Nigeria’s President Buhari Sets Up Council to Boost Growth, Cut Poverty

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari established a new team to work on boosting growth and reducing poverty in Africa’s biggest economy.

The so-called National Council on Poverty Reduction will lead the implementation of a strategy that seeks to accelerate economic growth and lift at least 100 million people out of poverty by 2030.

“This ambitious program is a challenging one, but one that can be achieved,” Buhari said Tuesday after receiving a report on poverty reduction from the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, or PEAC. The strategy is to be approved at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday in the capital, Abuja.

Africa’s most populous country exited its second recession in four years in the fourth quarter of 2020, with economic growth of 0.1%. The economy shrank 1.9% last year, the biggest contraction in more than two decades.

Economic growth has lagged behind population growth rates every year since Buhari came to power in 2015, leading to a decline in average income per capita.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic will push 20 million more Nigerians below the poverty line by 2022, according to the World Bank. About 80 million of the country’s population are classified as extremely poor, the highest number of any nation.

Buhari has previously said he plans to use the country’s vast farmland resources to drive poverty-reduction initiatives. Only 2% of productive land is under irrigation in Nigeria.

Africa’s largest crude producer plans to raise agricultural output to reduce the nation’s dependence on oil, which accounts for 90% of export income and about half of government revenue. It will also cut economic disparities between Nigeria’s states, ensure macro-economic stability and promote industrialization, PEAC Chairman, Doyin Salami, said.

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