drug usage among youths, they might not be actively involved in the voting process.
His words: “Nigerians are not ignorant about drug trafficking and drug abuse issues. The activities of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), in the past 22 months have given our society a clear picture, certainty and the severity of the drug problem in the country. The arrest of 19, 341 drug offenders and subsequent conviction of 3, 111 in addition to the seizure of 5.5 million kilograms of assorted drugs in 22 months are incontrovertible facts of a deeply entrenched illicit drug subculture. Previously, many Nigerians found it hard to believe that illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin are trafficked in and out of the country. But NDLEA has made huge seizures and there is no basis for scepticism anymore.” He continued: “If anything, NDLEA activities since January 2021 have further reinforced the facts of Nigeria being an important hub in the global illicit drug network, and secondly, that our country is not only a transit pipeline but also a market.”
He said boldly, “Nigerians cannot pretend now not to know that our young people are abusing illicit drugs because youths have an overt drug lifestyle. Youths of today promote the drug subculture. It is common nowadays to hear them say they want to be high. It is there on the street, in songs, in the chat rooms, in clubs and parties.”
He said, “it is disturbing that abusing marijuana and alcohol is the new normal for youths, especially the Generation Z and even the Millennials,” noting that “drugs and violence go hand in hand. We can recall the social upheaval caused in South East states in the last quarter of 2021, when there was an outbreak of abuse of methamphetamine. That episode gave us a foresight of the kind of instability that could result from abuse of illicit drugs by young people.”
The former military governor of Lagos State noted that we could take a cue from the United States, which has better statistics. In 2007, the economic cost of drug abuse in the United States was estimated at $193 billion. Out of this, lost productivity accounted for $120 billion; while healthcare gulped $11 billion for drug treatment and drug related medical consequences and the sum of $61 billion was spent on criminal justice, primarily for criminal investigation, prosecution and incarceration, and victim costs.
Other speakers at the lecture were Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Doctor, Tranquil and Quest Behavioural Health, Dr. Nkemamolam Ndiomuka; Director General, Christ Against Drug Abuse Ministry (CADAM), Dr. Dokun Adedeji, and former Director General and member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Eradication of Drug Abuse (PACEDA), Otunba Lanre Ipinmisho.
The NDLEA boss, meanwhile, charged parents and other stakeholders to rise up to the challenge of ensuring that illicit substances are kept away from young Nigerians, warning that complacency is capable of compromising the bright future ahead of the youth population. Marwa said instead of benefitting from the advantages of the huge youth population in Nigeria, the reverse may be the case if relevant stakeholders fail to stand up and join ongoing efforts against the drug scourge.
Figures on poverty have become part of the government’s propaganda machinery. Election candidates highlight what they describe as unacceptable levels of poverty, and go ahead to declare poverty reduction as part of their goals and fundamental objectives. This is a global context. The number of poor people, positively impacted or lifted out of poverty through policies and actions of governments, has become an image booster for public officials, aspirants to high office and the administrations they represent. According to a recent observer, they use such figures, tell stories that suit their objectives by swaying the minds of the poor, who are always in the majority, in any case.
Let’s read the following data: The North-West and South-West geopolitical zones are leading in voter registration with 22,672,373 and 18,332,191 eligible voters, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yet-to-be encrypted fact file has shown.
An update published recently showed that 96,303,016 people had registered before the voter registration was suspended on July 31. In 2019, the commission registered 84,004,084 voters. The 2022 INEC data indicated an increase of 12,298,944 registrations ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The North-West, comprising seven states (Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara), have 22,672,373 eligible voters. The South-West region comprising Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti followed closely with a total of 18,332,191 voters. The North-Central came third with 15,680,438 registered voters, a little above the South-South with 15,299,374. The North-East has 12,820,363 voters registered so far. The South-East has 11,498,277 eligible voters. There are indications that the Register is being cleaned up as the 12, 298, 944 registrations haven’t been validated. Despite that, the North West will still lead the pack.
And so the trouble with democracy is this: The multi-dimensional poverty survey, which sampled over 56,000 households across the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT, conducted between November 2021 and February 2022, reveals that 65 per cent of the poor, 86 million people, live in the North, while 35 percent, nearly 47 million live in the South. The report identified Sokoto State (North West) as having the most poverty level across states, with 91 per cent while Ondo has the lowest with 27 per cent. It is consistent that the region that has the highest poverty level, North West also has the highest number of registered voters. Their votes and South West’s can’t be discounted or ignored. So, the multi-dimensionally poor have hope: their votes will determine who will become the next President of Nigeria, who may like Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil specialise in lifting millions of people out of poverty through public policies.