An economist, Prof. Olu Ajakaiye, says the recent Word Bank’s extreme poor rating of Nigeria is a challenge to government to step up its economic empowerment programmmes.
Ajakaiye, who is the President of the Nigeria Economic Society (NES), said this in an interview on Sunday in Abuja.
He described the rating as a wake-up call to governments at all levels to redouble their efforts at poverty eradication, job creation and expansion of the economy.
The World Bank recently listed Nigeria as one of the countries habouring the world’s most extreme poor.
Other countries on the list are India, China, Bangladesh, DR Congo, Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya.
The rating came few days before Sunday’s release of Nigeria’s GDP rebasing results, which place the country as the largest economy in Africa and the 26th largest in the world.
Ajakaiye said that the disconnect between national economic growth and the living standard of majority of Nigerians meant that inequality remained a challenge in the country.
“Everywhere in the world, you have this issue of inequality and what this disparity in national economic growth and the people’s living standard means is that Nigeria is not left out.
“And in a country where you have serious inequality, the possibility is there for a large number of the people to live far below the tolerable poverty line.
“The challenge, therefore, is for government to expand the economy by focusing more on supporting small and medium enterprises, creating jobs and investing more in skills development and entrepreneurial training.’’
The NES President, however, congratulated the government on the new GDP rebasing figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Sunday.
Ajakaiy said that the new figures, which provide a better understanding of the structure of the economy, would serve as tools for government to better tackle the challenges of growing the economy and fighting poverty. (NAN)