Nigeria And The Rise In Poverty Despite Intervention Programmes

Nigeria And The Rise In Poverty Despite Intervention Programmes

Lois Effiong

In Nigeria, Poverty has kept increasing despite government intervention programmes and assistance from non-governmental organisations to curb the menace. Low standard of living heightens as individuals strive to cope with even the basic amenities for social life. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, forty percent of people living in Nigeria are below the poverty line, highlighting the low levels of wealth in a country that has Africa’s biggest economy.

According to the World Poverty Clock, no fewer than 2,969,158 million people in Nigeria have been added into extreme poverty in the last six months, reaffirming Nigeria as the World Poverty Capital. Out of 188 countries studied, the UN reports that Nigeria is ranked the 152nd in terms of poor standard of living.

Using this metric, Oxfam International Country Director in Nigeria Mr. Constant Tchona, at the organisation’s Programme Quality Review and Planning meeting with the theme “On the Road To Becoming an Influencing Hub,” said: “The number of people that live below the extreme poverty level as of April was 91,501,377, making Nigeria the World Capital of Poverty.

“As if that was not bad enough, at the moment, six months later, the number has jumped up to 94,470,535 people. What this means is that we have added 2,969,158 people more into extreme poverty. By comparison, this number is more than the population of Gambia and Cape Verde combined.

“At the current rate, Nigeria is not only off-track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, but many now believe that up to 25% of the World’s extreme poor will live in Nigeria by 2030. Nigeria total population is put at 200,963,599 people according to the World meter and is to become the world’s third largest country by 2050,” he noted. A person is said to be in extreme poverty if he or she is living on $1.90 per day or less according to the World Bank’s definition.

In a bid to fight poverty in Nigeria, poverty eradication programmes were enacted to empower children, families and communities. President Muhammudu Buhari in his Democracy Day Speech, said: “With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.”

However, many Nigerians doubt the likelihood of President Buhari to achieve this promise owing to their lack of belief in the government’s poverty alleviation programmes. One of those who disagreed with the president was Mr. Waziri Azintiya, a public affairs analyst. He said: “President Buhari has promised to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years. The fact is he only has three years to rule, so given that his second and last tenure is already one year gone.

 “Set against the backdrop of prevailing poverty in Nigeria, this assertion is like graveside humor to many Nigerians, and they are not amused. They are not amused because the actions and policies of the government point rather to the sustenance of the prevailing poor economic structure, which itself brought about existing despicable scenarios of poverty in the country.”

But, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo recently reaffirmed President Buhari’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10-years believing the ruling All Progressives Congress , APC, can achieve this in collaboration with the state governors. “President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years, we shall believe very strongly that we can achieve it with the collaboration of the state governors,” he said.

More so, the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the Nigerian economy which led to hike in food prices, increase in transportation, stagnation in business and hand skilled productivity. Due to this effect, the Federal Government announced plans to roll out a N2.3 trillion stimulus package and survival fund for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, to stay afloat amid the economic challenges imposed by the pandemic. The survival fund includes payroll support for three months, and guaranteed off-take scheme among others, all under the National Economic Sustainability Plan, NESP.

Also, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele in conjunction with the Private Sector Coalition against COVID-19, CACOVID, is set to distribute N23 billion worth of food items to 10 million Nigerians as part of efforts to mitigate the effects of the virus on the people and the economy. CBN as part of proactive measures to support the healthcare sector and cushion the impact of the pandemic on the economy has issued operational guidelines for the N100 billion credit support intervention for the healthcare industry.

N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility, TCF, was also introduced by CBN as a stimulus package to support households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. CBN also gave its approval to the Chambers of Commerce and other members of the organized private sector such as Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Entrepreneurs, among others to guarantee intervention loans applications of their members.

In recognition of the need to ease and fast-track access to loans by credible businesses and SMEs in Nigeria, the approval was given during a virtual meeting on April 17, 2020 between the CBN and representatives of the organized private sector to consider and review conditions for accessing COVID-19 credit facilities approved by the government for Small and Medium Enterprises.

The Nigerian Private Sector Coalition against COVID-19 Relief Fund, CACOVID, has so far received donations totaling N27.1bn to get the novel Coronavirus controlled

Poverty Eradication Programmes In Nigeria

In a chat with AljazirahNigeria, Economist, Chima Samuel said, “Government and people in authority almost always strive to ensure that adequate structural programs are enshrined to see that poverty if not eradicated, should be reduced to the barest minimum.”

“Poverty alleviation strategies ranging from Operation Feed the Nation of 1978, the Green Revolution of 1982, the Directorate of Foods Roads and Rural Infrastructure,DFFRI, the National Directorate for Employment NDE, Poverty Alleviation Program PAP, the National Poverty Eradication Program, NAPEP up to the Seven-Point Agenda were all attempts made by various governments in the country in order to curb the menace of poverty.”

In the same vein, Buhari’s administration since its inception spoke of comprehensive and ambitious plans and has developed programmes that aimed at fighting poverty. Programmes such as the Improvement of Education System, Micro Crediting Plan, Material Aid For Poor Citizens, Meals For School Children, and N-Power, have all attempted to reduce poverty in Nigeria, but Nigerians are worried that they have not done much to improve their lot.

Speaking on a better way to fight poverty and develop impactful poverty eradication programmes, the Executive Director of Child Welfare Initiative in Abuja, Mrs Josephine Adams said the foundation of a child goes a long way in determining the future prospects for him.

She said: “The most important stage in life is when one decides what happens to him or her. The case of child poverty is a severe one as far as Nigeria is concerned. Majority of the poor people in the country are made by children. Just look at our out of school children rate, more than 10 million, which is pointer to how bad the situation of Nigerian Children is.”

Mrs Adams added: “for the narrative to change, government at all levels should design poverty alleviation programmes more inclusively in a manner that children and women are given preference. Beyond the school feeding programme of the Federal Government, social intervention should provide more basic needs of life to give poor children a competitive edge as they claim the ladder of life.”

On the role of families and communities in the fight against poverty, an economist; Paul Inyang said: “Some family values known among Nigerians in the past should not be cast away in the name civilization and greed. Moral lessons should be thought at family and community level for children to grow on the right path.

“For example, if our politicians and public servants are free of corrupt practices, the issue of poverty would not be as rampant as it is now. The one major thing that causes poverty in this country is lack of moral values among our public office holders and even among community leaders. So, encouraging and rewarding upright behaviors should be added into government poverty eradication programmes.”

As Nigerians join the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty held annually on October 17, they hope for the better as many are skeptical of the economic reality and promises of better living for all citizens  by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as several other past government did the same promise and programme aimed at lifting the poor out of poverty yet, Nigeria is rated the poverty capital of the world.  If it is all about keeping faith many Nigerians have lost it especially going by the reality on ground, we have only resorted to prayers for hope and positive results.

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