Mixed reactions trail FG’s N5000 to vulnerable Nigerians
Sometime in 2016, social media, particularly twitter, was agog with ‘My 5k’ campaign; it trended like a wildfire all through that period. From across the country, with massive support from those in the diaspora, young Nigerians called out the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government for not fulfilling its N5000 per month campaign promise to Nigerians.
Though Mr. President reportedly distanced himself from the N5000 campaign promise, which he allegedly tagged ‘APC promise,’ many observers wondered if there’s a difference from the president and the party through which he climbed to power. In fact, that actually earned the party a new nickname in the local parlance: All Promises Cancelled (APC).
But to the surprise of many, the Federal Government took the nation by surprise in the New Year, when it announced the commencement of N5000 per month to venerable Nigerians, and not jobless people like many had hoped.
Since that public announcement, with a pilot phase to cover nine states, mixed reactions have continued to trail the decision by the FG to commence the policy.
Speaking to The Guardian, Lagos-based Media/Communications practitioner, Femi Salawu, is of the opinion that N5,000 in the hands of vulnerable and poor person has more than just the actual value of the money. He, however, noted that the policy would be best appreciated if you put into consideration that this class of people are based in the rural areas.
“At their level, purchasing power is very low and so is the price of goods and services; this means that they can achieve a lot with that amount. On the strength of this, I say kudos to the Federal Government on this initiative. I would just suggest that option should be available for people in this category to draw bi-annual or annual amounts of N30, 000 or N60, 000 respectively. This will enable them to achieve more. Think of some areas in Ogun State where a plot of land go for as low as N120,000 and you will get my picture clearer.
Salawu called on NGOs and civil society groups to support the initiative by ensuring that due process would be followed in the execution.“It will also go a long way for NGOs and other bodies to support the effort of government with grassroots financial advisory broken down into the language, which these people understand. I think this is a good start that can be used to build upon for social security as we see in developed countries,” he said.
But the Publisher of Luxury Reporter, Funke Osae-Brown, totally disagrees with the decision by the FG to pay N5000 to the poor. “I don’t like the idea of paying N5000; how long will it take before the recipient finishes it? That’s not a lasting solution to combating poverty. What FG needs to do is to create jobs and encourage graduates to be employers of labour by having a mindset to start their own businesses. We need enabling environment for SMEs to thrive. What will N5000 buy with this present economy? I can assure you it will finish the same day the recipient gets it,” she said.
For Bolaji Abimbola, Managing Director, Integrated Indigo Limited, anybody who says the N5000 is too meagre has never tasted abject poverty before. For him, the fact that one million Nigerians, who hitherto have no hope of any monthly income, would receive N5000 is a good poverty alleviation initiative.
“This implies monthly injection of N5billion into the bottom of the pyramid of the economy. Most people criticising this policy should start their own personal CSR by helping someone close to them, giving them N5,000 monthly and see the difference it can make. However, the government must ensure that this money only goes to those that needs and deserves it,” he said.
Reacting to the development, Ugochukwu Favour said, “it’s true that FG is trying to fulfill that very area of campaign promise it made, since it was made so loud. I first liked how President Buhari kept mute to it by letting Nigerians know that his party made it as a promise. I was surprised to see through in some online updates that they are going on with it. I was like, is this not a distraction? The truth remains that, no matter the clarity of it, it will be misunderstood; even the opposition may score points through it,” he said.
While urging Nigerians to support the government in our little way, Ugochukwu said, “this is not the government of APC or PDP, but the one for all Nigerians. If the economy is good or bad, it is something we will all be dealing with as a people. But instead of such policy, the FG could have made it clear that it is redirecting the fund into the scheme to empower SMEs owned by young, vibrant and innovative Nigerians. Especially, an agency should have been created to checkmate this exercise,” he said.
For Nollywood filmmaker Sani Mu’azu, the process is not clear yet. “Is the N5000 grants or loans? Is the money tied to any conditions? What are the selection criteria? What are the indices considered? How long is this payment going to last? What are the deliverables expected of those that are going to receive the money? How is the Government going to determine when to stop these disbursements? There are questions that we need to ask,” he said.
For Lolade Nwanze, a lot of Nigerians terribly need alleviation. As much as it is forever sensible to teach a man to fish rather than giving him fish, Nwanze noted that, if this stipend is indeed being paid to the poor, it is a good deed.
“I know that part of government responsibility is to create an enabling environment for citizens to thrive as against giving hand outs. I’m also realistic enough to know that to insist on that ‘enabling environment’ is to wait for another government dispensation; as such, anything that makes people’s welfare better in the interim, is welcomed.”
She, however, called on government at all levels to come up with policies that will support the growth of small businesses across the country.“Government at all levels kill small businesses with multiple taxation and countless levies because they don’t want people to be self-sufficient. On the other hand, if they decide not to give this welfare support, the money will go to other unaccountable uses. So, please, even if this month’s N5000 is the only one that is ever paid to the poor, let it be,” she said.
In her remarks, Blessing Nwobodo-Itua is of the opinion that the policy is a good one for the country, if it will be well implemented.“My only worry is the implementation; just hope it doesn’t turn out another means through which some certain people will use in syphoning money. Again, how long will this last before government says it has no money to continue the scheme? Above all, the most important thing for this government to do is create the enabling environment for investment and job opportunities. The government should come up policies that will support the entrepreneurial spirit of Nigerian youth,” she said.
However, for Lorenzo Menakaya, Director of Programmes, Lion FM, Nsukka, the first question is to find out who is poor or not poor.“Who are they calling the poor? We have the working-class poor man whom the bad roads have chopped the soles of his shoes to the point where he walks like he’s barefoot. And they even used the term ‘poorest’; I wonder how they will determine that. Then, if they are able to get it right, please what is N5000 going to do for them in this economy? And which ministry or government agency will manage the sharing without diverting the funds to some other accounts not listed? I fear the money might not get to the real poor people, he lamented.
He noted that free money could help young people stay afloat, adding, “I remember many of my friends back in school survived on bursary by their state government; some countries of the world also give stipends to citizens living below the line. So, the only reason I will support this is, if you don’t accept the N5000, the money won’t still be used for your good. So, take it, if they give you.”Menakaya urged the government to come up with genuine policies that will enhance the living standards of the poor.