Nigerian is one of the largest countries in West Africa stretching over 923,768 square kilometers. It is most populated nation in Africa with a population exceeded 152 million people according to the According to the National census statistics of 2008. In accord to report by The World Development Report 2000/2001 by World Bank, the aspect of poverty has heightened due to lack of empowerment, lack of opportunity and a lack of security. Approximately 71% of the population is languishing in poverty. The key factors that have been cited to case high poverty levels in Nigeria are unemployment, corruption and non-diversification of the economy. These factors have also led to destitution or poor housing standard and violence due to increased drug use and dealing. It is thus wise to look at the key causes and effects of poverty in Nigeria.

Causes of Poverty in Nigeria

Weak economy due to overdependence on oil exports

Over years, Nigeria has become a renowned oil manufacturer and it contributions on export sector rose from 1% in 1958 to more than 97% in 2008. About 81% of government revenue and 17% GDP was obtained thanks to oil and natural gas. The government has overlooked other sources of economy and concentrated on oil extraction and thus has led to the country’s poor economy.


Corruption is a vice that is not exceptional in Nigeria. In fact, it has led to weakening of political systems of the country. There are many corrupt leaders in the government who misuse government funds to enrich themselves and their allies and overlooking the taxpayers who are the poor people.


Unemployment and poverty levels correlate. Unemployment rate is approximately 4.9% and Nigeria has been ranked among the bottom 100 countries with the highest unemployment rates in the world. The government has failed to offer job opportunities to the people, hence the higher poverty levels.

Inequality levels

There is a wide gap in incomes among the poor and the rich. Rural population is languishing in poverty as here is where population is concentrated. In contrast, the urban population earns more income, has better education and enjoys rampant opportunities.

Poor Education System and laziness

Education contributes a lot to the growth of economy. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s education system is deprived as compared to other nations in the world. Most of the citizens cannot access the best education and many remain illiterate and lazy. Lack of education has led to the falling economic status, hence increased poverty levels.

Effects of Poverty in Nigeria

Homelessness, substandard housing and prostitution

Poverty comes with diverse effects such as lack of good shelters and homes. Most of the homes have substandard facilities and many families are not able to support themselves. This has pushed women and young girls to indulge in prostitution as way of escaping reality and earning a living.

Violence and high crime rates

Lack of jobs has pushed many youths in Nigeria to indulge in violence and crime. Robbery, internet fraud and kidnapping have become the preferred ways of many youths of earning a living.

Diseases and high mortality rates

Poor housing facilities and increased growth of slums have led to spread of diseases and deaths. Most of the families living in slums cannot afford good medical facilities and many other health care services.

Early marriage and family breakups

Many families languishing in poverty marry off their young girls in order to get certain amount or products in the process. Most of the girls are married at tender age and tend to feel dissatisfied with time and many end-up in break-ups or divorce due to increased poverty.


Public workers who earn meager wages tend to indulge in open corrupt activities in order to meet their family’s day to day needs. On top of this, public servants also rely on rich clients or citizens to get certain funds and let them continue with illegal activities.


Nigeria is in the front-line among countries that have large population suffering in poverty. This has led to a deteriorating economy that will take many years to revive. Factors such as corruption, poor education, laziness, lack of jobs and inequality levels among others have contributed vastly to the high levels of poverty. Poverty comes in handy with effects such as homelessness and poor housing structures, violence and increased crime rates, early marriages, increased corruption rates, poor health and high mortality rates and drug abuse among other effects.