Former Vice-President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections, Atiku Abubakar, has said that the greatest threat to national security was the rising wave of poverty that has remained unchecked among Nigerians.
In his reflection on the state of the nation, Atiku observed that the most dangerous dimension to the poverty ravaging the country was that the financial capacity of industrialists, businessmen and factory owners, who provide employment to the teeming youths, was also drastically reducing.
Atiku said there was an urgent and compelling need for institutions of the Nigerian State to understand that it is an appalling dereliction of duty to stand idly by and allow misery multiply in the populace.
In a statement by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, the former Vice President noted that the recent report by the United Nations Development Programme, published on July 11, 2019, which established that over 98 million Nigerians were living in multidimensional poverty, was a frightening corroboration that poverty had become the fastest growing venture in Nigeria in the last four years.
Specifically, Atiku lamented the drastic reduction in the wealth of employment providers, noting that the situation was no longer a grassroots problem and was a confirmation that the failure of the nation’s economy over the last four years affected everyone from top to bottom.
“Four years ago, Aliko Dangote, Nigeria’s richest man, was worth $25 billion. However, his net worth in 2019 is less than half of that. He joins thousands of industrialists whose wealth and their ability to produce, has eroded in recent years, and continue to do so.
“With the National Bureau of Statistics reporting a net job loss of over six million since 2015, we see that if industrialists have their wealth eroding, it affects their ability to create opportunities, which means that the trickle-down effect gradually dries,” he said.
The ex-VP stressed further: “The greatest national security threat Nigeria faces in 2019 is not Boko Haram/ISWAP or bandits. It is that we have created the largest wave of poverty in human history. And the world is noticing, hence Foreign Direct Investment is shifting from Nigeria to Ghana, making Ghana the top recipient of FDI in West Africa in the last year.”
And in the wake of the UNDP report, Atiku is saddened by the nonchalance of those he alleged led the country into the supposed poverty crisis.
He said: “It is as though they think that as long as they and their families are not amongst those 98 million extremely poor Nigerians, things can carry on as before. But that cannot be allowed to be the case.”
Atiku therefore called on all stakeholders who have the ability, including the Council of State, all former leaders, elder-statesmen, and especially the other arms of government, to “begin to collaborate for solutions, before the number increases from 98 million, to all 198 million Nigerians.”
“We must remember that we are stakeholders in the Nigerian project. Stakeholders who must speak up for those 98 million people who are losing their voices to poverty,” he added.