social interventions

By Hakeem Folarin

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari made a strong promise in his inaugural address for his second term in office on June 12, 2019. He promised to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

He said his administration would, henceforth, begin to lay the foundation for accomplishing the poverty redemption goal by offering leadership with a sense of purpose. “With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years,” the President declared.

In the same vein, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, reiterated at the 2019 annual conference of Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, that the Buhari administration was determined to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty using policies and programmes aimed at promoting financial inclusion and strengthening Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs.

Osinbajo who referenced President Buhari’s June 12 speech on poverty alleviation said: “Financial inclusion of course is the key to realising so much of what we expect as an economy and the President promised in his June 12 speech to lift 100 million people out of poverty in ten years, that is the commitment of the government of Nigeria.”

If the Buhari administration promise is something to hope on, it requires critical thinking on implementation strategy for service delivery. With recent happenings to social intervention programmes of the Buhari administration, one would wonder if the Presidential declaration to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty is just a declaration or a declaration with action.

It was expected that serious action would follow the declaration; it was also expected to be an advanced programme to the Obasanjo’s National Poverty Eradication Programmes or the Jonathan’s Subsidy Reinvestment programmes.

However, the Social Investment Programmes of the Buhari administration, which has gulped over N500 billion in the last four years, includes the N-power, has so far no significant effectiveness in the fight against poverty.

The Federal Government of Nigeria established the National Social Investments Programmes, NSIP, in 2016, to tackle poverty and hunger across the country. The types of programmes under the NSIP focuses on ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources to vulnerable populations, including children, youth and women. Since 2016, the programmes combined claimed to have supported more than four million beneficiaries country-wide.

The N-power programme is designed to assist young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 35 to acquire and develop life-long skills for becoming change makers in their communities and players in the domestic and global markets and given a stipend of N30,000 monthly.

The Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, programme directly supports those within the lowest poverty bracket by improving nutrition, increasing household consumption and supporting the development of human capital through cash benefits to various categories of the poor and vulnerable.

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Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, GEEP, is a micro-lending intervention that targets traders, artisans, enterprising youth, farmers and women in particular, by providing loans between N10,000 and N100,000 at no monthly cost to beneficiaries.

The Home Grown School Feeding Programme, HGSF, aims to deliver school feeding to young children with a specific focus on increasing school enrollment, reducing the incidence of malnutrition (especially among the poor and those ordinarily unable to eat a meal-a-day), empowering community women as cooks and by supporting small farmers that help stimulate economic growth.

President Buhari created the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, warehousing all Social Investment Programmes, such as N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers, National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes under a full ministry and appointing a substantive minister with the full complement of civil service structure. It is a statement of President Buhari’s renewed commitment to pulling millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

The ministry since creation has been struggling to effectively implement all the social investment programmes. One is not surprised that the ministry is still finding it difficult to run the programme not solely because of the inadequacies from the minister but because of the administrative error created by the decision of government.

Federal ministries are created to make policies for agencies to implement, which should be supervised by a minister who is also saddled with the responsibilities of representing all agencies under her ministry at the Federal Executive Council. In the case of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, the minister is currently implementing, suppervising and reporting at the same time.

The NSIP with other social intervention programmes of the Buhari administration is faced with criticism from various quarters in the country. The Social Investment Programmes report is currently under scrutiny in the National Assembly with various discrepancies observed through the investigation carried out by the house committee on public procurement.

The recent decision of government to employ 774,000 was also criticised in the National Assembly not only because it might have little or no impact on poverty alleviation but because of the mode of implementation proposed by the Minister of State for Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo.

The minister had claimed that he has the presidential approval to implement directly which usurps the powers and the act that establishes the National Directorate of Employment as an implementing agency.

The current programme of the Nigeria Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending has equally faced criticism not only because of lack of transparency of the programme but the allegations and counter-allegations of corruption that trailed the management.

The crisis facing most of the Federal Government programmes is a pointer to the need for President Buhari to rekindle his efforts on poverty allievation and the strategy deployed to achieve his dreams of leaving a lasting legacy of poverty allievation in Nigeria.

Folarin, a socio-economic analyst, wrote from Abuja

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