Former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Muhammad Sanusi II, the emir of Kano, says Nigeria may remain the poverty capital of the world till 2050 and beyond. He said this at his honourary induction into the Sigma Club at the University of Ibadan during the weekend.
He said, “If every country continues its present trajectory, by 2050, 80 per cent of all the poor people in the world will live on the African continent. That is not the frightening thing. One half of this 80 per cent will be in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Two countries will account for 40 per cent of all the poor people in the world and Nigeria will therefore remain the poverty capital of the world.
“This is a country that has produced many great people. This is a country that has boasted of best professors, greatest intellectuals, and the most educated people. In 1960, the per capital income in Nigeria was higher than what it was in South Korea, and China. My father was the first ambassador of Nigeria to China in 1972.
“In 1972, he had to go to Hong Kong every two weeks to buy essential commodities because they were not available in Beijing. He could not find milk, sugar and cornflakes in Beijing; he had to go to Hong Kong in 1972, not 100 years ago. In 1974, when Deng Xiaoping started opening up in China, there were 700 million Chinese living in extreme poverty. Today, that number is down to only 30 million people in one generation. In 1974, China had only 8million university graduates.
“Today, China has more than 300 million university graduates, more than the entire population of the United States of America. Yet, China did not have direct foreign investments; in fact China stopped it. We talk about miracles, ancient miracles. I don’t like the word miracles because miracles are associated with angels with wings that you do not see, coming from the sky. The Chinese are human beings like us and they did it.
“When we say miracle, it sounds like something supernatural that has some certain powers to it. Every time you think about it, the only deficit we have is a policy deficit.”
Muhammadu Sanusi said the politics of 2019 is not interrogating the major issues affecting Nigeria today.
“We have elections in 2019, I read the papers, I look at the television, and listen to the discussions, who is talking about education? Who is talking about nutrition? Who is talking about basic health? As a country, what are our priorities? We don’t have enough money for education. We don’t have enough money for health. We don’t have enough money for nutrition.
“But we have N1trillion or N2trillion to spend on petroleum subsidies. Where is our sense of what is important, and where is our investment in the future? So, for all Nigerians, who care about this country, the real task before us is to know that we have 30 years on the outside in which we need to make sure that we do not become the poverty capital of the world, and slum of the world.”