FG spends N500b yearly on poor, vulnerable Nigerians – Minister
‘Despite Measures, 90m Still In Abject Poverty’
The Federal Government injects over $1 billion (about N500 billion) into the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) yearly for positive change in the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable in the country.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja while flagging off a programme aimed at training a total of 1,850 youths from across the country on Point-of-Sale (POS) business.
According to the minister, the training will enable the beneficiaries to meet the minimum technical and business requirements for becoming mobile money agents and enhance their entrepreneurial competences.
She said: “The gesture, being carried out under the Mobile Money Agents Programme (MMAP), introduced in 2020 to sustain the social inclusion agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, would see the beneficiaries provided with starter packs that include a POS machine, fingerprint scanner, furniture and umbrella, as well as a modest capital of N20,000.”
She noted that the gesture was part of the Buhari administration’s desire to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
BUT the government’s claim did not go down well with stakeholders, who argue that all the measure put up by government to alleviate poverty have not made any impact on the citizens.
According to the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn-Engaged Citizen Pillar (PERL-ECP), an estimated 90 million people, almost half of Nigeria’s population, live in abject poverty, despite recent developments in socio-economic development in the country.
PERL-ECP, a five-year governance programme funded by the United Kingdom (UK) Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office to encourage growth and decrease poverty, noted that the figures were worrisome.
At an event organised to help Nigeria utilise her resources well for public good and development through citizen participation, the National Team Leader of PERL-ECP, Dr. Adayi Ode, lamented the incessant budget deficits of over N5 trillion in two years.
The Head of Governance, British High Commission, Lucy Haye, said her country had been supporting Nigeria to prudently manage, increase its revenue generation and improve on the budgeting process in the past 20 years. She added that the nation’s revenue base is one of the lowest in Africa.
Stakeholders from the academia, media and the business community sought a tax policy that will be favourable to all tiers of government, rather than the current trend that favours the Federal Government.
ALSO, Eze Onyekpere of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) said since the start of the different measures, poverty in Nigeria is on the rise.
“Spending borrowed funds on palliatives that are very poorly targeted is not a good poverty reduction strategy.
This is about handouts that are not sustainable over the medium and long term. These palliatives have failed to build human capacity that moves Nigeria’s poor out of poverty. There is no structural and transformative intervention to get the poor to add value, create wealth and acquire skills, which will guarantee their exit from poverty.
“A good part of this expenditure such as Tradermoni, is politically-motivated and only targeted to win votes during election. They all stopped after the elections.
“Poverty has increased, instead of reducing since the start of the palliatives. The increase in poverty levels has been accentuated by insecurity in the country where farmers and artisans cannot engage in lawful pursuits due to the fear of losing life and limb.”