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Furthering the poverty conversation, by minister of state for budget & planning

By Prince Clem Ikanade Agba

Consequent to the launch of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report produced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Thursday, November 17, 2022, some observers criticised the federal government based on one of the fndings in the report, which was that 133 million Nigerians were found to be multidimensionally poor.

The impression being created by critics, on those who are yet to see or digest the nitty-gritty of the report, was that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, which had promised to lift 100m Nigerians out of poverty in ten years, had thrown 133 million Nigerians, out of an estimated population of 211 million, into poverty. I would like to believe this impression is borne out of ignorance rather than mischief, and it is incumbent on us not to allow ignorance to pass without clarifcation, especially in this period of cynicism and partisan frenzy.

Based on the World Data Lab Poverty Model, with a poverty threshold of $1.90, the World Poverty Clock calculates that in Nigeria, people living in extreme poverty in monetary terms are 69.9 million, that is 32 per cent of the estimated population of 211 million used for its projections. That is to say that there are roughly about 63.1 million people that are not poor in terms of money but, in terms of other amenities, can be considered poor/deprived. An example of this can be a child whose primary carer earns N137,430 annually (based on the 2019 poverty line) but lives in a community that deprives him/her of proper primary education, primary healthcare, sanitisation, adequate nutrition and a conducive housing environment.

As Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, I have taken up the gauntlet thrown down by critics to offer clarifcations in a bid to sustain a robust conversation around the Multidimensional Poverty Index tool, which had been deployed in over 100 countries to measure poverty and had defned poverty as the overlapping combination of deprivations that people could face in several areas of their lives, believing that we would all better understand the issues involved and put our hands on the deck to confront them head-on.

I pointed out that the MPI, a new tool with which to measure poverty in the country, was markedly different from the select focus on monetary poverty measurement. Contrary to sentiments that the report by an agency of this administration indicted the administration, the MPI only clarifed the various dimensions of poverty and its attendant deprivations. It is furthermore in line with the Federal Government’s commitment to be transparent and data-driven and primarily provide data free of interference or manipulation.

While I do not wish to repeat myself as what I said on that occasion are recorded facts, I wish to restate and reiterate the fact that the Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey results, as published by the National Bureau of Statistics, make it clear that poverty in Nigeria is mainly a rural phenomenon, with approximately 106 million (72% ) of the 133 million multidimensionally poor, residing in the rural areas.

With the signifcant contributory factors to multidimensional poverty being health and education issues, I simply pointed out that the neglect of the rural areas by those responsible for it is a signifcant factor as to why multidimensional poverty still persists today at its current levels, despite the support the Federal Government provides through social investment programmes and development policies.

The sub-nationals cannot evade this responsibility as the mandate for rural affairs fall within their ambit. It is expected that they take these empirical results, which have been provided at the senatorial district level for the frst time, and apply them in addressing the issues on ground in their respective states. I encourage the sub-national governments to take time to look at the indicators measured in the MPI to see where and how the responsibilities of addressing those indicators fall within their political and constitutional responsibilities.

Poverty is a state or condition in which a person or community lacks the fnancial resources and essentials for a minimum standard of living. Poverty means that the income level from employment is so low that basic human needs can’t be met.

Poverty-stricken people and families might go without proper housing, clean water, healthy food, and medical attention.

Each nation has its criteria for determining the poverty line and counting how many people live in poverty. Calculating a poverty index lets the government know how well it meets the nation’s needs.

As a nation, we have focused primarily on monetary poverty in the past, which looks solely at an income threshold by which it is believed people will be able to meet their needs.

However, various regional socio-economic conditions mean that people have varying access to the essentials needed to achieve a minimum standard of living. For this reason, the country, for the frst time, is instituting the Multidimensional Poverty Index to better understand the various forms of poverty and depravations.

Where the Monetary poverty index looks at individuals living on less than $1.9 dollars a day, the MPI takes monetary poverty and other factors (access to primary health, basic education, nutrition, sanitation, water, etc.) into account to determine the ability of individuals to achieve a minimum acceptable standard of living. Therefore, comparing monetary and multidimensional poverty indexes is akin to comparing apples and oranges; they are both fruit but of a completely different makeup.

The importance of the MPI is that it gives us a more nuanced view of the country’s socio-economic challenges and dives into a deeper geographical look. This enables us, for instance, to understand disparities in states on a senatorial district level and will help the federal, state and local governments tailor their policies, programmes and project implementation objectives more accurately to the unique needs of its people.

The parameters looked at in calculating the MPI are:

  • Primary Health


  • Nutrition


  • Food insecurity


  • Time to healthcare


  • Basic Education


  • School Attendance


  • Years of Schooling



  • School Lag



  • Living Standards


  • Access to Potable Water


  • Water Reliability


  • Sanitation


  • Housing Materials


  • Cooking Fuel


  • Assets (Land, etc.)



  • Work & Shocks


  • Unemployment


  • Underemployment


  • Security Shock

Diagram 1: Venn Diagram of Government Responsibilities in relation to (MPI) Indicators

Indicator Government Responsible
Nutrition Federal, State and Local Government
Food Security Federal, State and Local Government
Time to Healthcare State and Local Government
School Attendance State and Local Government
School Lag State and Local Government
Water State Government
Water Reliability State Government
Sanitation Local Government
Housing Materials Federal, State and Local Government
Cooking Fuel Federal, State and Local Government
Assets (Land, etc.) State Governments
Unemployment Federal, State and Local Government
Underemployment Federal, State and Local Government
Security Shock Federal, State and Local Government

Table 1: Government Responsibilities concerning (MPI) Indicators

From looking at the main contributory factors infuencing multidimensional policy, we can see that the non “glossy” things such as adequately run primary and secondary schools (proper facilities, teachers and funding), well-equipped, staffed and maintained primary health centres, drinkable pipe borne water, good waste management (pickup and disposal) and friendly local business policies (removing excessive permits and levies) have the most impact on reducing poverty in all forms.

These also consequently have the highest impact on growth. Primary and Secondary healthcare and basic education, for example, are exclusively under the remit of Local and State Governments. Water Boards and their service delivery are exclusively under the State governments, the same goes for land ownership as well as business levies and permits charged in the various localities.

Building a good network of rural roads across agro corridors will improve access to markets while reducing post-harvest losses (currently estimated at 60%). This will signifcantly impact the rural agrarian economy and industries and reduce food infation in urban areas.

Strengthening service delivery across the various contributing parameters is the easiest way to roll back the numbers. This will entail Local Government reforms in the various states

Having untangled some of the fndings of the MPI report, I wish to clarify that while I had held the sub-national governments accountable for their role in the poverty levels in the country, my opinion was not a blanket one. For the record, I cannot paint all governors with a brush of negligence in implementing poverty-reduction programmes in the rural areas of their respective states.

I have cited and commended what the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Kebbi State Governor, Mr Atiku Bagudu were doing with the LAKE rice and the Ebonyi Governor, Mr David Umahi’s contribution to help address the question of food security in the country. At the same time, I joined issues with the Akwa-Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, on his position on the increasing price of rice and what he was doing or had done as governor to make the price of rice go down.

Moreover, some governors, like Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai and Barrister Nyesom Wike, have built roads, bridges and other iconic social infrastructural facilities, such as hospitals and schools, both in the rural and urban areas of their State. That they were not singled out at the State House media engagement does not include them in my classifcation of governors who had not embarked on projects that positively impacted the people, especially in the rural areas. Ondo state, in particular, must be given recognition as they have the lowest incidence of multidimensional poverty (27.2%) in the entire country.

I reiterate my position that States are not adequately playing their complementary role in promoting sectors directly under their purview, like primary health, basic education, water, rural roads and infrastructure. They should prudently manage their resources and spread them to the rural area that impacts directly and positively on the majority of the people as well as improves their living standard so that the desire by the Federal Government to lift 100 million Nigerians from poverty in 10 years can be collaboratively and collectively realized for the beneft of the nation.

It is pertinent to know that statistical information is the bedrock of successful policy at all levels of government. The MPI is neither a half-witted document with a political undertone nor that which seeks to shift blame. As an intellectual document, if there is a need for a rejoinder, the critics should go to the feld and conduct research. However, in doing this, it is essential to note that the 36 States Bureau of Statistics participated in the production of the subject MP Index.

I believe that the Federal Government’s policies, plans and programs will work better and be more impactful if the sub-nationals understand that development is bottom-up. Then they can begin to redirect their spending to people-oriented and community-impacting projects.

The Federal Government will continue supporting states that are committed to tackling these binding issues.

The Government of President Muhammadu Buhari will remain committed to its primary responsibilities of good policy initiatives and robust developmental programs. The Federal Government’s support for small and medium-scale businesses, in line with the National Development Plan, has facilitated economic growth for eight consecutive quarters since the Covid-19-induced recession, growing by 2.25% in the third quarter of 2022.

Below is the summary MPI Data by State and Senatorial District:


  State MPI Senatorial (%) Senatorial (%) Senatorial (%) Highest Contributory (%) by Sector  
  (%) District 1 District 2 District 3 Indicator (%)  
  Sokoto 90.5 Sokoto South 91.8 Sokoto East 90.3 Sokoto 89.4 School attendance (13.9) Urban 77.2  
  North Rural 93.1  


  Bayelsa 88.5 Bayelsa West 96.3 Bayelsa 85.2 Bayelsa 83.3 Food insecurity (16.8) Urban 81.6
  Central East Rural 90.1
  Gombe 86.2 Gombe Central 88.8 Gombe 88.5 Gombe 80.9 School attendance (11.7) Urban 70.2
  North South Rural 87.2
  Jigawa 84.3 Jigawa North 87.6 Jigawa South 83.3 Jigawa 83.7 Nutrition (14.3) Urban 64.0
  East West North West Rural 88.0
  Plateau 84.0 Plateau South 86.5 Plateau 83.6 Plateau 79.1 Time to healthcare Urban 66.2
  Central North (12.0) Rural 85.9
  Yobe 83.5 Yobe South 88.1 Yobe North 87.6 Yobe East 80.8 School attendance (14.9) Urban 69.7
  Rural 90.0
  Kebbi 82.2 Kebbi South 83.8 Kebbi 83.1 Kebbi 80.3 School attendance (14.8) Urban 56.6
  Central North Rural 87.3
  Taraba 79.4 Taraba North 83.6 Taraba South 78.6 Taraba 75.5 Food insecurity (16.4) Urban 65.6
  Central Rural 82.6
  Zamfara 78.0 Zamfara West 82.6 Zamfara 75.4 Zamfara 73.1 School attendance (15.9) Urban 64.3
  North Central Rural 83.5
  Ebonyi 78.0 Ebonyi Central 83.3 Ebonyi North 79.0 Ebonyi 66.2 Food insecurity (17.4) Urban 45.2
  South Rural 83.2
  Cross 75.4 Cross River 83.5 Cross River 73.6 Cross River 65.5 Food insecurity (19.7) Urban 66.2
  River North Central South Rural 77.6
  Benue 75.0 Benue South 83.7 Benue North 75.2 Benue 62.9 Time to healthcare Urban 50.8
  West North East (17.3) Rural 78.6
  Kaduna 73.9 Kaduna North 79.4 Kaduna 72.1 Kaduna 65.6 Time to healthcare Urban 60.1
  South Central (13.3) Rural 77.4
  Bauchi 73.9 Bauchi North 79.8 Bauchi 78.5 Bauchi 61.1 School attendance (16.9) Urban 38.9
  Central South Rural 77.5
  Katsina 72.7 Katsina Central 77.9 Katsina 76.1 Katsina 62.7 School attendance (15.4) Urban 57.7
  North South Rural 79.6
  Borno 72.5 Borno North 88.9 Borno 71.6 Borno 69.4 School attendance (15.1) Urban 69.1
  Central South Rural 74.1


  Akwa 71.3 Akwa Ibom 73.2 Akwa Ibom 71.3 Akwa Ibom 69.3 Food insecurity (17.1) Urban 55.9
  Ibom South North West North East Rural 76.0
  Niger 69.1 Niger North 76.4 Niger South 72.3 Niger East 64.5 School attendance (14.7) Urban 40.5
  Rural 75.6
  Adamawa 68.7 Adamawa 71.8 Adamawa 70.9 Adamawa 63.0 Time to healthcare Urban 53.2
  South North Central (13.6) Rural 72.5
  Ogun 68.1 Ogun West 83.9 Ogun Central 48.9 Ogun East 46.4 Food insecurity & Time Urban 41.0
  to healthcare (16.8) Rural 81.1
  Kano 66.3 Kano South 77.0 Kano North 75.0 Kano 49.8 Nutrition (14.7) Urban 41.2
  Central Rural 77.4
  Enugu 63.1 Enugu East 75.3 Enugu North 63.9 Enugu West 54.7 Time to healthcare Urban 54.8
  (19.3) Rural 63.9
  Rivers 62.4 Rivers South 73.5 Rivers West 70.6 Rivers East 52.0 Food insecurity (17.3) Urban 55.6
  East Rural 64.8
  Kogi 61.3 Kogi East 77.0 Kogi Central 49.5 Kogi West 45.5 Food insecurity (17.8) Urban 45.5
  Rural 65.1
  Nasarawa 60.7 Nassarawa 68.5 Nassarawa 58.8 Nassarawa 51.8 Security shock (11.3) Urban 41.7
  South North West Rural 67.6
  Oyo 48.7 Oyo North 60.1 Oyo Central 44.8 Oyo South 42.4 Food insecurity (16.3) Urban 33.9
  Rural 73.4
  Kwara 48.3 Kwara North 56.7 Kwara 42.7 Kwara 41.7 Years of schooling (16.5) Urban 28.8
  Central South Rural 57.1
  FCT Abuja 48.3 FCT Abuja 48.3 Plateau       Food insecurity (17.4) Urban 42.9
  Central       Rural 56.1
  Delta 47.6 Delta South 52.5 Delta Central 47.9 Delta North 43.2 Time to healthcare Urban 39.2
  (14.4) Rural 50.6
  Imo 40.7 Imo North 48.8 Imo East 38.7 Imo West 31.2 Food insecurity (22.2) Urban 47.6
  Rural 40.2
  Osun 40.7 Osun West 45.5 Osun East 38.3 Osun 38.0 Food insecurity (15.5) Urban 35.4
  Central Rural 52.4


  Ekiti 36.0 Ekiti South 36.7 Ekiti North 35.9 Ekiti 34.7 Food insecurity (15.6) Urban 30.9
  Central Rural 49.3
  Edo 35.4 Edo North 46.3 Edo Central 35.8 Edo South 27.6 Food insecurity (17.3) Urban 24.9
  Rural 40.7
  Anambra 32.1 Anambra South 38.3 Anambra 30.7 Anambra 26.0 Food insecurity (18.5) Urban 37.3
  North Central Rural 29.7
  Abia 29.8 Abia South 36.0 Abia North 28.8 Abia 26.4 Food insecurity (20.3) Urban 28.7
  Central Rural 30.1
  Lagos 29.4 Lagos East 35.5 Lagos West 29.7 Lagos 22.6 Food insecurity (19.9) Urban 26.9
  Central Rural 45.5
  Ondo 27.2 Ondo South 36.2 Ondo North 23.5 Ondo 20.1 Time to healthcare Urban 14.1
  Central (14.9) Rural 39.7
  National 62.9             Food insecurity & Time Urban 42.0
              Rural 72.0
                  to healthcare (32.0)


Prince Clem Ikanade Agba is Minister of State Budget and National Planning, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Abuja

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