INVESTIGATION: Flamboyant Plan Of Lifting 100 Million Nigerians Out OF Poverty -A Mirage Or Reality?

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Temitope Babalola, a 34-year-old graduate, without a job for 5 years after graduation applied for the YouWin Connect empowerment program in July 2017 and finished march 2018 start up.

He explained that he was among the successful applicants and master class trainees.
we spent time, resources, and travel from their different locations just to get our hopes dashed.

They began a protest and he became the convener of YOU-win protest, despite all advocacy and protest efforts, according to him, they were not given the start up needed.

Temitope lamented that the program lacked funding, he said the government should have ensured such programs end up being fruitful and achieve the aim of lifting poor Nigerians from poverty and creating jobs which will in turn have a positive rippling effect on the economy and as well boost the GDP.

No entrepreneurs or businesses can survive without funding, as training or skills acquisition without proper funding is as good as nothing.

Another beneficiary, Sanyo John, she is a 36 year old graduate and sure P beneficiary in 2019.

She also lamented her ordeal,she has been thrown into the labor market after the government stopped the 30,000 thousand naira monthly sure P program stipend 6 months back.

The payment was never consistent nor did it cover her transport and feeding allowance facing Nigeria’s present harsh economic reality.

Another sure P beneficiary is Esther Okon,29 years, she was under the Batch B Nteach in Lugbe pry school, zone 9,Abuja.

Esther, filled with restraining tears in her eyes, it’s been very difficult to feed as salaries stopped coming since the last 9 months.

Under these various government programs…Tope, sanyo and Esther are few out of many frustrated youths under the government various intervention schemes.

Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million people and still counting, and one of the largest in the continent facing many hydra headed problems of poverty, unemployment, poor infrastructure and many negative indices, of which the government says it is working daily to seek solutions.

According to the Oxfam report poverty index, at least 94 million Nigerians live below the poverty line.

The previous administration of former President Good luck Jonathan was accused of leaving Nigerians in a worse state of corruption and which was believed to lead to economic recession in 2016-2017.

Is the next administration changing the narrative?

THEN THE NEXT REGIME…
The inauguration of Muhammadu Buhari as the 15th President of Nigeria, and 4th President in the fourth Nigerian Republic took place on 29 May 2015. It marked the beginning of the first term of Buhari as President following the 2015 general election.
With the need for a change in the Nigerian situation, his campaign promised a change from corruption and poverty, promising to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
As expected by Nigerians, he rolled out economic plans:

LET’S CHECK THE PLANS
The National Social Investment Program of Nigeria, which is a social welfare initiative created by the Federal government in 2015 under the direction of the National Social Investment Office.

The Program was created to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources to vulnerable populations, including children, youth, and women.

The Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments in the Office Maryam Uwais, in May,2016 disclosed that the National Social Investment Office (N-SIO), the coordinator of the NSIP, had received N470.825b in the three years out of the N1.5trillion budgeted for the poverty alleviation initiative.

This indicates that less than one-third of the total budgetary allocation was released in the past three years.

This actual released figure also means that even if the whole of the newly allocated N30 billion for 2020 is released, it would still be less than the average annual spend (about N157 billion) on the project in each of the last three years.

Mrs Uwais also said the NSIP had distributed $22.216m recovered Abacha loot to poor Nigerians under the program’s cash transfer scheme.

The office created four programs to address poverty and help increase economic development namely, The N-power program, which provides young Nigerians with job training and education, as well as a monthly stipend of 30,000 naira

The Conditional cash transfer program that directly supports the most vulnerable by providing no-strings-attached cash to those in the lowest income group, helping reduce poverty, improve nutrition and self-sustainability, and supporting development through increased consumption.

Statistics from the Trader Moni Command Center showed thatN19.6 billion had been disbursed to 1.95 million Nigerians under the program at the end of October. The data also showed that 4.6 million people have been enumerated out of which 2.57 million have been verified.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government also plans to spend N2 billion naira for the operations of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) operations.

This however represents a 50 percent decline when compared to the N4 billion allocated for the same purpose in the 2019 Appropriation Bill (Budget 2019.

The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP) a micro-lending investment program targeting entrepreneurs with a focus on young people and women. This program provides no-cost loans to its beneficiaries, helping reduce the start-up costs of business ventures in Nigeria.

Finally, The Home Grown School Feeding Program, HGSF with this, government attempts to increase school enrollment by providing meals to schoolchildren, particularly those in poor and food-insecure regions.

The program works with local farmers and empowers women as cooks, building the community and sustaining economic growth from farms.

Supporting this lofty initiative, a year after in June 2016, the world bank group approved 500 million dollars credit to support the establishment of these programs, targeted at economic development in Nigeria, and the Nigerian Government provided an additional $1.3 billion dollars from its budget to create the social safety net programs which came to be known as the National Social Investment Program.

According to the Bank of Industry, Over two million petty traders have benefitted from Trader Moni and other GEEP micro-credit schemes.

Since then, the program claimed that over 4 million Nigerians have directly benefited from job training, financial assistance, and social development through these programs.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT OF GOVERNMENT INTERVENTIONS BETWEEN 2015-2019

The HGSF program was introduced in 2016 as part of the N500 billion naira funded Social Investment Program of the President Buhari administration.

It was projected to provide 1.14 million jobs across the country, including community women who would be engaged as cooks.

According to a 2019 government document titled “Investing in Our People,” the program claimed to be feeding over nine million pupils in 52,604 schools across 30 states and empowered 101,913 cooks with bank accounts, Which is a merit to the program.

But the program coordinator Bimbo Adesanmi on a program on talking economy, Kiss FM radio,999 in Abuja in march 2019 said we have a proper database, though there were perceived claims that the programs did not still cushion the effect of poverty.

AND BUHARI IN SECOND TENURE
Muhammadu Buhari in his second tenure in may 2019 ,2020 reiterated the plan of his administration to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years.
He said “Nigeria attaches great importance to poverty eradication.

President Buhari says his conviction is to devote efforts towards human capital development, efficient management of resources, greater financial inclusion, and transformation of the agricultural sector to ensure food security, which are crucial to poverty eradication.

But one question out of many is how these can be a reality with mirage of problems like corruption, poor or no database and coupled with insecurity,to list a few out of many.

WHAT DID HE DO NEXT IN TRYING TO ADDRESS POVERTY?
To better get its economic priorities right, president Buhari refreshed the economic plan by setting up the economic advisory council.

Following its first formal meeting with the President after its inauguration in September, the Economic Advisory Council of Nigeria (EAC), this is chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami.

The Council replaced the former Economic Management Team headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, which was made up of members of the ministerial cabinet as well as heads of key economic parastatals like the CBN and DMO. The new EAC consists of respected economic technocrats within the country.

According to a Presidency statement issued after the meeting by Buhari’s media aide, Garba Shehu, the committee identified a lack of synergy between Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government as a major factor delaying delivery of set economic goals.

The council also raised concerns around the rate of the growth of the economy which still lags the country’s population growth rate as well as the need to strengthen national statistical agencies, reform procurement processes, improve education and training format and provide a friendly climate for foreign investments.

Nigeria’s history of brilliant committees with sub-optimal performance continues to dampen expectations from the EAC.

The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), and the dissolved Economic Management Team (EMT) were all examples of committees at one point or the other.

Have they had much or little or no impact as economic performance remains well below ERGP projections?

Suggestions from quarters are that policies by the EAC may not be implemented due to clash with the political and business interests of a few.

This economist and investment analysts, Ibrahim Shelleng speaks to these limitations. Before the pandemic, the economy was on its knees with low growth and stagnation, and calling for caution on excessive and unnecessary spending ,commending cbn’s effort to put more money into the real sector with reduced interest rate. In a nutshell, whether the government has done the best is debatable.

While the country is in dire need of purposeful and assertive technocrats with integrity to recommend and implement favorable economic policies, it is uncertain whether the EAC reflects seriousness on the part of the Presidency or just an attempt at playing to the gallery to shut the mouth of critics, especially as it has only an advisory role.

That said, with the optimism that the committee may be able to suggest pro-growth policies that will help in attracting much needed foreign direct investment to accelerate economic growth, improve job creation and reduce unemployment levels.

In the wake of the fuel subsidy removal announcement on sept 7, 2020BISMARCK REWANE,told Nigerians that the removal of subsidy is a right step in the right direction .
Also the recession is biting harder. We are in a recession because Q3, definitely Q3 we are going to have a negative growth, so Q2 & Q3.

But inflation is not a binary choice. It’s a question of complement, there is cost push and demand pull inflation. So in this case what has happened, transport fares have gone up by 8.6% because of the adjustment in petrol cost. – spend some and you save the rest. So when you bring the interest rate down, what happens is that you discourage savings and you encourage consumption. That itself is inflationary.

84 cents is spent on consumption and 16 cents is saved. That includes your pension, your compulsory savings as well. But more important is that for every Naira spent, 10 Kobo is spent on direct or indirect impulse. That’s what we call the marginal propensity to import.
So this move is a correct move in one sense. But the time lap between when you make policies and when you get the impact is much longer. So it is very optimistic to think that – because interest rates have come down it will automatically translate into more loans, cheaper loans, output will increase and the prices will come down. – The truth is that the CBN made a very strong case for bringing down interest rate, a strong case for increasing interest rate and a strong case for keeping it where it is.

One year into President Buhari’s second tenure, many Nigerians are still lamenting poverty with about 66 million Nigerians jobless. To worsen the situation, covid -19 came uninvited to disrupt not only the air but also the economy.

With a nation still grappling with poor economic situations, the situation became worse.
Nigeria like other countries released palliatives and different programs aimed at cushioning this effect.

AND FOR THE MONETARY INTERVENTIONS BY CBN, DID IT CHANGE THE POVERTY SLOGAN?

Then the ONE TRILLION NAIRA STIMULUS PACKAGE BY CBN came to the rescue.
The Central Bank of Nigeria in March,2020 announced a N1.1trillion naira intervention fund to support critical sectors of the economy.

The Governor in the statement said the N 1 Trillion naira would be used to support the local manufacturing sector as well as boost import substitution.

He added that the balance of N100 Billion naira would be used to support the Health Authorities to ensure laboratories, researchers and innovators work with global scientists to patent and produce vaccines and test kits in Nigeria.

This, he said, was imperative following the Coronavirus pandemic, adding that the N100 Billion naira would enable the country to prepare for any major crises ahead.

The central bank further went ahead to announce six policy responses.
Extension of moratorium on loans, Reduction of interest rates from 9% to 5%Creation of a N50 Billion naira fund to support the economy.

Credit support for the healthcare sector, Regulatory forbearance and Strengthening of the loan-to-deposit rate policy.

Supporting the cbn’s claim, this economist and investment expert, Ibrahim shelleng ……, government need to focus more on better policies for intervention to cushion the effect of covid -19 ,although cbn has tried by reducing savings rate by commercial banks but need to do more to reduce interest rate,because there is total high inflation that will have adverse effect on business which has taken away the interventions to cushion poverty and also reduce excessive cost on governance .

THEN NSIP CONTROVERSY
The ongoing disbursement of the conditional cash transfers to vulnerable citizens as part of the Federal Government’s palliative measures to mitigate the effect of the lockdown of some places to stem the spread of COVID-19 has heightened calls for transparency in the implementation of the National Social Investment Program.

Four years into the implementation of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs) there are pointers that the project has run into murky waters. The implementation of the program appears to be opaque but to lawmakers and Nigerians and demands for increased transparency are on the rise.

On April 1,2020, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, commenced the disbursement of N20,000 conditional cash transfer to poor homes in the Kwali Area Council of Abuja in compliance with the directive, many Nigerians flawed the intervention.

It could be recalled that in May 2019, the First lady, Aisha Buhari, also faulted the manner the NSIP was being executed, saying the program had failed to achieve its aim in most parts of Northern Nigeria.

In august 2020, the leadership of the National Assembly was so much in the dark about the implementation of the program that the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, was forced to label it a fraud.

RECENT CONTROVERSY
As part of lack of proper data gathering, the Kwara
Recently, some news outlets, particularly Sahara reporters, had quoted the Kwara State Focal Person for the NSIP, Hajia Bashirah Abdulrazaq-Sanusi, in a report stating that “those that disbursed the money do not have records of beneficiaries like phone numbers and addresses, thus, making it difficult to track them for repayment.”

Hajia Bashirah Sanusi, debunked the media reports which quoted her as saying that there was no record of beneficiaries of the TraderMoni scheme.

Similarly, Bank of Industry says records of the NSIP beneficiaries are intact to dispel the accusation.

Under TraderMoni, petty traders and artisans receive interest-free loans starting from N10,000. Once they pay back the sum, they become eligible for higher loans up to N100,000.

Over two million petty traders have benefitted from TraderMoni and other GEEP microcredit schemes, which were executed by the Bank of Industry.

Dr. chijoke Ekechukwu,an economist and former Director General,Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, lamented that with so many released funds for covid -19 palliatives with ministry of humanitarian affairs, the impact cannot be seen around the neighborhoods.

Government has released so many packages through multiple interventions but it’s still a failure because its impact is not visible on citizens yet, despite the huge amount released, the ministry of humanitarian affairs claims is not justifiable and with poor implementation, it’s still a failure.

WHAT’S ABOUT THE NIGERIA’S ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAM?
With Nigeria’s Economic sustainability program, chaired by vice president Yemi Osinbajo’s Sustainability Committee , it recommended that the Stimulus be funded through a CBN “structured lending” of N1.1 trillion, N302.9 billion from other funding and N500 billion from special accounts.

The plan also recommended the creation of over 10 million jobs in a 12 months period through a food for all projects hiring 5 million people which will cost N635 billion.

Mass Housing strategy creating 1.8 million jobs, Solar Power strategy expected to create 250,000 jobs, Digital Economy strategy to create 1 million jobs for outsourcing, National gas Expansion Program to support the creation of 1 million jobs, have all been initiated.

Senior special adviser to the president on public Affairs, Ajuri Ngelale in an excerpt from his interview on kiss fm talking economy program, presented the lofty initiative of the program.

About 15 million Nigerians have benefitted from the social investment program and with much infrastructure development, the economy is doing well despite challenges by the current situation ,as Nigeria is really moving forward.

But with one more quarter to go, for the end of the program, Same Nigerians claim to be in the dark about the initiative.

Abuja Bureau chief of the Guardian newspaper,Igho Akheregha, faulted these many government initiatives.

Federal government says it has spent 31 billion naira within 4 months to fight covid -19,beyond that august 2020, federal government claimed to have spent 523.3 billion naira ND about 126 billion dollars to help business for covid 19,I have come a reasonable conclusion that government is not sincere to fight poverty and covid 19.

Government needs to intervene genuinely in informal sector businesses and Agriculture.
Government needs to genuinely fight corruption and stop deceiving the citizens.

Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs aim to reduce poverty by making welfare programs conditional upon the receivers’ actions. The government (or a charity) only transfers the money to persons who meet certain criteria.

WHAT PERCENTAGE OF NIGERIANS BENEFITED?
Economic analysts,Ejike Ume also applauds the CBN but citizens can still feel the impact.
, I would say Nigeria has done quite a lot especially the CBN. We will keep giving kudos to the CBN and we are asking the Federal Government through the physical policies that they should make sure whatever policy or whatever intervention has been put in paper, is well actualized. Let the real sector see it. Let’s feel the impact because if you are not feeling the impact and everything is on paper then you never did anything.

Now with the latest of them all, THE SURVIVAL FUND AND GUARANTEED OFFTAKE STIMULUS SCHEME OF 75 BILLION NAIRA to urgently pump in 75 BILLION NAIRA with little time frame so that Nigerians can massively be relieved from the adverse effect of the pandemic.

Coordinator of the project Tola Johnson assures Nigerians of greater success of this intervention than the previous, highlighting its benefits.

It is in this regard, that the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) has given high priority to the implementation of the MSMEs Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Schemes. The Survival Fund scheme and the Guaranteed Offtake Scheme is expected to meet current realities. The two schemes are targeted to impact about 1.7million entities and individual beneficiaries across the country.

Of course, many Nigerians are yet to come to terms with multiple hydra headed problems facing this administration, Banditry, kidnapping, herdsman attack and Boko haram insurgents, and all are brainchild of insecurity.

Can we say they are not effective, with the massive cry of hunger, food inflation, rise in unemployment statistics by NBS and coupled with hike in fuel and electricity?

Some economy watchers like the Abuja bureau chief of the Guardian newspapers, Igho Akherega lamented that the whole program is a hoax.

The pandemic about March this year, federal government announced September 2020to spend 31 billion naira to fight covid 19 within 4 months in august 2020 claim to 5023.3 million naira on school feeding.

And another 2.6 million Nigerians to benefit from cash transfer covid 19.
Says 136 million dollars to help business affected by covid 19.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MANY ECONOMIC INTERVENTION PROGRAMS ?
Corruption, poor data,lack of transparency and accountability.

ITS MANY FAILURES ….
Dr chijoke answers
Corruption, poor data,lack of transparency and accountability.

CONNECTING INSECURITY WITH POVERTY
The National Bureau of statistics recent food inflation on the increase, due to constant flooding, insecurity and banditry, because farmers in the north cannot access their farms, as Boko Haram terrorists has invaded their settlement, coupled with herdsmen attacks on farms and livelihood, so the farming community, can only produce little and hence led to high cost of food and scarcity.

With the recent flooding in the north, grains and rice, which are staple food, have now tripled in price.

From a popular food market in maraba,a boundary between Abuja nasarawa state.
Food survey shows that
Price of grains now 300 naira per mudu
Previous price-120 naira
Previous Soya -180 naira and now 350
10 kg of tomatoes previous 800 naira and now -2000naira
10kg of IRISH Potatoes, previous 1,000 naira now 2000 naira
A 50KG bag of rice now goes for about 30 to 35 thousand naira only.
Previously 50 kg of rice was 15-16 thousand naira only.
With Nigeria’s inflation rate daily on the rise, as it hits 13.22percent as at September 14 2020.

With the daily bloating of poverty index in Nigeria, at what point will these interventions begin to count?

WAY FORWARD
Economic Analysts, Ejike UME and other analysts proffer solutions.
They want government to adopt strategy of other countries to intervene in informal sector, to grow local industries, deregulation of the oil sector.

Others are: fight corruption to ensure that resources are not in the hand of corrupt Nigerians by blocking leakages and fight corruption to a standstill.

With about 66 million Nigerians without jobs, they call for policy redirection, by channeling the funds to sincere Nigerians.

In addition, the need for diversification of the economy without just lip service diversification, redirect resources to create employment for informal sectors. With proper implementation, it is believed that the anticipated result will be achieved.

This story was supported by the US embassy via the ATUPA fellowship by Civic Hive.Visualizations Supported by ATUPA fellowship.

AYOADE OLATOKEWA-KISS FM RADIO, 999 ABUJA

1 COMMENT

  1. Inter Government agency collaborations will enhance results. Most Particularly Departments of Community Development and Budget planings in our Local Governments. It will create monitoring and evaluation of benificiaries business as well control Wastages in funds allocated.

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