“I eat anything I see,” says Abdul Edosa, 30, as he sits under the bridge in the sprawling Nigerian commercial metropolis of Lagos, where he sleeps. “I beg money from people — anything they give me, I eat.”
Edosa’s is a familiar voice in the country with the world’s largest number of extremely poor, which the United Nations defines as living on less than $1.90 a day. The estimated figure now is 87 million people, or almost half the population of Africa’s biggest oil producer, and unless something dramatic happens, it’s going to get much bigger.
While poverty in India, which has five times the population, is declining, the number of destitute in Nigeria is believed to be growing by six people every minute, according to a recent paper from The Brookings Institution. The UN expects its population to double to 410 million by 2050, potentially swelling the ranks of the poor.
Edosa usually passes his nights with a handful of men and women on makeshift wooden beds under the bridge in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos state. Police trying to chase them away are a constant menace. A high-school dropout who did a stint as a television-repair apprentice, he now heads off each morning to look for odd jobs at building sites or hits the streets to beg.
In Nigeria, six people fall into extreme poverty every minute https://t.co/wxX6ft5rEK
— Bloomberg Africa (@BBGAfrica) February 22, 2019