Forty percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line: Report

Forty percent of people in Nigeria live in poverty, figures published by the statistics office on Monday showed, highlighting the low levels of wealth in a country that has Africa’s biggest economy.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a report about poverty and inequality from September 2018 to October 2019, said 40 percent of people in the continent’s most populous country lived below its poverty line of 137,430 naira ($381.75) a year. It said that represents 82.9 million people.

Nigeria is the top oil exporter in Africa, which has helped to create wealth related to crude sales that account for more than half of government revenue. But a failure to diversify the economy and build much-needed transport and power infrastructure has stymied growth and the spread of wealth beyond a rich elite.

Rapid population growth outstrips economic growth, which stands at about 2 percent. The United Nations estimates that Nigeria will have a population of 400 million by 2050.

Nigeria was already struggling to shake off the effect of a 2016 recession before the new coronavirus pandemic hit economies worldwide.

“In Nigeria, 40.1 percent of total population were classified as poor. In other words, on average four out of 10 individuals in Nigeria has real per capita expenditures below 137,430 naira ($352) per year,” it said.

The statistics office said it did not include Borno, the state worst hit by the decade-long Boko Haram armed uprising, because many areas there were not safe to reach.

A total of nearly eight million people need humanitarian assistance across Borno and two neighbouring states affected by the attacks, according to the UN.

The statistics office said 52 percent of people in rural areas live in poverty, compared with 18 percent in urban parts of the country.

It said the highest poverty levels were in the northwest state of Sokoto, where 87.7 percent of people live under the poverty line compared with 4.5 percent in commercial hub Lagos state, which had the lowest rate.

Domestic violence is the ‘other’ pandemic we must fight

Before the global lockdown, most governments did little to combat gender-based violence. While almost every government would express their commitment to ending it, announcing a slew of policies and plans, most were quickly abandoned, landing with a dull thud on the floors of parliaments and presidential offices the world over.

The grim reality is that in the face of the hyperbolic kumbaya of campaigns to end violence against women, half of the women killed worldwide are murdered by men who are intimately known to them: their boyfriends, partners, uncles, fathers, brothers, friends.

One of the main reasons for the failure of states to address domestic violence, in my view, is because the lofty campaigning and high-level promises lack detailed and properly funded interventions.

In a strange twist, however, the global lockdown has seen a type of intervention in domestic violence cases that is most unusual. For the first time, a handful of states are creating, funding and implementing some very clever steps to help women locked in abusive homes. These include secret codes in pharmacies – the now-not-so-secret mask-19 request as a signal that one is being abused. The significant budget allocation to shelters and specialist police units; online applications for protection orders; prioritising complaints of child abuse in the court systems; emergency warning systems in grocery stores; funding hotel rooms for victims who need to escape violent homes; and pop-up counselling centres.

The question, of course, is why governments could not do this before the virus.

One reason the lockdown has triggered these interventions is that governments are in crisis mode. They are having to look at the COVID-related consequences for all social ills, such as access to housing and food security, especially for children. It is the global calamity and the effect that this has on society as a whole, that has led to these effective, innovative interventions. But these interventions have always been necessary, and will continue to be necessary post-lockdowns. This is because for so many women, leaving an abusive relationship is not a choice.

Another answer is because the complaints of domestic violence have increased since the lockdown, in some countries by as much as 50 percent. Women are forced to remain at home because of the lockdown and do not have recourse to regular points of assistance.

This suggests that before the lockdown, women could escape abusive relationships. This is not correct.

While it appears that abused women have the freedom to leave, flight is often a fallacy. At times, victims of intimate violence quite literally are imprisoned and held against their will. Abusers also implement a more subtle procession of isolating factors: the abuser may control the daily activities of the abused and prevent her from visiting family, friends or neighbours; he may threaten to kill or harm her children if she leaves. Escape may also precipitate escalated violence against the woman or her children. The abuser may also threaten to take away her children or harm her family members, or work colleagues if she reports the abuse.

While it is well known, it is worth remembering that the conflation of physical violence, mental manipulation and threats of harm, form a barrier to liberation that can be as restrictive as prison walls. In such circumstances, the victim’s “choice” to escape dissipates and, in reality, she is left with only one option: to stay. Women facing abuse have always locked down, in the same way we are now.

I will never forget, when I first started as a human rights lawyer more than 20 years ago, the story of one of my first clients. She could not consult in person and had lodged an emergency call for a lawyer to phone her back. She was very specific about the time to call; this was when her abuser would be out.

When we spoke, I explained the legal position: her rights; the duties of the police; the procedure to obtain a protection order; and the possible content of this type of order. After a long silence, my client told me she had been locked in the house for a year. She physically could not get to the police or the courts. The police refused to come to her.

Another survivor told me her abuser warned that if she went to court, he would kill her. Another told me he would make sure she never saw her children again. Another survivor spoke of the horror she felt when her abuser welcomed her to go to the police because he himself was a member of the police force and knew that his peers would take no action against him.

But let us assume that somehow these barriers are overcome and a complainant reports the abuse to the police.

And let us assume that the police believe her and do not tell her that all women lie.

And let us assume that the case will go to court and be allocated to a judge as a matter of urgency.

And let us assume that her employer will give her time off to go to court.

And let us assume that the matter is not postponed.

Let us make all of these loaded assumptions and envisage the complainant walking into a courtroom, one of the most intimidating locations. And there she sees her abuser, the person who has beaten, raped, humiliated and threatened her. All the pain and fear needs to be overcome and somehow she must be able to give evidence to strangers about the most personal and intimate trauma. And she must do so in a way that makes her be a “good witness”. She must be self-assured, and confident about the details of the violence and the harm. And most often, she must do this in a room where the majority of people are men.

And all of this assumes that during this process the complainant has a safe place to stay with her children. This scenario, and all of the underlying assumptions, are predicated on the practical need of the complainant to be safe. Most countries have limited shelters and few are actually government-funded. Many shelters are not able to accept women with teenage male children (understandably) but what do such women do?

So when a politician says “we commit to ending domestic violence” and does not fund places of safety that respond to the different circumstances of different women, then their verbosity withers away into the morass of institutionalised discrimination that fails women repeatedly.

For as long as we have a justice and law enforcement system that is beset with constant and insidious barriers for women to be safe, then we really should be wary of campaigning jargon. We will never “eliminate” gender-based violence if there is impunity for those who commit the crime and no accountability for state actors who fail to act in accordance with laws designed to protect such women.

One must ask why it took a pandemic to focus leaders’ minds on another pandemic (gender-based violence) and the gritty detail of interventions that will actually work for victims. I speculate that one of the reasons is that suddenly, there is a universal understanding of what it means to be locked down at home. We are, in other words, closer to understanding the terror of enforced insulation than ever before.

I hope very much that these innovations do not end with the cessation of states’ lockdowns. All of the mechanisms introduced for COVID-19 would be effective post lockdown. They provide places of safety, accelerated court dates, counselling, coded calls for help. These are all needed irrespective of whether one is trapped because of a lockdown or effectively trapped by the abuse.

For, in the quagmire of disquieting fear and uncertainty, there is one indisputable fact: The lockdowns may end but violence against women will not.

And for those who suspect this is hyperbole, let me assure you that one in three women reading this article will nod their heads in understanding.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

Doctor’s Note: How can we help victims of abuse during lockdown?

“Stay home, stay safe, save lives.” This is the motto being used by the United Kingdom’s government to make us do our bit to get through the lockdown.

But what if staying at home wasn’t safe and was potentially a far worse outcome for you than contracting COVID-19?

For many, lockdown came as a relief. It was a necessary measure taken to protect us and to try and control the spread of this pandemic. For a significant number of people, however, the lockdown has brought more misery to their lives.

In the UK, calls to national domestic abuse helplines have risen by 49 percent in the last six weeks. This has been mirrored across Europe; France showed a 30 percent increase, and Spain saw an 18 percent increase in calls during the first two weeks of lockdown. In Wuhan, China a police station reported a 300 percent increase in calls during the height of the crisis there. This is alarming.

As a general practitioner (GP), I see many cases of domestic abuse. It is never stated as the reason a patient comes in to see me, of course, but rather something I tease out during a consultation.

Often patients will attend with a common ailment and it is only when I have gone to examine them that I find evidence suggestive of abuse.

Signs to look out for are bruises, being more withdrawn, having no financial freedom, not being able to leave the house without their abuser, or admitting to having all their technology monitored, such as calls, messages and social media.

Domestic abuse is not just physical – it includes coercive control and “gaslighting”, economic abuse, online abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.

Victims of domestic abuse are highly vulnerable and often rely on opportunistic recognition of the issue by somebody else, be it a friend, neighbour, colleague or doctor. Being able to read the verbal and non-verbal cues from victims is essential, as well as giving them space and support to make decisions about how they wish to proceed.

During lockdown, people have been forced into spending more time indoors with their families and have nowhere to go to for respite.

Stress levels are at an all-time high as people’s mental health progressively deteriorates as the weeks go by. In the context of domestic abuse, the perpetrators may no longer need to worry about their victims’ bruises being seen by others as they are in isolation.

The result of this is a spike in the number of cases of abuse.

In the UK, as school closures were announced, the first measure taken was to keep schools open for vulnerable children in order to keep them safe. The government identified these children as those on the child protection or social care registers, as well as those with special learning needs. We know, however, that not all children at risk of abuse during this time will be in these groups, and worryingly, only five percent of these eligible children have actually attended school.

Due to social distancing, our medical clinics have all turned to offering consultations predominantly via phone and videoconferencing. We are therefore missing those physical windows of opportunity in which to speak in confidence to our patients.

This means a caller who is a victim of abuse may not be able to open up because the consultation could be being monitored and controlled by the perpetrator of the abuse. We cannot examine them, which means we are likely missing all the cues we would normally pick up on in person.

Refuge, the UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, reported a phenomenal 700 percent increase in calls to its helpline in a single day following the start of the lockdown. The number of victims who have died from domestic abuse has also increased significantly in comparison to years before.

It is important to bear in mind that it is not just women and children who are at risk of domestic abuse. Male victims of abuse have also been calling for help in greater numbers, with the Men’s Advice Line in the UK seeing calls rise 35 percent in the first week of lockdown.

Some elderly people who are very vulnerable, or those with disabilities, may also be in lockdown with carers who are abusive.

A new development in recent weeks has been from teenagers lashing out at parents because they want to go out. Parents of children with disabilities and learning needs are also facing high levels of pressure and abuse at home as some children can become aggressive at times.

The UK government is increasing funding to support helplines and online services and has also called for more “safe spaces” to be rolled out where victims can access help.

One of the UK’s largest pharmacies, Boots, has just opened these spaces up and offered a place where victims can contact specialist services for support and advice, no questions asked. This is a great intervention as pharmacies work closely with GP practices so this will help in keeping the channels of communication open between patients and their doctors.

This lockdown is a testing time for everyone, and frustration levels are high, but none of this can excuse causing harm to another person.

We must be able to feel safe in our personal spaces and it is the duty of all to help bring this to an end for the victims.

Nigerians take to streets to protest against sexual violence

Human rights campaigners have rallied in Nigeria’s capital to raise awareness about violence against women after a series of high-profile rape cases sparked an outcry in the country.

More than 200 protesters marched around police headquarters in Abuja, chanting slogans and holding banners that read “Justice for all Nigerian girls and women” and “No means no”.

It was one of many activities planned by campaigners to call attention to the issue and urge politicians to allocate more funds to tackle sexual violence and ensure police independence.

The latest outpouring of anger has been unleashed by the cases of three women and girls who were killed or raped in incidents activists say showcase the widespread sexual violence in Nigeria.

#JusticeForUwa has been one of the hashtags trending on social media in the last week after Vera Uwaila Omosuwa, a 22-year-old student, died two days after she was reportedly raped in a church in the southern city of Benin.

“Children are dying, women are dying, enough is enough,” Dorothy Njemanze, one of the protest organisers, was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Njemanze said she and other campaigners were “watching every step of everything they [politicians] say and do on sexual based violence”.

Nigeria’s most senior policeman has ordered the immediate deployment of additional investigators to specialist gender violence desks, a police statement said on Tuesday.

“This is to strengthen and enhance the capacity of the units to respond to increasing challenges of sexual assaults and domestic/gender-based violence linked with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and other social ills within the country,” it added.

Two other recent cases have also prompted people to express their anger using the #JusticeForJennifer and #JusticeForTina rallying cries.

In April, an 18-year-old known only as Jennifer was allegedly attacked and raped by a gang of five men in Kaduna, a city in northern Nigeria.

The case gained attention only after her relatives – scared the accused would escape justice – released a video online of family comforting the traumatised teen that was shared tens of thousands of times.

Now, local police say two men have been arrested for the rape and three other suspects are being sought.

Meanwhile, a 16-year-old high school student called Tina Ezekwe was shot and killed after police opened fire at a bus stop in Lagos, the country’s biggest city, during a nighttime coronavirus curfew.

After an outcry online, the police force said two officers had been arrested and were facing disciplinary action and possible prosecution.

Nigeria coronavirus: 13,464 cases; record 663 new cases; Kaduna ‘reopens’

Nigeria recorded its highest daily tally on Tuesday with 663 new cases as the case load hit 13,464 according to the NCDC.

In other developments, Kaduna State became one of the last states across the north to lift its strict lockdown which lasted 75 days. Governor Nasir el-Rufai announced the lifting of the measure on Tuesday evening.

Evacuations of Nigerians is set to restart, Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama announced on Monday. He disclosed that support from the Dangote Foundation had made it possible to restart after the move was suspended over logistical constraints.

Addressing the cost of evacuations at the Task Force briefing in Abuja, national coordinator Sani Aliyu said: ““At the moment as far as I know, only N169 million or so was spent by the ministry of foreign affairs on evacuation of Nigerians mainly on air accommodation.

“We have got about N22 billion that was released to the PTF and just to make it clear, the PTF is not a procuring body. At the moment, that is like 0.002% and the reason why we haven’t spent so much is because of the need for prudence in the first place.

A lot of MDAs are yet to do their procurement and a lot of MDAs are still using their 2020 budgets for their activities and as far as I am concerned, there is no problem here. We are in a pandemic situation so we are making sure that the resources we have are being used appropriately,” he said.

Members of one of Nigeria’s main medical unions say they will go on strike from Monday following frustration over pay and a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Inhumane and hopeless” is how the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors has described the situation for some medics in a strongly worded statement.

They are calling on their members to stop providing all medical services including emergency care and coronavirus treatment.

A nationwide strike will affect isolation centres where coronavirus patients are being treated as well as hospitals and other medical facilities. Resident doctors make up one of the largest percentage of healthcare workers in state-run specialist hospitals.

Doctor strike information by BBC Africa LIVE page

  • Confirmed cases = 13,464
  • Number of deaths = 365
  • Recoveries = 4,206
  • Active cases = 8,893

About COVID-19 Virus

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 Virus across the globe, there had be increase cases of infection on a wider range. There are cases of infections, recovery and death across the globe.

In addition to the above, myriads of misinformation has been on-going in the social spaces.  APIN is using this medium to provide reliable information for members of the public who follow APIN for their reliable public health information.  The covid-19 update page will from time to time receive updates from our media team to keep you updated on happenings around the world about covid-19 and preventive measures to keep you and your family safe.

What is CoronaVirus

Coronavirus disease known as COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus. It is linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold, however it is highly contagious. COVID-19 is termed pandemic due to the disease’s geographical spread.

How to contact the Virus

COVID-19 virus is transmitted through:

  • Direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person, generated through; coughing and sneezing.
  • Touching surfaces contaminated with the virus.


Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to that of flu (influenza) or common cold. This includes:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia or breathing difficulties.
  • More rarely, the disease can be fatal.

 Preventive measures

Although COVID-19 virus may survive on surfaces for several hours, simple disinfectants can also kill it. Preventive measures are:

  1. Frequent hand washing using soap and clean water or alcohol-based hand rub.
  2. Respiratory hygiene- practice respiratory etiquette (e.g. cover your cough or sneeze into a flexed elbow, then throw away the tissue into a closed bin).
  3. Avoid touching your face.
  4. Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms.
  5. Be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, causes and how it spreads.

Federal Government of Nigeria response and efforts so far.

The Government of Nigeria, through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) and Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) has been up to speed in coordinating the national response of COVID 19, since the first case was seen in Nigeria. Testing of suspected cases/Index, as well as contact tracing of Index and providing Government and the general public with timely updates on actions to reduce the risk of the virus’ escalation.

The country has also taken these steps:

  • Entry ban from high risk countries.- With effect from March 20. The restriction will apply to travelers from countries with more than 1,000 cases. These include; China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, the United States, Norway, UK, Netherlands and Switzerland.
  • Suspension of the issuance of visa on arrival to travellers from these 13 countries. All travelers returning from these countries prior to the restriction will be in supervised self-isolation, monitored by the NCDC and Port Health Services.
  • Closure of schools in Nigeria.
  • Other WHO recommended preventive measures – hand washing, social distancing etc. are advised.

Meanwhile, Lagos state which has the highest number of reported cases so far, has further advised civil servants in the state to work from home.

WHO (World Health Organization) response and efforts

WHO in a document; Critical preparedness, readiness and response actions for COVID-19- Interim guidance (latest updated copy- 22 March 2020) have detailed their expectations of  countries with respect to COVID-19.

 Several countries have demonstrated that transmission of COVID-19 from one person to another can be slowed or stopped, as such have saved lives and provided the rest of the world with more time to prepare in the event of any reported case –  Ready emergency response systems, increase capacity to detect and care for patients, ensure hospitals have the space, supplies, and necessary personnel and to develop life-saving medical interventions. WHO enjoins every country to take all necessary measures to slow further spread and to avoid their health systems becoming overwhelmed as a result of seriously ill patients with COVID19.

All countries are to increase their level of preparedness, alert and response to identify, manage, and care for new cases of COVID-19, accessing its risk and rapidly implementing the necessary measures at the appropriate scale to reduce both COVID-19 transmission and its economic, public and social impacts. The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID19 as released by WHO has four scenarios that countries can adapt as suitable:

  1. Countries with no cases (No Cases)
  2. Countries with 1 or more cases, imported or locally detected (Sporadic Cases);
  3. Countries experiencing cases clusters in time, geographic location, or common exposure (Clusters of cases).
  4. Countries experiencing larger outbreaks of local transmission (Community transmission).


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