The above title is not meant to grab attention but a statement of fact. Nigeria is a poor country and statistics will prove so.
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The mistaken notion that Nigeria is a rich country is at the root of a lot of things wrong with the country. Corruption is one of the Nigerian woes. Mismanagement is another. “Owambe” (living large) is another.
All these have their foundation on the assumption that there is so much wealth that a penny lost here and a dollar lost there will not make much difference.
Nigeria is a country with just one resource, oil. So it is easy to prove how poor the country is. The table below shows selected major oil producing countries, population, oil production in 2007 and 2017 and the average.
The average oil production is divided by the population to get the per capita rate.
The calculation shows that Nigeria is the second lowest in per capita. Second to China which has many other sources of revenue.
Population source: Wikipedia
Oil production source: Statista (Statistics Portal)
If Nigeria and Nigerians change the assumption of wealth to the fact of poverty, it is possible that many of the woes would become less.
The basic assumption of economics is that resources are scarce and the needs and wants are innumerable and hence the need to manage available scarce resources very carefully.
This assumption is turned on its head by succeeding Nigerian governments and Nigerian citizens.
Although each Nigerian should get 0.0104 barrel of oil (x dollar value)/day the very lop sided distribution of the wealth means that some people have barely 0.00001 x dollars per day.
Hence the abject poverty in which many Nigerians live.
The tragedy is that everybody at home and abroad, including foreign governments and publications attach “rich” to Nigeria.
This perpetuation of the myth of Nigeria as a rich country under false assumptions is perhaps the greatest challenge facing the country.
Nigerians must first accept that they have a poor country and start to make it rich by diversifying its revenues sources.
It must accept that the distribution of resources are too-lopsided to encourage consumption that would grow the economy.
Until these basic facts are accepted and corrected, the fight against corruption even when successful can go on, but its impact would not be felt by the ordinary citizen.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts