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LIFTING 100 million Nigerians out of poverty: Does President Buhari have the capacity to deliver?

•Nigerians express doubt, suggest way out

By Samuel Oyadongha, Bayelsa; Peter Duru, Benue; Marie-Therese Nanlong, Plateau; Chioma Onuegbu, Akwa Ibom; Shina Abubakar, Osun and Charles Agwam, Bauchi

President Muhammadu Buhari, at a retreat for the ministers-designate, who have now been inaugurated spoke of his administration’s vision of laying the groundwork to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years. The president, therefore, tasked his ministers to catch the vision and ensure its realisation. Nigerians have however reacted to the president’s speech. Some challenged him to mention how many Nigerians he had lifted out of poverty in four years of his first term and the structure he has put in place to realise his vision. They believed the President just made a political statement that has no meaning to the citizens. Others, however, offered suggestions on how he could lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty if he has the political will to do that.

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President Muhammadu Buhari

Hembadoon Orsar:  I don’t see the President realizing the vision with the lingering security challenge facing the country. How can he achieve that when every section of the country is faced with one security issue or the other. The security issue bedeviling the country should be tackled effectively to prepare grounds for that vision to be achieved. Secondly, the President should be ready to fire his appointees who fail to key into his vision unlike what we had in his first tenure when he left almost all his Ministers in their positions for four years even when it was obvious that many of them were under-performing.

Mrs. Scholastica Hir:  The fact is that until we tell ourselves the truth about the true situation of things in this country the government might not achieve that target. And one thing we must all tell ourselves is that Nigeria can only come out of its present challenge when selfless and capable individuals are entrusted with leadership responsibilities irrespective of the section of the country they come from. That is when we can start making progress but if we continue to play tribal politics in every thing we do in this country the government will not achieve set targets and goals and everyone will be worse for it.

Jacob Ayati:  The President can achieve whatever target he has set for himself and the administration, all he needs to do at the moment is to tackle the security challenge and also ensure that those entrusted with responsibilities in his government are alive to their duties. He has four years to achieve his set targets and if those he has recruited to assist him are not diligent enough to help him stir the ship of leadership he might not accomplish that target. So he has to ensure that only trusted and capable hands are engaged by his government. He should also ensure an end to the ceaseless herdsmen killings and banditry in parts of the country because it is scaring away foreign investors from the country. I can assure you that if these issues are addressed as quickly as possible the government may to a large extent accomplish that target of taking over 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next four years.

Alagoa Morris, Environmentalist:  As good as such pronouncements are, the goal needs clear road map in form of policies and strategies. Governance is public business and guided by goal directed policies. So, these ministers cannot be working in isolation; as a lot has gone wrong in the system and there is need for well coordinated synergy to realise any meaningful goal. Again, what are the key performance indices (KPI) for Nigerians to observe at the end of the day that the goal has been realised? We are not expecting that money would just be thrown at individuals as one of such strategies. So, first of all; to be fair to all Nigerians; we should have a holistic approach to this matter.

It would be more beneficial to Nigerians if the security situation is effectively tackled and brought to a satisfactory level to boost the confidence of citizens. Then, there should be at least 18 hours of electricity for all Nigerians, if 24 hours electricity is still like rocket science to us. Also, the agricultural sector should be boosted by supporting rural farmers and fisher folks with incentives/loans (refundable or non-refundable). This should be for real farmers and fisherfolks in our communities, not portfolio farmers in the cities. Again, those with incentive abilities in all sectors should be encouraged, especially in renewable energy and other things that will add value to society. Commerce needs boosting too, the ministry in charge of commerce should come out with a well-articulated strategy to encourage those already in trading and new entrants. The industrial sector needs to be reinvigorated. These and more are some of the things we should see leading to the achievement of the objective.

Tariyon Akono, Public servant:  It’s simple. They should provide power for the SMEs to thrive; provide security for lives and property so that farmers and business people can be more productive; improve on the infrastructure around the country. Once these are done they would have moved millions of people out of poverty but certainly not 100 million. Trader money can’t bring people out of poverty without these things in place.

Elaye Youdeowei, Minority right activist:  Buhari cannot reinvent the wheel. He lacks the capacity and will to do so.”

Hon Tari Porri, Lawmaker:  This is the biggest joke in the century. President Buhari doesn’t have what it takes to actualize his frivolous promises. This is because the President promised Nigerian of a better life in his first tenure and yet he failed in its entirety. So, we don’t have any confidence in President Buhari’s promises and his administration. It is submitted with utmost respect to Mr President, that he lacks capacity to deliver on his campaign promises as he has done in his first term and this is more so, when he has failed to lay a proper foundation for all that he has promised Nigerians.

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Amaebi Clarkson, Legal practitioner/Businessman:  It is commendable that the government has owned up that there is poverty in the land but how to alleviate that poverty is the issue. Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that government is looking beyond the Empower programme and TraderMoni because those programmes ab initio are designed to be ‘chop money’ for the boys. The government should rather look at how to solve the power problem and make small businesses to thrive. Also, rejuvenating the skills acquisition programme for skill empowerment will boost its poverty alleviation drive.

Eric Omare, Ijaw youth activist:  I think that the key thing that needs to be done to lift people out of poverty is aggressive industrialisation in the country. When there are industries everywhere, there would be employment opportunity for people and other economic opportunities. So, I suggest that if the government’s intention is to address the issue of poverty, then the government’s main concern should be industrialisation.

Mr Paniebi Jones, artist:  100 million Nigerians is a far cry, that’s about half the population. This is a mere political statement, we are yet to tackle unemployment, insecurity, electricity and housing how is he going to achieve this? No empowerment programme will give such result. Without an enabling environment for growth, no social welfare scheme will take 100 million people out of poverty. The president is about to be robbed by some politicians..

Doubara Atasi, civil servant:  When you say the present administration under PMB is laying the groundwork for alleviating poverty, the question is how, when and where? I don’t see such a vision crystallizing in this country. How can that be possible without any tangible improvement in the power sector? How do you hope to conquer poverty with the worsening insecurity in this country, where people cannot move freely to carry out their legitimate businesses. And you’re talking about lifting people out of poverty. How? Maybe through the handouts known as tradermoni that government is throwing at market women. A country that cannot protect its citizenry at a time every serious developing nation is building its human assets to promote a knowledge-driven economy should bury its head in shame. In case they don’t know, Nigerians that can contribute meaningfully to our national economy are being mowed down everyday by Fulani herdsmen and government is doing almost nothing to quell this unwarranted ‘war’ against its citizenry. For the vision to work (if there is any in the first place), the Federal Government should frontally address the issue of insecurity because the problem is scaring investors away. Secondly, it should fix the power supply challenge even if it requires rocket science for us to overcome it.

Rauf Yusuf, civil servant:  I expected the President to assign ministers to ministries where they have training and experience. I am utterly disappointed. If you look at the ministries they assigned to some ministers, you would notice that many of the ministers are square pegs in round holes. One of them even told the world that he knew nothing about the ministry he was assigned to. How can that kind of team help the President to lift 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years? The President should revisit the list and reassign portfolios to the ministers based on their area of expertise.

David Yohanna:  I’m skeptical about the vision of lifting 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years due to lack of structure for continuity of government policies. The President obviously made the statement to score political points. I mean, how do you lift people out of poverty without a blueprint that every citizen can readily access, read and digest? There’s no structure for continuity. When the President leaves after four years, how are we sure that the next President will continue with the vision? Even the cabinet he assembled are more politicians than technocrats. I think everything is just propaganda

Mr Godwin Udofia, legal practitioner:  The vision is not achievable, it is just cheap talk. What is that concrete thing that this administration has done that can convince someone that this can be realized. None. Talking about laying ground work, people don’t even know what it is. Ground work should be something visible for people to know how the plan will work. I am talking as a concerned citizen of this country that it is only a cheap talk.

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Mr Bassey Essien, oil marketer:  The  government needs to provide the enabling environment that would encourage massive creation of employment and job opportunities because the percentage government employ is very, very insignificant compared to the population. If the right infrastructure is put in place, for example if we can have 24hours uninterrupted power supply in this country, you will see what Nigerians can do on their own because they are industrious, they are creative. So as a Nigerian, and as a human being I don’t think that there is anything that is impossible to achieve. Everything is possible to achieve if only you have the mindset to do it. Frankly speaking, lifting Nigerians out of poverty in 10years is not impossible to achieve, we can actually get out from where we are now but government must have the political will to achieve this.

Katdapba Gobum, social critic:  Its realization can be so long as the ministers catch the vision. If they sing the same song and are on the same page with him giving them target, before long, we can even have more. We need genuine intervention from private sector. But by and large, skills acquisition must be developed. This will take the heat off government and boost the vision.

Paul Jatau, Journalist:  I think it is achievable if he’s able to curb the insatiable greed of our elites and stop stealing of public funds. People must be held accountable for their actions. A thief in Nigeria should be treated as such. Government’s anti-corruption crusade must not be selective. The people on their part must stand up and resist the pilfering of their commonwealth and expose any thief in their community regardless of their religion, tribe or region.

Shabul Mazadu:  It is realisable if all the stolen funds are recouped and channelled in productive areas like agriculture, solid minerals, water resources and power. Judicious use of public funds free from corruption is vital. Commitment to duty by ministers, and shunning all forms of corruption by same and generating brilliant productive ideas and executing them too can also get 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years. The governors and local government chairmen must key into this vision. Civic education in schools should lay emphasis on patriotism. Finally, journalists must key into the vision by exposing all forms of corruption and bad policies initiated by those in the corridors of power.

Utiyos Ephraim:  Is it just to say it? What are the plans to ensure it works? We have heard about rolling plans in the past, how have they improved our situation? He has said it, where will he be in the next three years and what are the blueprints to ensure there is continuity? I really doubt it, we have been getting by, we shall continue to do that.

Edwina Umaru:  President Buhari has said many things but how many has he done? He’s been around for almost five years and so far, he has not impressed me so whatever he has in mind, it’s left to him.

Comrade Waheed Lawal, Human right activist:  It is possible if the President is sincere. The target of President Muhammad Buhari is possible in a period of ten years if the administration is sincere about it. I believe the induction programme was aimed at intimating the ministers with the vision of the president and by extension the administration, hence, one of the prerequisites has been done, that is putting everyone on the same track. There should also be a feedback mechanism for the president to measure the compliance of his cabinet members to his objective by reviewing each ministry’s programmes and policy quarterly.

Prince Diran Odeyemi, Deputy National Publicity Secretary, PDP:  It is possible but I doubt this government’s sincerity. It is a lofty idea, but one which is very difficult to achieve by this administration because of its antecedents. The president’s first term of office created more pains for Nigerians than it solved. One would have loved to see that the president’s policy statement could be transformed into reality, but you have people who were accused of corruption suddenly becoming saints because they have jumped to the other side of the table. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and see what transpired between Nigerians and the APC administration in the next two years, but for me I do not think the president is serious with the statement, it is a mere political rhetorics.

Murtala Agboola, public affairs analyst:  If it’s a priority, it is possible. It is realisable if government gets its priority right. First, the ministers have been briefed on the intention of the president, besides, they all know what Nigerians are going through, so they should come up with programmes and policies that would enhance the achievement of the president’s vision. There should also be legal framework that would support viable programmes to ensure its continuity in the event of change of government so that such programmes could outlive any government in the interest of Nigerians and the same should apply to some projects as well.

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