Lessons from China


Bayo Onanuga: Chased into exile

By Bayo Onanuga

Chinese leader Xi Jinping celebrated taking 100 million of his people out of poverty today. In determining what constitutes poverty, the Chinese did not follow the Western mindset of earning a minimum of $1.90 a day, a marker set by the World Bank.

Rural China

Rural China

Rather, China defines extreme rural poverty as annual per capita income of less than 4,000 yuan ($620), or about $1.69 a day at current exchange rates.

The Chinese are more concerned, not about money, but about improving the quality of life for their people: turning a village of thatched huts into a modern town, with modern amenities, homes of concrete, providing healthcare, schools and jobs, transportation. I think the absence of those good things of life, defines poverty.

Rural China

It reminds me of the old debate between growth and development. A nation can have growth, without developing its people, like in the case of Nigeria. We have had rising GDP, even rising GNI in the oil boom years. They tell us we are the biggest economy in Africa. But we are also the poorest.

We had seen growth without an improvement in the quality of life of our people.

The reason Nigeria has earned the opprobrium of being the poverty capital of the world, a nation with the worst income inequality in the universe.

I will suggest our leaders learn from the Chinese, how they have migrated 100 million of their people out of poverty in eight years and transformed rural areas, now that President Buhari is talking about it and with the same figure in mind.

-Mr. Bayo Onanuga, managing director, editor-in-chief, TheNEWS and PMNEWS, writes from Lagos