Experts fault absence of sustainability strategies in social investment programmes
There is the need for the Federal Government to develop clear-cut strategies for its social investment programmes to guarantee maximum effects, experts have said.In his reaction to the takeoff of N5, 000 payment to the poorest of the poor, Public Affairs Analyst and Development Consultant, Jide Ojo, said the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) was one of the different strands of social intervention scheme of the federal government, which was part of the 2016 budget.
Ojo said: “It was not surprising that the government has started the disbursement; nothing was done in last year. Although we must understand that the budget has been extended to March or May. The President mentioned in his presentation of 2017 budget that it would roll over the N500billion social intervention scheme. It is still in order; because the 2016 budget is still valid and we should actually commend government for deeming if fit to kick start the CCT of N5000 to one million poorest of the poorest.
He posited that the issue basically has been how to determine the poorest of the poorest? What is the yardstick for measuring poverty? Statistics shows that over 50 per cent of Nigerians are living below poverty line, which means they cannot afford one meal per day even with what the exchange rate is now close to N500 that means majority of Nigerians cannot even afford to feed themselves with such amount in a day.
Ojo expressed worry about the indices used to determine the beneficiaries so far chosen. His explanation: “When the news broke that about nine states have kick started, I was shocked. Because prior to now nothing was heard about CCT, the government was silent on it. The one we know about was the N-Power project under which the federal government recruited 200,000 out of the 500,000 that they said they were going to employ to pay N30, 000.”
Speaking on how the disbursement could help reflate the economy, he said, “A little drop of water makes a mighty ocean, we cannot say that in itself would reflate the economy because it is small. N5000 wouldn’t go far with anybody no matter how prudent you are but it is part of putting money in people’s pocket making sure that there is money in circulation.
“This is just an additional welfare scheme that would enable some people to live a semblance of a human life. We should not forget that so many people in the rural communities N5000 means a lot to them. That is why a lot of people would sell their vote as far less than N500 to vote for somebody against their wish. It tells the level of grinding poverty level we have in the country”, he said.
On his part, President of the Association of Outsourcing Practitioners of Nigeria (AOPN), Dr. Austin Nweze, stated that the government is creating a problem that would hurt even more than help them.
He stated: “How sustainable is the social intervention programme? They want to create something they cannot afford to. What they need to do is to channel the money giving it out to private equity firms to provide finances for small businesses that want to set up, then businesses would employ people. That is the best alternative.
“Even if it is N500 billion given to equity firms readily available for people to access it, set up business and employ people rather than short cut.” He opined that the public should know the procedures involved in accessing such fund, what are the processes, what criteria did the government use, who applied, how do you justify those who are qualified saying these are needed to and how sustainable the programmes are.
“How long government is going to do that for? Sometimes people engage in something they cannot sustain. There is no data to know those who have received the money. There is no database, deceptiveness and corruption may creep in; they might say they have disburse meanwhile those that are supposed to disburse might divert the money to their own pocket. They need to be careful”, he queried.
Nweze said people are doubting the intervention programmes because of the antecedents of such programmes.“The government needs to go back to database. Do we have the statistics of the unemployed? Are the unemployed registered? When did they register? What government should have done is, they know they made the campaign promises, but sorry we have looked at it, it is not working the way we thought it would work, apologize and move on”, he said.