Why Poverty in Nigerian Communities?


The rate at which out-of-school youth roam the streets and communities of Nigeria searching for a means of survival is indeed a threat to the survival of Nigeria both in the short and long terms. Unemployment is growing in leaps and bounds. Little is being done to arrest the situation and very little has been done to manage the crisis of idleness among the Nigerian youth. According to WHO, 69% of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line. Of Nigerian estimated population of 182 million people; of which individuals between the ages of 15 and 34 make up half, the rate of unemployment among the youth is immensely staggering and is still on the rise and one of the worse tragedies of Nigeria. The report from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics in the last quarter of 2017 alone, shows unemployment among Nigerian youth increased by a dismal 25.2%. This is a time-bomb that has started exploding in many local communities across Nigeria. It accounts for the myriads of societal menace being perpetuated by a good population of unemployed Nigerian youth today.

In many communities of Imo state, youths roam the communities idle and unemployed. Many are school drop outs and have no employable skills to navigate the severe economic hardship of Nigeria. These idle youths have in many communities formed power blocks that threaten democracy and the rule of law in many of these communities. Unscrupulous members of these communities including criminal and incompetent traditional rulers use them to settle scores with perceived opponents or those they see as threats. Many of these youth groups work in an unlawful way with some members of the police in their local governments. No arrests can effectively be conducted in these communities by the police without their approval. Once you are in their good book, no matter your crime, they resist any police arrest targeted at you. This is a sad, and it is counterproductive to the rule of law and order necessary for peaceful co-existence of members of communities and for sustainable development to take place in these communities.

The reign of impunity has taken over in many communities, among traditional leaders, many have been complicit in crimes and injustices committed against communities members and some target families. Many of these traditional leaders are illiterates in the areas of conflict resolution, mitigation, peace building and reconciliation. Their incompetence in these areas create and uphold violence and the reign of wickedness, lack of respect for the dignity and right of people. They create a small group of people who constitute themselves into a law and unreasonably think that they are above the laws of the Nigeria state.

People glory in their perfidy, hatching and plotting evil against others all day long. They take pride in being wicked and glory in being champions in villainy, preferring evil to good, lying to uprightness, reveling in destructive talk, treacherous tongue, repaying kindness with cruelty, with mouths wide open to accuse innocent people, once set on their evil course, no wickedness is too much for them, making themselves strong by crime. Honour, integrity, godliness, truth is in very short supply to them. No wonder the Holy Book says, “sin is the oracle of the wicked in the depth of his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes”. Unless good people stand together to fight these evils in their communities, to understand that the abuse of any community members human rights is an abuse of the human rights of everyone, there will be no peace and sustainable development in our communities.

Recently, I saw a cartoon that tries to capture the difference between western mind and African mind. When European sees another European trying to climb a tree, he or she helps to push the climber up to reach the top. When an African sees another African climbing, he or she does everything to pull the climber down to make sure the individual does not get to the top of the tree. We can’t be tired reminding ourselves of the wise saying that the only reason evil thrives is because good people are indifferent, they do nothing! This is very true of our Nigerian communities especially Igboland.

SAID Nigeria is convinced that the fight to end poverty, create sustainable development must start with Nigerian citizens fighting for justice, human rights and the respect for the rule of law in their local communities. We believe that you need to fight the evils of your own community before you can fight that of the local government, the state and the nation. We must join to remove unjust structures in our communities that perpetuate evil, cronyism, fear, poverty and hunger. I hope it excites you as much as it does me. And that you'll join today to fight evil and poverty! Paul Onyebuchi- Programme Manager SAID Nigeria