1.1 Background of the Study
Poverty is scarcity of human basic needs or man’s inability to acquire his basic needs for existence due to scarcity of resources. Man’s basic needs are generally understood to include food, shelter and clothing. Therefore, when man is incapacitated to make provisions for his food, shelter and clothing, he is regarded as a poor person. Poverty could affect an individual, a group, a community or a nation. Undoubtedly, poverty with its detrimental tendencies has become a global problem and has also attracted global measures to combat it.
Poverty in Nigeria remains significant as many researches such as the work of Olatomide (2012) reveal that seventy (70) percent of Nigerians are living below the poverty line. Some of the causes of poverty have been identified as unemployment, illiteracy, ignorance, laziness, natural disasters, violence, and indiscipline. The high level of poverty in Nigeria alarms every sector in our society particularly the government as concerted efforts have been made by various administrations to annihilate this anomaly. This work appreciates the efforts of the Federal government which has introduced various poverty alleviation programs such as Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), Directorate for Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DEFRI), Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP), Poverty Eradication Programme (PEP) but it is glaring that the level of poverty is on the increase.
Interestingly, this paper discusses how poverty can be reduced among Nigerians in the light of the Old Testament patterns of poverty reduction. This implies that the all – important passages of the Old Testament recognized the presence of the poor and also addressed how they could be helped. In fact, the three divisions of the Old Testament: The Law, The Prophets and The Writings, present various principles which could also be employed in reducing poverty in Nigeria.
While references could be made to other passages of the Old Testament, the specific pericope under study is Deuteronomy 15:7-18. This pericope is considered appropriate for this discourse because it contains various sayings aimed at ensuring that the poor people were not neglected in the Old Testament times. The major finding of this work indicates that the high level of poverty among Nigerians can also be reduced if the principles of poverty reduction reflected in various Old Testament passages and specifically in Deuteronomy 15:7-18 were applied by both individuals and the society.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Existing problems are often thought to give birth to research. A meaningful research always aims at improving a condition or eliminating a difficulty. On this, Ituma (2013:1) restates that “a research is a systematic inquiry into the status quo with the aim of finding better ways of solving problems. The status quo might be dissatisfaction or a problem”. The problem which gave rise to this research is the high level of poverty among Nigerians. Poverty in Nigeria is characterized by hunger, homelessness, diseases, malnutrition, high child mortality rate, family disintegration, unemployment, human trafficking, child labour, kidnapping, killing, sexual assault, drug abuse, prostitution, and high mortality rate. Among others, this has been attributed to the problem of insecurity, corruption, and poor resource management.
The concerted effort of the government and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in fighting this problem is well appreciated. However, the thrust of this work is to present that in as much as the roles and contributions of the government in alleviating poverty is not in doubt, it is also verifiable that some other principles can reduce poverty to the barest minimum. Therefore, this work unequivocally asserts that there are salient contributions that the Old Testament passages can make in combating poverty in Nigeria.