Not getting better, Nigeria edition

According to the BBC, poverty Nigeria (used $1 a day threshold) has risen by 6.2 percentage points in the past 8 years.

The NBS admitted there was a paradox at the heart of Nigeria, as the economy was going from strength to strength, mainly because of oil production, yet Nigerians were getting poorer.

What isn’t clear yet (I’ve yet to see the report – would be helpful if someone else wants to comment) is whether or not the NBS’s analysis has any caveats which could be driving this story (differences in sampling, definitions of poverty) etc. I’m also assuming the data was constructed prior to the very recent price hike.

These concerns aside, good god – Nigeria’s been growing at around 6% a year for the past few years and is rich enough to be considered lower-middle income. I think I just felt a disturbance in the force, one shaped like Andy Sumner.

Bride price decomposition

An e-mail from a friend working in southern Nigeria breaks down everything that goes into the bride price a colleague is paying:

The list itself contains all manner of things including drinks, watches, cloths for her mum and dad, clothes for her, a separate bride price (50,000 N – the tradition used to be 30n, but getting married is a dangerously expensive business these days), food, alcohol, a goat, a 3 day party for her parents village (somewhere in the middle of nowhere) so all the usual stuff you would expect, apart from 1 item which stood out above all the rest, 5,000N which will apparently guarantee that the bride will not flirt with any other men!

We must be doing something right

I’ve been making my way through Chinua Achebe’s The Education of a British-Protected Child, and stumbled upon this gem:

In 1976, U.S. relations with Nigeria reached an all-time low in the face of a particularly clumsy American handling of the Angolan-Cuba-South African issue. Henry Kissinger, whose indifference to Africa bordered on cynicism, decided at last to meet Joseph Garba, the Nigerian foreign minister, at the United Nations. In a gambit of condescending pleasantness, Kissinger asked Garba what he thought America was doing wrong in Africa. To which Garba replied stonily: “Everything!” Kissinger’s next comment was both precious and, I regret to admit, true. He said: “Statistically that is impossible. Even if it is unintentional, we must be doing something right.”

Portraying Lagos

A BBC documentary is accused of poverty porn by a Nigerian Nobel laureate:

Speaking to the Guardian, Professor Soyinka said that Welcome to Lagos, the BBC2 observational documentary which follows various people in poor areas of the city, was “the most tendentious and lopsided programme” he had ever seen.

The series of three programmes, which concludes tomorrow, follows groups of people living in three impoverished areas: a rubbish dump, the Lagos lagoon and the city’s beach area. The narration from the black British actor David Harewood overtly praises their resourceful resilience.

Go on.

The 75-year-old [Soyinka], who splits his time between the US and his home outside Lagos, added: “There was no sense of Lagos as what it is – a modern African state. What we had was jaundiced and extremely patronising. It was saying ‘Oh, look at these people who can make a living from the pit of degradation’.

“One could do a similar programme about London in which you go to a poor council estate and speaking of poverty and knifings. Or you could follow a hobo selling iron on the streets of London. But you wouldn’t call it Welcome to London because that would give the viewer the impression that that is all London is about.”

UK residents can watch the show on BBC iPlayer here.