1.1 Background to the Study
The concern about poverty world wide dates back to 1944 when the International Labour Organization (ILO) in its historic Philadelphia declaration drawn up after the second world war, stated that “poverty anywhere constitutes a threat to prosperity”. It was this declaration that necessitated the crusade for poverty alleviation world wide especially in the united states of America, where some segment of the society were identified as being in generally poor state of health and suffering from inadequate diet and poverty (Denis and Williams, 1973).
Overtime, it has been discovered that reducing the menace of poverty remains one of the most difficult challenges facing most countries of the world especially the developing countries where on the average about 67,000 people join the legion of the poor on a daily basis, representing about 25 million every year (Okonkwo, 1998:24).
Nigeria just like many other sub-saharan African countries is neck deep in poverty. The country is characterized by declining per capital incomes, increasing hunger, rising unemployment and environmental degradation. Despite all the various efforts made by various government in Nigeria, to improve the lots of the people through the various poverty alleviation or eradication policies and programme, it is evident that the proportion of people at poverty level has continued to increase. For example, the figure increased from 27% in 1980 to 46% in 1985, it declared slightly to 42% in 1992 and increased very sharply to 66% in 1996. By 1999, estimate had it that more than 70% of Nigerian were living below the poverty line (National Planning Commission, 2004: 28).
In the words of Farnsworth (1990), the problem of poverty in Africa (Nigeria inclusive) does not lie in the quality of individuals aspirations or mental and entrepreneurial endowments but with the structure of African society and its economy. Poverty is a crucial matter in Africa since its inhabitants not only began their independence from an extremely low level of economic and social development but are the only people whose situation is expected to worsen in the coming years.
Specifically, in Nigeria today, more than 70% of a population of about 150 million people lives below the poverty line (Gbosi and Omoke, 2004). In recent years, the eradication of poverty has become major goals of Nigerian economic policy. People have become increasingly aware of the great difference that exists in the economic and social circumstances of the people in Nigeria. And some Nigerians have begun to ask whether Nigeria is really the land of opportunity. Throughout most of the Nigerian history, poverty was regarded as a reflection of personal inadequacy and people were expected to pull themselves out of poverty.
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POLITICS OF POVERTY REDUCTION IN NIGERIA: A STUDY OF THE ACTIVITIES OF EBONYI STATE COMMUNITY POVERTY REDUCTION AGENCY (EB-CPRA) IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA