Understatement: There Are MORE Than 90 Million Extremely Poor Nigerians

CLAIM: Sadiya Umar said 90 million Nigerians are living in extreme poverty.

Understatement: There Are MORE Than 90 Million Extremely Poor Nigerians

FALSE: The minister’s notion with respect to living conditions in the country is true; her figures though, not so much. Turns out, there are at least 4.62 million more extremely poor people in Nigeria than she claimed.

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Last week Monday, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development said Nigeria has 90 million inhabitants currently living in extreme poverty! Sadiya Umar Farouq, made this bold claim while defending the 2020 budget proposal of the Ministry; before the House of Representatives Committee on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

“90 million of the country’s 198 million population live in extreme poverty; relatively high unemployment (at 23.2 percent) with over 40 million unemployed or underemployed; high number of persons of concern (including over 2 million IDPs, 230,000 Nigerian refugees in Niger, Chad and Cameroon and 45,000 refugees in Nigeria; 22 million persons with disabilities; over 14 million persons in one form of drug and substance abuse or the other and growing needs of the elderly and vulnerable groups”

Sadiya Umar

The report was published by several national media organisations not limited to – The Sun, The Nation, ThisDay, Tribune, and Vanguard.


On June 19, 2018, a report by the Brookings Institution projected that Nigeria overtook India – a country with seven times its population – as the country with the largest number of extremely poor people; with an estimated 87 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty at the end of May 2018. The report also noted that poverty in Nigeria was growing by six people every minute; against India, where poverty continued to fall.

Since then, there have been several claims regarding Nigeria’s plight in this regard; and the government’s achievements in lifting people out of poverty. The Federal government recently claimed it lifted over five million Nigerians out of extreme poverty; this is NOT TRUE. 

Those in the other camp have, unsurprisingly, made TRUE claims about the state of the economy. For instance, Tope Fasua claimed Nigeria has the highest number of poor people in the world. Also, Nigeria’s former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said that the country overtook India as the world’s capital of extreme poverty; while his running mate- Peter Obi- claimed Nigeria has more extremely poor people than India and China combined.

So naturally, the government would be concerned; especially the division poised with combatting this apparent pandemic. It is against this backdrop, we believe the claim was made; also to justify the budgetary allocation to the ministry for the 2020 fiscal year. 


We utilized data from the World Poverty Clock – a project which provides real-time poverty estimates for almost every country of the world; to monitor progress towards ending extreme poverty by 2030.

Findings suggest that as at November 1st, Nigeria had a total number of 94.62 million people living in extreme poverty. This represents 47.7 percent of its 198 million population; thus, validating Brookings Institution’s report that the country has the largest population of extremely poor people in the world.

Similarly, Oxfam – an international human rights organisation – quoted the same data. It noted that 94.47 million people live in extreme poverty in Nigeria; as at October 7, 2019. 

We subtracted this number- 94.47 million- from the current extreme poverty figure- 94.6 million. It revealed that about 150,000 Nigerians have become extremely poor; between October 7, 2019, and November 1, 2019. This means, about 6,250 people on average, fell into poverty daily- within the period.

So, what does all this mean?

At this rate, the population of Nigeria’s indigents would rival in size the United Kingdom, Germany, France, or even Italy. More so, Nigeria currently has more extremely poor people than China and India combined; even more than the entire population of South Africa (58.55 million) and Ghana (30.42 million) combined.

Meanwhile, several strategies are still being proffered to salvage this mess. A World Economic Forum (WEF)’s report suggested that Nigeria invested in girls’ education, health and wellbeing; as well as expand economic opportunities and embrace technology. Andrew Nevin, Chief Economist- PwC-  also suggested the economy leveraged N170 trillion (dead capital) in her possession to grow the economy by 6-8% annually.


Apparently, the minister’s notion with respect to living conditions in Nigeria is true. However, her figures were inaccurate; there are at least 4.62 million more extremely poor people in Nigeria than she claimed. This understated number cannot be ignored because it’s larger than the entire population of some states of the federation. Nonetheless, time will tell as to what strategies the Minister’s department are to employ to justify their budgetary allocation.

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