Despite the poverty eradication programme of government in the country, about 80 million Nigerians still live below poverty line, the National Co-ordinator of NAPEP, Magnu L. Mpakol, has said.
Mpakol disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at a one-day workshop for state co-ordinators and secretaries for the take-off of 'In Care of the People (Cope) and Promise Keeper Partnership Scheme (PKP) programmes meant to fight poverty in the country.
"Despite all our efforts there is still serious poverty out there. Even the latest statistic that will soon come out will show that poverty rate is still well about 40 percent and that is very high in a country like ours. If we are even around the 50 percent mark and considering that we have a population of about 160 million people, it means that we have close to 80 million in poverty and we are talking about poverty of the African time," he said.
He said state governments cannot eradicate poverty in Nigeria on the strength of federation account and that they need to build a strong private sector and create a strong market place, saying that it is only when that is done that we would have a chance of fighting and defeating poverty.
According to him, most Nigerians are disconnected from the main stream economy thereby making poverty to strive, adding that in a country where people are disconnected from the main stream economy there is bound to be poverty in the land.
"When we know the things that need to be done, have it in our mind and fail to do it we would still have a problem. We have to identify those things and do them. I believe strongly that we have to find a way to build viable private sector. It is when we promote and build the private sector that it can create jobs and have a good chance of getting out of poverty.
In poverty reduction, we have to have a strong economy that is creating jobs, good education, good road, electricity and other things you see in other countries where the economy is working. State governments have to put money into creating small and medium enterprises even if they have to borrow the money through the banks and by so doing poverty would be reduced in the country," he said
Mpakol attributed the crises witnessed during election periods to a reflection of the misery in the country saying that "if a people have a place of work where they earn decent income they would have no time for violence.
He said, "the aim of COPE and KPK is trying to sensitize people to know what they can do, how to do it and also help them to recognize it and not that the government would give money to churches and mosques but to get champions in the society so that those who are doing well could be able to help other people stand on their own," he said.
PKP and COPE scheme is to empower economically active poor households and youths through faith-based organisations to enable them undertake activities that would improve their well being.