Top 10 Poorest States in Nigeria

The northern region of Nigeria has some of the poorest states in Nigeria and some of them are Sokoto, Gombe, and Jigawa. This does not mean that the South is completely free of being on the list. These poor states are mostly marred by low Gross Domestic Productivity, lack of basic amenities, percentage of people living under less than $1.90 a day, and even security challenges among others.

Other factors are geographic location, economic policies, limited access to resources, poor economic policies, inflation, unemployment, debt traps, and poor education. While considering all these, statistics have shown that about 86 million poor people (65%) live in the North and only about 47 million (35%) live in the South. Whatever the case, here is a list of the poorest states in Nigeria.

Which State is the Poorest in Nigeria?

1. Sokoto

  • Capital: Sokoto
  • GDP: ₦2.85 trillion ($7.06 billion)
  • Population: Over 3.6 million
  • Major Source of Revenue: Taxes

Sokoto State is the poorest in Nigeria. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) rated the northwest state at a 90.5% (over 0.409) poverty rate, making it an environment with the highest number of poor people in Nigeria. The report also has it that every 9 out of 10 people in the state is poor.

With its GDP of at least ₦2.85 trillion ($7.06 billion), Sokoto is not the poorest in terms of internally generated revenue. However, as earlier stated, the poverty ranking on this list cuts across different aspects, including education, wealth division, and debt trap.

In early 2023, the state was listed as one with the most borrowing amount in Nigeria; It’s buried in over N105.32 billion in debt. Another cause of the poverty in Sokoto may be related to its geographical location which is mostly rural. More so, the state is marred by the deadly scars of insecurity, poor economic policies, inflation, and of course the low turnout in education.

2. Bayelsa

  • Capital: Yenegoa
  • GDP: ₦4.63 (11.47)
  • Population: 2,000,000
  • Major Source of Revenue: Taxes

Second on the list of poorest states in Nigeria is the oil-rich Bayelsa. The state which has only about 2 million population and has the lowest number of local governments among other states is wrapped in the sad coils of poverty.

The proportion of poor people in the state is about 88.5% (0.401), only 2% short of the poverty percentage in Sokoto. Surprisingly, the state is ranked 10th in terms of GDP but the second highest local debtor among states in Nigeria at the time of this report. The state has recorded N146.37bn local debt.

One of the major contributing factors to the poverty in the state is the constant flooding which has left over 1.3 million people displaced.

3. Kebbi

  • Capital: Birnin-Kebbi
  • GDP: ₦1.80 trillion ($4.4 billion)
  • Population: 5.5 million
  • Major Source of Revenue: Taxes

Kebbi is the third poorest State in Nigeria and its poverty is mostly caused by the low level of education in the state. Others are low food security and healthcare.

Kebbi is also ranked at number 11 when it comes to the Nigerian States that harbor the poorest people. This state has about 0.385 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) and is known as one of the heaviest borrowers in Nigeria.

4. Jigawa

  • Capital: Dutse
  • GDP: ₦2.16 trillion ($5.35 billion)
  • Population: 7.4 million
  • Major Source of Revenue: Taxes

The National Bureau of Statistics put Jigawa as the fourth poorest state in Nigeria. One of the major causes of this is the underemployment rate.

It also lags in food security, nutrition, and education. Jigawa has 0.385 of multi-dimensionally poor children in Nigeria. This means that the State also shelters the poorest children in the country.

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Poorest States in Nigeria
MPI chart showing the poorest States in Nigeria

5. Gombe State

  • Capital: Gombe
  • GDP: ₦2.10 trillion ($5.20 billion)
  • Population: 3.9 million
  • Major Source of Revenue: taxes

Based on statistics, 7 out of 10 people are living in poverty in Gombe State, North-east Nigeria. Moreover, 74.6 percent of Gombe state residents are living in abject poverty.

The State’s GDP is about ₦2.10 trillion and this makes it the 10th state in Nigeria with the lowest GDP. Yet, it is one of the States with heavy borrowings. It has a debt of N139.32 billion.

Research carried out on the causes of poverty in Gombe shows that the major culprits are poor macroeconomic policies, corruption, mismanagement, low level of education, inequality, low level of income, attitude, low revenue generation capacity, and absence of welfare and social investment.

6. Yobe

  • Capital: Damaturu
  • GDP: ₦1.09 trillion ($2.70 billion)
  • Population: 3.6 million
  • Major Source of Revenue: Taxes

The poverty in Yobe is associated with a lack of basic amenities, low economic development, ethnic disparities, low education, and insecurity. The poverty rate of Yobe in is 0.37 MPI, making it the sixth in Nigeria. Also, the state is the lowest in terms of internally generated revenue, as it makes only about ₦1.09 trillion behind Kwara State.

7. Plateau State

  • Capital: Jos
  • GDP: ₦1.50 trillion ($3.71 billion)
  • Population: 4.7 million
  • Major Source of Revenue: Taxes

Plateau State has one of the lowest GDPs. It records about ₦1.50 trillion GDP and at the time of this report, the state is one of the highest local debtors, recording N149.01bn.

Despite the state’s wealth in terms of weather, geographical location, and food, it has a high poverty rating of 0.365 MPI. This makes it the only north-central state to be one of the top 10 poorest states in Nigeria.

This means that more than two-thirds of the populace are living in poverty. One major cause is the high insecurity that has been faced in the state for over 2 decades, causing millions of people to be homeless. Other major causes are poor economic implementations, corruption, high rates of unemployment, as well as underemployment among others.

8. Taraba State

  • Capital: Jalingo
  • GDP: ₦2.04 trillion ($5.05)
  • Population: 3.6 million
  • Major Source of Revenue: Taxes

Taraba State is another state in Nigeria that is driven by poverty. Statistics show that 87.72% of people are poor in the state. Like many other states on this list and in northern Nigeria by extension, Taraba is faced with security challenges that have forced people out of their homes and into IDP camps. Other contributing factors are low job opportunities, inaccessibility of basic amenities, and low attention to education.

9. Ebonyi State

  • Capital: Abakaliki
  • GDP: ₦2.24 trillion ($5.55 billion)
  • Population: 3.2 million
  • Major Source of Revenue: Taxes

At number 9 in the poverty rating in Nigeria is Ebonyi State. The poverty index of the southeastern state is 80%. Urban migration has been given as one of the core reasons why the state realizes its low GDP and remains in the shackles of poverty.

Young people are reported to flee the state to more developed cities, thereby reducing tax rates among other significant contributions to alleviate poverty. Even at that, inequality in wealth distribution, social amenities, low education rates, and several other reasons lead to the poverty of the state.

10. Zamfara State

  • Capital: Gusau
  • GDP: ₦1.73 trillion ($4.28 billion)
  • Population: 5.8 million
  • Major Source of Revenue: Taxes

While Zamfara may not be the highest in the rating of the poorest states in Nigeria, it is home to the highest number of poor Nigerians. The state has been marred by macroeconomic problems, educational downfall, security unrest, and a fall in the health sector among others.

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