The International Human Right Commission (IHRC) has described the recent report by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which stated that 133 million Nigerians were poor as disturbing.
IHRC’s Ambassador at Large and Head of Diplomatic Missions in Nigeria, Duru Hezekiah, stated this on Friday at the presentation of food items and cash to 150 low income earners and people living with disabilities in Abuja.
Recall that NBS disclosed that 133 million Nigerians were multi-dimensionally poor, saying that the figure represented 63% of the country’s population.
The report blamed the country’s rising poverty on poor access to education, living standards, health, employment and security.
But Hezekiah, while reacting to the report maintained that the poverty rate, if not urgently addressed, would dovetail into famine and conflict.
“We are really in economic crisis. And if it is not checked, I tell you, the time is coming when will go into fiasco, a time is coming when in fact, Nigeria will be declared a hunger country and that is why we are still appealing to government.
“In International Human Rights Commission, we don’t believe in protests. We don’t believe in riots.
“We believe in dialogue and negotiation. And so we keep appealing to government, advising them on way forward to find a lasting solution.
“I know we might not be able to eradicate poverty 100 per cent but I tell you the growth of a nation begins with the growth of the people.
“If the people are happy, if the people are well taken care of, there will be growth. Look at the developed countries today.
“The rate of poverty is low compared to us here. So if governments want to be true to ourselves, they should help us by empowering these people so that they can be able to cope up with the level of inflation.”
Speaking on how the beneficiaries emerged, Duru said many Nigerians were languishing under the scourge of poverty and social vulnerability, adding that the Yuletide comes with no substance with which to carry out any celebration.
He added: “It is in awareness of this that we must commend the brain and drive behind this annual end-of-year giveaway programme for the vulnerable.
“Further still, in recognition of its targeting specifically of women from selected rural areas of the Federal Capital Territory to comprise the beneficiaries of this year’s edition, I wish to re-iterate that the choice could be no more appropriate, for women, being natural home-makers, have the majority of those rural households depending on them for the possibility of love, joy and laughter this season.
“For us as humanitarians to feast freely and draw the year to close with joy in our hearts, we must ensure that there is some justice in our world and
society as manifested through equitable, or at least charitable.”
Also, Secretary-General of Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities, FCT Chapter, Agbo Chris, said most of the 133 million Nigerians in poverty are persons with disabilities with restricted opportunities.
“Most of us suffer a lot of discrimination. The offices where we will even move us to earn living is not accessible for them.
“And a whole lot of other opportunities that we don’t really have and thus, it is a very serious thing that we will begin to see how to include persons with disabilities on whatever we do, and attempt to try to curb poverty without including persons with disabilities is only a joke.”