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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala 'defends' ranking of Nigeria as one of world's extreme poor countries

03/04/2014 18:26

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance, has taken time to shed light on the World Bank’s rating of Nigeria as one of the world's "extremely poor countries", explaining that it was based on the large number of poor people living in the country.

Okonjo-Iweala made the clarification when she interacted with newsmen in Abuja on Thursday.

Okonjo-Iweala, a former employee of the World Bank explained that the number of poor people in a country irrespective of the country’s level of development was the parameter used to rate Nigeria among nations with high poverty level.

She explained that the phenomenon of large number of poor people is peculiar with middle-income countries which Nigeria belonged to.

"India is a middle-income country, one of the largest economies in the world like Nigeria, is a big economy, but the largest number of poor people in the world reside in India, China and other places.

"Most middle-income countries, including Brazil have large number of poor people that is the reality of today and Nigeria is no exception.

"And when the World Bank president was talking he also talked about those countries. He mentioned that India is doing well and it has a large number of poor people," she said. "So, we should not try to single Nigeria out. The phenomenon we have in Nigeria is that we are growing but there are poor people everywhere."

She stressed the need to focus on the answers to the problem raised by the World Bank and what other countries were doing that Nigeria could learn from so as to improve.

She said, "Nobody says that everything is fine but we are learning and where we make some progress like other countries, we should also acknowledge it.

"President Goodluck Jonathan has mandated four or five of the ministers to work together to formulate a social safety programme to be implemented for the benefit of the citizens.

"The Federal Government is making efforts in different areas of the nation’s economy to reduce poverty and improve living standards of the people."

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