Misplaced Poverty Alleviation Programmes in Nigeria

767 views | Sanusi Muhammad | March 6, 2021

Nigeria is a country blessed from all standards but still in search of good leadership in the midst of technocrats and intellectuals. It is a country that has been most unfortunate with inept and clueless leadership. Since independence in 1960, Nigeria is still in search of the right leaders to pilot its affairs with sincerity of purpose, determination and courage. It has been a country piloted on trial and error and wishful thinking. It is a country that lacks nothing to prosper but has no committed leadership.

In the past few years, the country introduced programme after programme trumpeting the same mantra of “lifting millions of citizens out of poverty”. One of such deceitful programmes that caught my attention is the N5000.00 a month stipend to some of those rated as most vulnerable Nigerians. While the question on how the paltry sum can lift any vulnerable person out of poverty remains unbelievable, to my thinking defies logic. What is more disturbing and sad is the source of the funding.

To fund the 2021 budget deficit, Nigeria is set to go borrowing of N4.28trillion. The country’s ever growing debt stock which as at June 2020 was N31.01trillion remains a source of worry to this generation and future generations. The government’s incessant borrowing makes the Nigeria a high risk country and puts immense pressure on an already impoverished and frightened population that is yearning for change in 2023.

From terrorist attacks, to banditry attacks to farmer/herders conflicts, kidnapping for ransom and armed robbery, insecurity has become a nationwide lingering problem in my country. Despite all these, the government has done little to ensure that Nigerians are safe and whatever investments made in the country are kept safe. Apart from the fact that the security of lives and property is its primary duty to the people as a government, security is also very important if Nigerians are to freely carry out economic activities or attract foreign investors.

Nigeria is yet to realize the simple fact that wars are not only fought and won by military power but by other means that I may not discuss here for obvious reason. Nigerian soldiers are not trained in guerilla warfare but conventional war. Our leaders are yet to come to terms with the reality. It is not an issue of issuing directives to security agencies to restore normalcy in the land but an issue of how to overcome the frightening situation at hand. It is unfortunate that we have no committed leadership to our problems.

If any country can make an argument in favor of putting more resources or money in the hands of the government, Nigeria is definitely not that country. Nigerian government is a leaking bowl with a very large artificially created hole when it comes to funds it handles. A report by Human Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) shows that Nigeria lost at least $600billion to corruption since 1960. The gross mismanagement of funds and inefficiency of government projects puts a large question mark on the government’s ability to actually utilize the funds allocated to the poverty alleviating programmes properly.

Despite the government’s repeated mantra on bringing Nigerians out of poverty, it has done little in the way of encouraging businesses to flourish via its policies. Some of the policies not only destroy wealth and employment- creating establishments but also discourages foreign and even domestic investment in the country.

Even ordinary export business in a country that claims trying to bridge the gap between its import and exports has proven to be extremely difficult. The seaports are characterized by unabated corrupt practices and time-wasting procedures artificially created for corrupt tendencies such that goods can remain at the ports for months before clearance for shipment. Today, it is almost impossible to export perishable goods out of the country. Instead of sharing money to individuals rated as vulnerable and organizations under the guise of poverty alleviation, Nigerians would never tackle the problem of poverty if Nigerians cannot freely create wealth via productive enterprise on national and international scales. The government will pull more people out of poverty by creating a safe and free business environment for Nigerians to create wealth and thrive than the deceitful and corruption infested sharing money programme that lacks sincerity of purpose other than serving as a conduit for those itchy-fingered rogues on the corridors of power that have mustard the art of stealing public funds under different sub-heads.

Lest I forget, it is only in Nigeria that local government area councils serve as the drain pipes of public resources by those political maggots that masquerade as leaders. For instance, I know of a local government in Plateau State that was created in 1976 but still lacks motorable roads, portable water supply, health facilities and other basics of life including modern market; motor park among others. The local government was bailed out from health challenges by the Solomon Lar administration in 1979 with an equipped cottage hospital which was later reduced to a consulting clinic by successive governments and abandoned. The impact of the local government administration is felt by only a selected few as the majority, are neglected but only serve as sources of revenue that is embezzled.

Today, we are told that the Simon Bako Lalong administration in Plateau State is building a general hospital for the local government as part his 20 legacy projects. From assessment, the ongoing project is the only benefit of the people from state government they labored to install in 2015. Most projects in the local government were provided by MDGs and SDGs. The place is too rural due to poor leadership and commitment to progress. It is a local government that awarded the sinking of a single borehole at over N3.5million to selected individuals for political patronage. That is absurd! The people are the most wretched and abandoned to fate by their leaders. As the maxim says, necessity is the mother of invention. The people have now realized their mistake and the need to wake up from day dream and save their area from political abracadabra and sentimental politics that has retarded their unity and progress over the years. They have resolved to effect changes through the ballot box in 2023. We are waiting and watching with keen interest.

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues

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