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.
A Budget Historian, Tunji Ogunyemi has stated that Nigeria is extremely poor, because most graduates do not have the opportunities to showcase their talents.
Referring to World’s Bank ratings which classified Nigeria amongst the world’s poorest countries, he stated that it was normal for World Bank to categorize the country with the likes Bangladesh, India, China, as they are “extremely populous” countries of the world with citizens living below poverty level.
Speaking on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr. Ogunyemi noted that the oil economy is an “enclave economy” which isolates the ordinary Nigerian, “No Nigerian owns an oil well except for the government”, he added.
He said, “Nigeria has not been able to achieve much through our budget system because most of the resources we have go on consumption”, adding that at the federal level, about 30% of the money gotten from votes, have gone into creation of wealth or the maintenance of infrastructure, “the Federal Government cannot be doing all and expect the lower level government to have the responsibility and ability to turn the situation around.”
Mr. Ogunyemi further criticized the Federal Government for covering all the fields in terms of assess, revenue, funds, amongst others. In terms of job creations, he noted that the government should provide the necessary infrastructures that would help the private sector create jobs for the unemployed, he maintained that there had been a disconnect between the private sector and the public sector and advised that both sectors should work together.
“Poverty can be reduced in the country with the conscious effort of the government creating jobs for the youth” he noted.
The World Bank Group has rated Nigeria among the world’s extremely poor countries, promising to assist in ending what it called ‘extreme poverty’ in the nations.
Other countries that were also rated as extremely poor are India, China, Bangladesh, DR Congo, Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya.
At the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington on Wednesday, in advance of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, World Bank President, Dr Jim Yong Kim, stated that the global bank would deal with the extreme poverty in Nigeria and its counterparts in the coming years.
Ending Extreme Poverty By 2030
He said: “The fact is that two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor are concentrated in just five countries: India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you add another five countries, Indonesia, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya, the total grows to 80 per cent of the extreme poor.”
Dr Kim stressed that the World Bank Group would focus on Nigeria and other nine countries, but emphasised that the plan would not make other countries in the world to be ignored.
“We will have a strategy that ensures that no country is left behind, as we move toward the target of ending extreme poverty by 2030,″ he said.
The World Bank President also announced a series of measures aimed at strengthening the World Bank Group to better meet the evolving needs of clients, including a $100 billion increase in the lending capacity of the Bank’s lending arm for middle-income countries over the next decade.
According to Dr. Kim, this new innovations in financial management, and a boost in the institution’s ability to provide private sector support follows the record $52 billion replenishment of IDA, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, in December 2013.
Kim also outlined how the Bank was positioning itself to better achieve its goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity for the lowest 40 per cent in developing countries.
“We now have the capacity to nearly double our annual lending to middle-income countries from $15 billion to $26 to $28 billion a year. This means that the World Bank’s lending capacity will increase by $100 billion to roughly $300 billion over the next ten years.
“This is in addition to the largest IDA replenishment in history, with $52 billion in grants and concessional loans to support the poorest countries,” he said.
A group of 8 developing countries known as D8 Countries has advocated massive investment and training in ship building technology for effective trade cooperation.
The Secretary-General of the D8 Expert Working Group, Dr. Seyed Mousavi, made the suggestion at a meeting to deliberate on how to improve trade amongst member countries through shipping in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
Dr. Mousavi said that significant investment in the shipping sector is key to the achievement of socio-economic development for member countries.
Although a lot of efforts have been put in place to ensure easy transportation of goods and services among member countries, experts called for commitment from government in terms of investment and education.
While previous meetings on how to boost trade amongst member countries is said to have yielded positive results, top officials at the meeting, including the Minister of Transport, Idris Umar, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Martin Uhomoibhi believed that the implementation of pending policies could further improve its socio-economic development.
Members of the D8 countries are Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey. It is expected that recommendations made at this meeting will be fully implemented in the interest of member countries.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Andrew Pocock, has once again cleared the air on the controversy surrounding a proposed UK government’s bond on visa applicants from some countries, including Nigeria.
He clarified that, ‘the visa bond, as it is being called here, is not a £3,000 charge for a British visa. That is not the case, it is not going to happen now and it is not going to happen in the future. Visa fee, which is what you pay for a visa, will not go to £3,000 or anywhere near it.’
Pocock also explained that there are plans to influence the inflow of more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from British companies into Nigeria.
He said this after ringing the closing bell at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos.
The United Kingdom is reviewing its plan to introduce a £3,000 visa bond scheme.
“We have made it very clear to our government in London that there is concern about this. So, this is being reviewed and considered in London as we speak now.” he said
He further said the visa bond is yet to be approved and if even its approved it will only apply to a very minute number of the over 150, 000 Nigerians that will apply for UK visas.
He also said while there were security concerns in Nigeria, they were not overwhelming in many respects and could be managed.
He said the British government will not jeopardize diplomatic ties with Nigeria with any move that will call the relationship between both nations to question.
The British government had proposed a new scheme under which some visitors from six commonwealth countries, including Nigeria, would be asked to pay a £3,000 cash bond in return for visas that allows them to stay in the UK for up to six months.
Other countries include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Ghana.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru has stated that Nigeria has not received any communication on the plan by the British government to introduce £3,000 (about N750,000) fee as visa bond from visitors from Nigeria.
The Sunday Times of London reported that the Conservative government is planning to implement a pilot scheme that would target visitors from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Pakistan and India from November. The countries are considered as high risk of immigration abuse in the United Kingdom.
The Minister, who spoke at a news conference in Abuja on Monday, assured that when received, the proposed visa policy will be carefully studied to protect the interest of Nigerian citizens.
“Really, we have received no official communication from the U.K. government,” he said.
“When we receive communication from them, we will study whatever proposal they are trying to do but I can assure all Nigerians that President Jonathan’s government will defend the interest of Nigerians by whatever means it can.’’
Uk’s Home Secretary; Theresa May said the David Cameron administration is serious about cutting immigration and abuses of the system.
Visitors from 18 years of age and over would be compelled to hand over £3,000 from November for a six-month visit visa.
They will forfeit the money if they overstay in Britain after their visa has expired.
9000 Nigerians in Prisons Abroad
Beside the visa issue, the Minister expressed concern about the number of Nigerians in foreign prisons, many of whom, he noted, are on death row in Asia and pacific countries.
He said over 9000 Nigerians are currently serving prisons term abroad, with the largest number of 752 in the UK.
“Most of the remaining prisoners are concentrated in the Asia – Pacific region and a good number of them are on death row” he stated.
He however said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has entered transfer agreement with some of these countries.
“We are concluding Prisoners’ Transfer Agreement (PTA) with all those countries, such as United Kingdom, Thailand, Japan, China, Indonesia, Switzerland, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola and Hong Kong, so that we can bring home these Nigerians to complete their prison terms.
“I wish to seize this opportunity to appeal to members of different groups; the media, civil societies, religious groups, traditional rulers, etc, to join hands in the education of our youths in an enlightenment campaign against trafficking in drugs, in particular, and other social vices in general.
“This assignment should not be left alone to Governments at different levels to handle.’’
The Minister also revealed that Nigeria has acquired a total of N8billion foreign direct investment in 2012 following its bilateral ties with other countries.
Cyclone Mahasen started crossing Bangladesh’s low-lying coast on Thursday, bearing down on the ports of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, as tens of thousands of people huddled in shelters from a storm which the United Nations says threatens 4.1 million people.
Winds up to 60 mph lashed the coast and whipped up waves, with an expected 2.1 meters (seven feet) storm surge and heavy rain expected to cause widespread flooding.
“It started to cross and is approaching towards Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar coasts,” said a Bangladesh meteorological department official.
The storm first hit Khepupara on Bangladesh’s southern coast and was tracking northeast towards the two ports on the eastern coastline near Myanmar.
Eyewitnesses said low-lying coastal areas were covered in waist-deep water as the storm crossed and trees were uprooted and houses damaged. Two people were reported killed, one crushed by a falling tree and another as he made his way to a shelter.
Bangladesh raised its storm warning to seven, on a scale with a maximum of 10, as Mahasen approached one of the poorest countries in Asia.
The storm killed at least seven people and displaced 3,881 in Sri Lanka as it tracked across the Bay of Bengal towards Bangladesh.
A boat carrying Rohingya Muslims in neighboring Myanmar capsized at around midnight on Monday after hitting rocks off Pauktaw in Rakhine State while evacuating ahead of the storm. Official media said 42 people were rescued, but 58 were missing.
“The government has ordered the evacuation of about one million people from 15 coastal districts,” said the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“As per the latest storm trajectory, 4.1 million people have been identified as living in at risk areas in the districts of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar,” it said in its latest update.
The port in Chittagong, which has a population of about three million, and the airport in Cox’s Bazar were closed on Wednesday.
Meteorologists said Mahasen should weaken quickly into a tropical rain depression over land.
“Mudslides will also be a concern as the heavy rain spreads farther north and east on Thursday night and Friday into easternmost India and northern Myanmar,” said meteorologists at Accuweather.com storm forecasters.
“Pray to Allah”
Bangladesh has more than 1,400 cyclone-proof buildings on standby, but across its eastern border in Myanmar tens of thousands of people on the coast were sheltering in makeshift camps and huts made of timber and palm fronds.
In 2008, Cyclone Nargis killed up to 140,000 people in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy delta, south of the main city, Yangon.
The U.S.-based Tropical Storm Risk said Mahasen should track northeast after hitting Chittagong, missing Myanmar.
The Myanmar government had planned to move 38,000 internally displaced people, most of them Rohingya Muslims, by Tuesday but many have refused to relocate from camps in Rakhine State in the west of the country, afraid of the authorities’ intentions.
At least 192 people were killed in June and October last year in violence between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingyas, who are denied citizenship by the government in Myanmar and considered by many Buddhists to be immigrants from Bangladesh.
At a camp near the sea on the outskirts of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, several people told Reuters on Wednesday they would rather perish in the storm than evacuate.
“We arrived here last year because of the clashes between Rakhine and Muslims. I lost everything. Both my mother and my two young daughters died,” said Hla Maung, 38, a Muslim. “If the cyclone hits here, I will pray to Allah. Everyone here wants to die in the storm because we lost everything last year.”
Myanmar is a mainly Buddhist country but about 5 percent of its 60 million people are Muslims. They face a growing anti-Muslim campaign led by radical Buddhist monks. A Reuters Special Report found apartheid-like policies were segregating Muslims from Buddhists in Rakhine State.
Eight people were killed when a fire swept through a clothing factory in Bangladesh, police and an industry association official said on Thursday, as the death toll from the collapse of another factory building two weeks ago climbed above 900.
The fire, in an industrial district of Dhaka, comes amid global attention on safety standards in Bangladesh’s booming garment industry following the catastrophic collapse of Rana Plaza, on the outskirts of the city, in the world’s deadliest industrial accident since the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984.
“It is not clear to us how the accident happened, but we are trying to find out the cause,” Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told Reuters.
On Wednesday the Bangladesh government said it had shut down 18 garment factories for safety reasons following the April 24 collapse of Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories making clothes for Western brands. Six were cleared to re-open on Thursday after inspectors issued safety certificates.
Salvage teams were still pulling bodies from the rubble of the Rana Plaza complex in Savar, around 20 miles northwest of Dhaka, and on Thursday a spokesman at the army control room coordinating the operation said the number of people confirmed to have been killed had reached 912.
Roughly 2,500 people were rescued from the building, including many injured, but there is no official estimate of the numbers still missing.
The government has blamed the owners and builders of the eight-storey complex for using shoddy building materials, including substandard rods, bricks and cement, and not obtaining the necessary clearances.
Bangladesh’s garment industry, which accounts for 80 percent of the poor South Asian country’s exports, has seen a series of deadly accidents, including a fire in November that killed 112 people.
The latest fire, in an 11-storey building in the Mirpur industrial district, broke out at a factory belonging to the Tung Hai Group, a large garment exporter.
“The factory was closed and all the workers had left the premises an hour earlier,” said fire service official Bhazan Sarker.
A fire service official and BGMEA president Islam said the Bangladeshi managing director of the company and a senior police officer were among the dead. The others killed were friends and personal staff of the factory boss, officials said.
Tung Hai Group says on its website that it has more than 1,000 employees and its customers include major Western retailers including Britain’s Primark, and Inditex Group of Spain. It makes products including cardigans, jumpers and pyjamas.
Two Western retailers have promised to compensate families of garment workers killed while making their clothes in a Bangladesh factory building that collapsed last week in the country’s worst industrial accident.
The pledge from Britain’s Primark and Canada’s Loblaw came after the owner of the collapsed Rana Plaza was brought before a court in Dhaka on Monday, where lawyers and protesters chanted “hang him, hang him”.
At least 385 people were killed in the disaster, the latest incident to raise serious questions about worker safety and low wages in the poor South Asian country that relies on garments for 80 percent of its exports.
With almost no hope left of finding further survivors, heavy machinery has been brought in to start clearing the mass of concrete and debris from the site in the commercial suburb of Savar, about 30 km (20 miles) from the capital Dhaka.
Eight people have been arrested – four factory bosses, two engineers, building owner Mohammed Sohel Rana and his father, Abdul Khalek. Police are looking for a fifth factory boss, Spanish citizen David Mayor, although it was unclear whether he was in Bangladesh at the time of the accident.
There were angry scenes as Rana, a local leader of the ruling Awami League’s youth front, was led into court on Monday wearing a helmet and protective police jacket, witnesses said.
“Put the killer on the gallows, he is not worth any mercy or lenient penalty,” one onlooker outside the court shouted.
Rana, who was arrested on Sunday by the elite Rapid Action Battalion apparently trying to flee to India, was ordered to be held on remand for 15 days for interrogation.
Khalek, who officials said was named in documents as a legal owner of the Rana Plaza building, was arrested in Dhaka on Monday. Those being held face charges of faulty construction and causing unlawful death.
Bangladesh does carry out the death penalty for murder and for most serious categories of manslaughter.
About 2,500 people have been rescued from the wrecked building, which housed several factories on the upper floors, but hundreds of the mostly female workers who are thought to have been inside remain unaccounted for.
THIRD MAJOR ACCIDENT IN FIVE MONTHS
The collapse was the third major industrial incident in five months in Bangladesh, the second-largest exporter of garments in the world behind China. In November, a fire at the Tazreen Fashion factory in a suburb of Dhaka killed 112 people.
The industry employs about 3.6 million people, most of them women, some of whom earn as little as $38 a month.
Anger over the disaster has sparked days of protests and clashes. Many factories remained closed on Monday due to labor unrest and police used tear-gas to quell demonstrations.
Primark, which was supplied by one of the factories operating at Rana Plaza, said on Monday that it was working with a local NGO to help victims of the disaster.
“Primark will pay compensation to the victims of this disaster who worked for its supplier,” said the company, owned by FTSE 100-listed Associated British Foods.
“This will include the provision of long-term aid for children who have lost parents, financial aid for those injured and payments to the families of the deceased.”
Loblaw Companies Ltd, which had some of its Joe Fresh clothing line manufactured at Rana Plaza, said it too was offering compensation.
“We are working to ensure that we will deliver support in the best and most meaningful way possible, and with the goal of ensuring that victims and their families receive benefits now and in the future,” said spokeswoman Julija Hunter in an email.
Primark and Loblaw operate under codes of conduct aimed at ensuring products are made in good working conditions.
Spain’s fashion label Mango told its followers on Facebook at the weekend that it had not carried out a “social audit” of Mayor’s company Phantom-Tak, with which it had an unfilled sample order, but would have done so had it gone on to place a full order.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, said it was sending a high-level mission to Bangladesh in the coming days.
“Horror and regret must translate into firm action,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder in a statement. “Action now can prevent further tragedy.”
Officials in Bangladesh have said the eight-storey complex had been built on swampy ground without the correct permits, and more than 3,000 workers – most of them young women – entered the building on Wednesday morning despite warnings that it was structurally unsafe.
A bank and shops in the building closed after a jolt was felt and cracks were noticed on some pillars on Tuesday.