The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has stated that the poverty situation in Nigeria is unacceptable given the country’s abundant natural resources.
He made the statement, Saturday, during a convocation lecture he delivered at the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, Adamawa state capital, noting that Nigeria’s citizens deserve wealth, not poverty, stressing that the nation must adapt to how to manage its diversity for prosperity.
Adesina highlighted the country’s 38.5% youth unemployment, “lacking skills, economic opportunities, discouraged, angry and restless, as they look at a future that does not give them hope”.
He advised the government to give priority to investing in youths.
“I speak to you today as a Nigerian. As I have quite often said, I will live as a Nigerian, die as a Nigerian, and on the resurrection morning, I will ask God for permission to rise as a Nigerian, with the green-white-green flag in my hand!” Adesina said.
“Nigeria is blessed with incredibly rich diversity: of people, of cultures, of religions, of mineral resources, oil, and gas, amazingly rich biodiversity, that should make us the envy of the world.
“We are blessed with abundantly diverse agro-ecologies, that should also make us a land of bountiful harvests with capacity to feed Africa.
“We are a religious nation, so we should understand that God loves diversity. The diversity of rich and brilliant colours that we see in our forests, oceans, seas, and in flora and fauna, reflect the beauty of the Creator.
“Therefore, our diversity is not our problem. Diversity is our strength. But when mismanaged, diversity becomes divergence. Rather than unite, we become splintered, with each entity believing that, somehow, it is better without the other. We must manage diversity for the collective good.
“Nigeria must start managing its diversity for prosperity. We must drive for national cohesion, not ethnic nationalities. We must address the fundamental reasons for agitations, by listening, understanding, removing prejudices and allowing for open, national dialogues, without preconditions, but with one goal: build one cohesive, united, fair, just and equitable nation for all, not for a few or for any section of the nation or religion.
“Nigerians deserve wealth, not poverty. For all the abundant wealth of natural resources, Nigeria’s poverty situation is unacceptable. Today, sadly, there are way too many poor people in Nigeria.
“The Government is implementing bold social programs to reduce the number of poor, through interventionist programs, but the fact of the matter is poverty is not just about money.”
Adesina further said there should not be a Nigeria for the rich and another Nigeria for the poor, adding that every citizen has the right to a decent life.
In June, the World Bank said an estimated 7 million Nigerians may have been pushed into poverty in 2020 due to rising prices alone — without considering the direct impacts of COVID-19.