Causes of poverty in Nigeria

Why Nigeria being endoweded with rich natural resources and land deals with poverty? Learn about the main causes of it and how it can be solved.

Nowadays poverty is one of the significant global problems. People in many countries suffer from it, as it mostly concerns undeveloped or developing countries. There can be different causes of poverty in Nigeria, because this problem doesn't occur spontaneously. Many states in the world attempt to cope with it.

Causes of poverty in Nigeria

Let’s find out what is understood by poverty. It is the state when a person lacks material possessions or money. The United Nations also describe it as a violation of human dignity and inability of making choices and getting opportunities.


Poverty can be absolute or relative. Thus, there exist two main types of it.

Causes of poverty Absolute poverty. It's a condition, characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs. They include food, drinking water, shelter, sanitation facilities, education, health, and information. The World Bank defines it as a condition limited by malnutrition, diseases, illiteracy, squalid surroundings, high infant mortality, and low life expectancy, which is beneath any reasonable definition of human decency. It depends both on the income and on the access to services.

There's also internationally accepted poverty line, which defines people in such condition. According to the World Bank, it's been $1.25 for a day since 2005. However, as the prices and necessities may differ in various countries, there are National poverty lines as well.

Relative poverty in NigeriaRelative poverty. It’s a measure of income inequality or the part of population with earnings less than some fixed proportion of median income. It mostly depends on social context. This very term is used by the United Nations Development Program, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and Canadian poverty researchers. Relative poverty reflects the social inclusion cost and equality of opportunity in certain time and space.

A wide range of factors is identified as parts of poverty. According to the WB's research, they include:

  • abuse by people in power,
  • physical limitations,
  • social relationships problems,
  • dis-empowering institutions,
  • limited capabilities,
  • excluded locations,
  • gender relationships,
  • precarious livelihoods,
  • lack of security,
  • weak community organizations.

Nigerian case - Nature and causes of poverty

In Nigeria, poverty is a real problem. It's very widespread and severe. As a result, people have lack of food, clothes, education and the other basic amenities.

Of course, such problem has certain consequences. The effects of poverty in Nigeria include:

 poverty in NigeriaPoor health - high level of infant mortality and low level of life expectancy are the biggest signs of it. A lot of people don’t get basic medical amenities and have no access to qualified specialists. Moreover, lots of children aren’t immunized and their health has low priority.

Malnutrition - poor ones don’t have access to nutritious goods or at least cannot afford them. At times people do not have sufficient amounts of any kind of food. Poor nutrition causes 45% of deaths among children under five. Besides, it can provoke terrible diseases such as kwashiorkor, marasmus, etc..Causes of poverty in Nigeria 1

Education – mostly poor kids can’t attend schools. One reason for this is, because their parents cannot afford necessary clothing or school supplies, thus they are doomed to stay illiterate.

Economy - the quantity of people in poverty affects employment rates. People aren’t able to find good jobs without proper education. Unemployment doesn’t let the economic system gain strength.

Causes of poverty 1Society - more poor people have becoming homeless, thus, the criminal rates increase. Many of them might be forced to commit thefts being deprived of the ability to purchase necessary things.

Poverty Nature

The nature of Nigerian poverty is quite complex. The statistics shows no changes for the better, as the rich ones get richer, while the poor ones get poorer. Thus, it seems there is no poverty alleviation in Nigeria. Even with the good index of economic growth, including:

  • high rate of growth during the last decade (about 7,4%),
  • well-developed economy,
  • large number of natural resources (oil etc.), it still has the highest rate of poverty.

61% of population lives below $1 per day poverty line, implying a decline in equity (the last report on this issue was made by WB in 2012).

There are three main reasons of poverty in Nigeria, among which:

  • income inequality,
  • ethnic conflicts,
  • political instability.

Many political programs failed to overcome these issues.

READ ALSO: Poorest country in the world – 5 top list.


The first poverty rate in Nigeria refers to 1980 (made by Federal Office of Statistics). Have a look at the different time indexes:











The present day


The poverty in Nigeria 2 quantity of poor people in rural and urban areas is also different. The number of poor people in the rural areas is twice higher than that of the urban ones (WB).

Poverty distribution also depends on the region. Thus, the North West zone possesses the largest part of its population living in need, and the three northern zones have 65%.

The North West zone shows the lowest expenditures and income figures as well. Poverty scale (WB, 2013):



North West


North East


These are two most vulnerable zones. However, the southern parts have poverty problems as well.

Poverty Causes

The most widespread causes include:

  1. Unemployment. It’s a key factor. The living costs row higher while the standards of life go down. There may be various causes of unemployment in Nigeria. The most common one is the lack of education. However, even educated people often cannot find a job. The unemployment rate for the country has reached 4.9% in 2007 and in 2015 it totals 7.5%.

    Causes of poverty 3
  2. Corruption. The term denotes an abuse of the power for private purposes. And it happens very often in Nigeria. Thus, the political system has been destabilized. The country income, which is taken mostly from natural resource revenues, is then distributed among the political office holders and their families. All the rest are left in poverty. It’s a common case, when political leaders just ignore the necessities and well-being of those, who have voted for them.
  3. Absence of the economy diversification. The country’s economy used to be based on the agricultural sector. However, the oil sector rose to 97% by 1984. Since that time, it’s become the major one (it has never fallen below 90%). Any other income sources have been ignored by the authorities, which has made Nigeria very dependable on oil export. Thus, great amount of people has got impoverished, as their products have become irrelevant. Moreover, Nigeria’s oil revenues reduced after the world’s oil price crash in 2014. It also made the external debt increased.
  4. Inequality. The income’s inequality among people from rural and urban areas is high in Nigeria. Those who live in the rural areas have their money only from agriculture, which isn’t a thriving sector today. Besides, they cannot invest their money as many people from the cities do.

     poverty in Nigeria 4
  5. Laziness. Even if people want to live better, many of them aren't ready to work for it. It is often happens that the family’s budget is supported by one member, who works really hard. And when they die or become very ill, the family can become poor.
  6. .Education System. Education is necessary for development. Many of the poor ones are uneducated. Many Nigerian girls can’t get educated as they are considered inferior gender.
  7. Under-utilization of labor resources. Plenty of poor farmers aren’t capable of farming on a scale that will match their labor resources. Besides, there is dire shortage of working capital. It limits the productiveness of farming in general.
  8.  Politicalinstability. Social and political programs are not capable of fighting domestic and international unrest. Investments are being withdrawn, jobs are insecure, the citizens feel economic precipice.

Possible solutions

Despite all the difficulties, there are ways to reduce the poverty level in Nigeria or at least to curb it. Themeasures contain:

Causes of poverty in Nigeria 6Rural areas development. To improve the situation, the rural population mustn’t be ignored. They should be supplied with clear water, electricity, medical assistance, and access to the information technologies.

Hunger removal. The application of technologies in local occupations such as agriculture may increase the output, reduce spoilage and goods’ prices in the cities. This will make them more affordable for the urban poor. It would be also better to build good roads from cities to villages. Thus, financial statement of rural population will improve.

Causes of poverty 6Foreign trade. Pharmaceuticals, commodities, cement, food, and many other market sectors should be developed in Nigeria to trade with the other countries (especially within Africa).

Family planning. As national wealth in Nigeria keeps declining, a baby may become not a boon, but a cause of suffering. A poor woman in this country may have up to seven children. Family planning reduces any complications, mothers, and child mortality. Special centers need to be built in order to help mothers in local areas.

Causes of poverty in Nigeria 8Minimum wage increase. The workers can be motivated with the growing amount of salary. The more and better they work, the better they are paid. It will also increase the demand for goods and services, which will have a positive effect on the economy.

Poverty is a great problem in Nigeria, which is caused by many different factors. It's obvious that people in the rural areas suffer much more. Besides, the rates aren’t the same in various regions of the country.

Being a country with good economic growth, Nigeria can try to fight poverty. Everything may become better if political leaders manage to deal with different types of unrest, to support agricultural sector, and to develop another market sectors and not only oil export.

READ ALSO: Overcoming Poverty In Nigeria.


Misery in Nigeria can be called by policy. Nigeria is most striking example of how many resource countries have low levels of life due to fact, that certain groups of people and monitor these stocks in order carry out these controls keep all people in poverty. But despite fact, that country so rich resources, population of country are poor. Main reason - corruption. When people are hungry, can not afford necessary! It's inhumane. Everything will be corrected and this country awaits bright future.

Answered 2 years ago.

The most common cases of abuse of people in power. The most terrible factor of poverty - malnutrition. When children and adults have nothing to eat, malnourished and worst of this great mortality. Also, children are unable to get an education and because of this country's economy is suffering because they do not have qualified staff to develop it. Because of poverty, people are forced to carry stolen to feed the family. To avoid poverty in Nigeria must be equality of incomes, political stability and ethnic peace.

Answered 2 years ago.

The problem of poverty of Nigeria lies in many reasons, but the main ones, I think, lies in the wrong government. In many countries a lot of problems, however, all of these problems and their consequences can be resolved by politicians. Of course, the solution of many problems requires a considerable amount of time, sometimes years, sometimes decades. While world practice shows that if desired, the state power is able to revive from the ashes and build absolutely any state, it would be on the desire of the leaders of the country.

Answered 2 years ago.

Poverty is a vast challenge of our time. In spite of the fact that the world is developing extremely fast, unfortunately there are still several countries, which suffer from indigence. It is really dumpish that such problems as penury exist.

The causes of poverty in Nigeria are understandable. I think, this country needs a smart and powerful leader to overcome the obstacles on its way to better life. There should be effective measures to decrease the level of poverty in Nigeria as quickly as it's possible.

The grade of life is an important think. I do not know how this situation can leave anyone listless.

Answered 2 years ago.
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