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Poverty is a global phenomenon, which affects continents, nations and peoples differently. It afflicts people in various depths and levels, at different times and phases of existence. There is no nation that absolutely free from poverty. The main difference is the intensity and prevalence of this malaise. Nations in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America are currently with the highest level of socio-economic development. They also have the highest level of social insecurity, violence unrest and generally unacceptable low standard of living.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (1999:1) views poverty as “A state where an individual is not able to cater adequately for his or her basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, is unable to meet social and economic obligations, lacks gainful employment, skills, assets and self-esteem; and has limited access to social and economic infrastructure such as education, health, portable water, and sanitation, and consequently, has limited chance of advancing his or her welfare to the limit of his or her capabilities”.

The World Bank (2000:10 utilized inductive approach to uncover various dimensions of poverty such as well-being, psychological, basic infrastructure, illness and assets. One of such definitions is “the lack of what is necessary for material well-being-especially food, but also housing, land and other assets. In other words, poverty is the lack of multiple resources that leads to hunger and physical deprivation”.

Another of such definitions is “lack of voice, power, and independence that subjects them to exploitation. Their poverty leaves them vulnerable to rudeness, humiliation, and inhumane treatment by both private and public agents of the state from whom they seek help. Nigeria, ranked among the 25 poorest countries in the world started its independent nationhood with poverty level of barely 15% of its population in 1960 and is today struggling to bring it down from 70% of its current teeming population of about N120million. Of about 75% is concentrated in the rural areas where illiteracy prevalence is high, potable water and health facilities are rarely available, road and electricity infrastructures are either unavailable or ill-managed.

The World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s 2002, Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.461 indicates the deplorable state of the nation’s level of poverty and low human development. This is in spite of the fact that the country is richly endowed with all kinds of water, agricultural and mineral resources. Nigeria’s proportion of the poor has doubled over the last two decades, during which time the country received over $300 billion in oil and gas revenue.

Paradoxically, Nigeria’s level of revenue and endowment are in opposite direction with her poverty level. While revenue profile of Nigeria rose from N4billion in 1975 to N26billion in 1980, and GNP per capital rose from $60 to more than N100 in the same period, the percentage of the population that was poor grew from 15% in 1960 to world bank and UNDP 2001 statistics, Nigeria which impressively ranked 6th and 7th in petroleum Export and Petroleum production respectively, is ranked 194th in GNP per capita and is unenviable classified as the 25th poorest nation in the world.

However, the above scenario has not come into being as a result of non-challant attitude and non-recognition of the problem at hand. It has also not come by as a result of lack of response to the yearning of the poor people to be emancipated state of near-despair. No Nigerian Government, be it military or civilian, has come without introducing and leaving behind one form of poverty alleviation or reduction programme meant to reduce the level of poverty, give hope and succour to the poor and, or move towards some sort of wealth creation.

Strategies, policies and plans have been articulated; programmes and projects have been formulated and executed over the years. For instance, at independence in 1960, poverty eradication efforts in Nigeria centred on education, while Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), the Green Revolution, War Against Indiscipline (WAI), Peoples Bank of Nigeria (PBN), Community Bank Directorate of Food Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), Nigerian Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP), Better Life for Rural Women, Family Support Programme (FSP) and National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) existed during the period under review. Though successive governments have tried to address the issue of poverty as captured above, the effect of the strategies and programmes has been that of mixed feelings. The question bothering a great number of Nigerians are:

  1. If so much efforts have been made towards reducing poverty in Nigeria, why is poverty the increase?
  2. What is the effect of the increasing poverty rate on the nation’s economy?
  3. Are there better ways or strategies of implementing poverty reduction programmes to make them move effective?



It has been known in Nigeria that every government embarks on one form of poverty reduction strategy or the other. However, what has remained unanswered is the extent to which these programmes have impacted on the poor-the target population. Recent studies on the subject poverty and its reduction agencies as well as programmes indicate that considerable gap exists between the target objective- alleviating or eradicating poverty-and achievement. It seems that the efforts of various governments are ineffective and therefore not much has been done to actualize the benefits. For poverty reduction agencies, their results do not seem to justify the huge financial allocations to them. Poor people’s perceptions of formal poverty reduction institutions are largely that of ineffectiveness and irrelevance in their lives as government poverty reduction activities contribute little in their struggles to survive and rarely help them to escape poverty.

More disturbing is the fact that despite the extremely large amount of resources committed to those programmes, the poverty situation aggravates, and more people fall into the poverty region instead of escaping.


The overall objective of the study is to assess the various strategies and tools or instruments used to implement the various poverty reduction strategies between 1983 and 2002 (twenty year period of review). Specifically the objectives are:

  1. To identify these strategies
  2. To measure their effectiveness and impact on the poor or target group.
  3. To assess their capability for reducing poverty.
  4. To identify reasons for their failure or success and
  5. To suggest and recommend appropriate poverty reduction strategies for Nigeria.


Achieving significance results in reducing poverty often hinges on what is done, how it is done, when it is done, and whom it is targeted at. It is obvious from several studies that poverty reduction strategies in Nigeria have failed to achieve their stated objectives. It therefore requires concerted efforts by all to contribute to the success of this all-important but elusive goal. Such efforts can only be meaningful if it stems from an empirical study in order to support the government to realize the global objective of eradicating poverty by the year 2015.

  1. The study is expected to be a planned effort to identify, articulate and highlight the existence, causes and efforts of poverty in Nigeria.
  2. it is guest to streamlining poverty reduction strategies towards making them more potent.
  3. The study is also expected to be of benefit to a number of groups especially stakeholders of poverty reduction efforts such as public and private sectors strategists. Planners, managers, coordinators and monitors of poverty reduction agencies and the poor who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the efforts and indeed the general public.
  4. The research is expected to be part of data bank for operators as well as policy makers in poverty reduction strategies.
  5. It will arouse the interest of student to conduct more researches in this field of study.


The research hypotheses that will guide the study is as follows:

H1: Poverty reduction strategies in Nigeria have succeeded in reducing poverty; and

H0: Poverty reduction strategies in Nigeria have not succeeded in reducing poverty.


To conduct an effective research in Nigeria is always a hard task, owing to people’s attitude towards the release of information. Information is seen as sacred and too confidential to release giver. The questionnaires were administered on two hundred and thirty (230) respondents and it took persistent visit to get one hundred and forty-two to respond.

Perhaps, the most debilitating limitation of this study is the inadequacy of data in that data on poverty incidences in Nigeria by the relevant authority was last updated in the social welfare survey carried out by the federal office of statistics in 2007. Information made available to the researcher revealed that Mr. President had just requested the National Poverty Eradication Programme to collaborate with the federal office of statistics to conduct an update survey to avail him and all concerned the much needed current relevant data.


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