Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been explaining how the World Bank arrived at its rating of Nigeria among the extreme poor nations of the world.
Fielding questions from journalists at a forum in Abuja, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala explained that the rating was based on the large number of poor people living in the country, a phenomenon she said was peculiar to middle income countries, including Nigeria.
“India is a middle income country, one of the largest in the world, like Nigeria, is a big economy but the largest number of poor people in the world resides in India and China and other places.
“Most middle income countries, even Brazil have large numbers of poor people. That is the reality of today, Nigeria is no exception”, she said.
She explained further, “Today, if you go to the Chinese, they will tell you ‘let us slow down about praising China’ because we still have a substantial number of poor people; Brazil the same, that is why they started the safety net programme in Brazil and that is what President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has asked four or five of his ministers to get together and try to build this platform.
“So we should not try to single Nigeria out. What we have to do is focus on what is the answer, what are other countries doing that we can also learn from and do. Nobody says that everything is fine but we are learning and where we make some progress like other countries, we should also acknowledge it.”
Other countries also rated by the World Bank group as extremely poor are India, China, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya.