Contributing Factors to Poverty in Nigeria

Causes of Poverty in Nigeria

In this post, we take a look at some of the causes of poverty in Nigeria. We identify six major factors that contribute to the high incidence of poverty in the country. These factors are interdependent and they include; corruption, dependence on oil revenue, non-functional education system, unemployment, laziness, and income inequality.


According to the World Development Report 2000/2001, poverty has various dimensions which include a lack of opportunity, a lack of empowerment and a lack of security.

Poor people lack opportunity; lack empowerment; and lack security. Their lack of opportunity renders them inactive in the society; their lack of empowerment limits their choices; and their lack of security makes them vulnerable to violence, diseases, etc.

Furthermore, the United Nations views poverty as a lack of basic capacity to function in society. Poverty is when one is sick but is unable to get healthcare because he lacks enough money; when a person is unable to provide food and clothing for oneself and his family, when a person is unable to pay school fees for his children; when a person lacks job from which he earns a living, when a person is unable to access credit.

Poverty often implies lack of security; lack of power; susceptibility to violence, living on fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.

In the next section of this post, we consider some of the major factors contributing to [poverty in Nigeria.

Factors that Contribute to Poverty in Nigeria

1. Unemployment:

Unemployment remains one of the most significant factors that contribute to poverty in Nigeria. Unemployment breeds poverty because when people lack jobs (are unemployed), their source of livelihood depletes over time.

Many young graduates in Nigeria are unemployed. Formal education, which in the past was the surest gateway to employment, no longer guarantees an employment.

Due to the inability of government to provide jobs, many graduates in Nigeria wander the streets without gainful employment. The unemployed fail to get income with which they can provide for themselves and their families.

Poverty resulting from unemployment has increased crime rate and violence in the country since most unemployed youths turn to crimes such as internet fraud, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, etc.

2. Corruption:

The term ‘corruption’ refers to the abuse of power for private gain. Due to official corruption, public funds are being misallocated and misappropriated on a daily basis by the leaders.

Politicians continue to embezzle and misappropriate funds that ought to be used for the provision of infrastructure for the public. This has crippled the economy and has rendered the people unproductive.

The federal government gets revenue mainly from crude oil sale; however, his income finds its way into private pockets of political office holders and their families.

Over the years, political leaders have mismanaged and embezzled public funds, ignoring the well-being of Nigerians. Indeed, corruption and bad governance has worsened poverty in Nigeria.

3. Over-dependence on Oil:

The non-diversification of the Nigerian economy is another major factor responsible for poverty in the country.

Before the discovery of oil in commercial quantities, the Nigerian economy depended on agriculture. However, the oil sector constitutes more than 90 percent of the country’s export revenue.

Political leaders and policy makers have ignored other sources of income; consequently, today Nigeria depends almost entirely on exporting oil.

Considering Nigeria’s abundance of a natural resource, the wealth from natural resources in Nigeria ought to translate to infrastructures and better standard of living.

Unfortunately, in Nigeria, the resource wealth has led to crisis and conflict as evidenced by the Niger-Delta crises.

The problem with over-dependence on oil is that if oil price crashes, as it often does, Nigeria’s revenue reduces drastically and Nigeria’s external debt increase drastically.

4. Poor Education System:

Functional education can play an important role in poverty reduction. A functional education promotes economic growth, national productivity and innovation, and values of democracy and social cohesion.

It is important to note that schooling is not the same thing as education. Most graduates form Nigerian universities lack functional education.

An education that fails to equip learners with skills they need to succeed in life is not a functional. This is the reason many graduates are unproductive and many lack skills required for gainful employment.


In this article, we outlined some of the causes of poverty in Nigeria. These factors are related to each other and also interact to enforce each other. For example, people without education lack the opportunity of getting good jobs, and the poor today still are unable to go to school which makes them the poor unemployed masses tomorrow.

  1. There is the need to address the issue of widespread corruption in the country. This will enhance governance and facilitate the provision of infrastructures which supports production. Some of these infrastructures include electricity, roads, etc.
  2.  There is the need to diversify the Nigerian economy. There is the need to make more investments in agriculture, mining, tourism, and other promising sectors of the economy.


Research Cyber Team hopes this article was helpful. For your research project (both under-graduate and post-graduate), term-paper, report, or article; kindly call Thompson – 0703 022 8325. Regards!

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