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NBS report: Northern CSOs lament failure of poverty alleviation schemes, seek probe

By Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna), Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja) and Rauf Oyewole (Bauchi)
28 November 2022   |   4:25 am
A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) drawn from the 19 Northern states and Abuja, has said the recent revelation that 133 million Nigerians are living below poverty line was a testament to the fact the social investment programmes of the present administration have failed to achieve its purpose.

Photo by – / AFP

• ‘No correlation between funds spent and poverty rate’
• North has not fared well in prosperity, says Dogara
• UNICEF: North lags behind in immunisation coverage as kids risk death over poor vaccination
• Discovery of oil in North a relief, to benefit all Nigerians, says Presidential Support Committee

A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) drawn from the 19 Northern states and Abuja, has said the recent revelation that 133 million Nigerians are living below poverty line was a testament to the fact the social investment programmes of the present administration have failed to achieve its purpose.

The CSOs, under the aegis of Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks, therefore, called on anti-graft agencies – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) – to investigate Federal Government’s spending on all social safety-nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects executed between 2015 and 2022, and also establish why poverty is on the increase, especially in the North.

Addressing journalists in Abuja at the weekend on behalf of 20 Chairmen/Coordinators of the 19 Northern States and FCT CSOs, Chairman of the coalition and President, Kano Civil Society Forum, Ambassador Ibrahim Waiya, wondered why poverty rates in the country kept increasing despite huge sums spent on social investment programmes.

While lamenting that 65 per cent of the poor, representing 86 million people live in the North, he stressed that all 18 presidential candidates must explain to Nigerians their intentions on how to tackle increasing poverty in the country and their development agenda for Northern Nigeria.

“The most recent figures made available by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) referred to as Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) survey, has unambiguously indicated that things are worse than what they were formerly in 2015. The results of this survey among other issues have exposed the effects of corruption, as 63 per cent of persons living within Nigeria, representing 133 million people, are multi-dimensionally poor, while the 65 per cent of the poor, representing 86 million people live in the North.

“This survey, which was carried out by a government-owned agency even proved beyond reasonable doubt that the world had underestimated the poverty rating of Nigeria, as reported on World Poverty Clock.

“Riding on the above, it is becoming more evident that, the crusade against corruption in Nigeria, is most needed now, as most of the factors that contribute to the level of poverty in Nigeria, are attributed to the high level of corruption in governance.

“Considering the huge investment of this government on social investment programmes, we urge the leadership of anti-graft agencies such as EFFC and ICPC to conduct a discrete investigation on the funds claimed to have been disbursed by some Federal Government Ministries and Agencies, to find out what has gone wrong. The investigation into this matter is significant, as there is no correlation between the funds invested in the social protection programmes and the increased rate of poverty in the country, ” Waya said.

ALSO, former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has berated Northern leaders for doing nothing to assuage the pains of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who he said are largely Northerners. Dogara also lamented that the North has not fared well in prosperity, as the indices of development did not favour the region.

Dogara stated this while delivering a paper titled ‘the IDP Question as a stain on our Conscience’ at the weekend during the 7th Henna Balls Awards Night organised by Torzali Magazine in Abuja.

He said that the night has fallen on Nigeria, especially the North. “It’s a night so tepid for most of our people so much so that they crave cruel kindness, just something that has meaning even if it’s meaningless.

“If you look at the condition of Nigeria, especially the Northeast and you don’t feel the pains, you are the one that is sick. No thanks to the activities of these dishevelled terrorists or bandits.

“We all know that the North bears nearly 90 per cent of the insecurity in the country. If estimates are anything to go by, not less than 50,000 Northerners have been killed while over three million have been displaced in the Northeast alone. No one has the record of Northern lives lost to rural banditry, farmer-herder clashes and ethno-religious conflicts.”

He added that the number grows exponentially when added to the above death occasioned by urban violence unleashed by an increasing army of mostly jobless youths suffering from substance use disorder.

He wondered that in the midst of all the crises, “what have we done as individuals and as the Northern establishment? I do not make any excuse, I am part of the establishment. We have done nothing to our collective shame! Imagine the Northern establishment had organised a submit where select IDPs from all the camps are invited to share their plight and thereafter establish a trust fund for IDPs in which every Northerner is required to pay in his/her month’s salary within a quarter while those who can give more, give as God lays it in their hearts.

“No doubt, if that had happened, we would have set aside enough funds to cater for the needs of all IDPs regardless of what the government chooses to do,” he added.

CLOSELY related to the poverty index, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that with only 36 per cent of children aged 12-23 months receiving all recommended vaccines, a substantial number of Nigerian children are at risk of death and disability from vaccine-preventable diseases.

The global body noted that the immunisation coverage in Nigeria is below the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), which exposes a huge number of children in the country to preventable diseases and deaths.

UNICEF Health Specialist, Port Harcourt Field Office, Eghe Abe, who sounded the warning at a one-day multi-zonal media dialogue with journalists on Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2021, disclosed that the figures from recent surveys indicated that 64 per cent of children aged 12-23 months did not receive all routine immunisations in the country.

Abe noted that the immunisation coverage varied across geopolitical zones with the North recording low rate of vaccination.

In his breakdown, he observed that “from the survey, only 32 per cent of children received all doses of vaccine in North Central. In the Northeast, only 24 per cent of children received all doses; while in the Northwest, only 25 per cent of children received all the doses.

“From the Southeast, 57 per cent of children received all doses of vaccine. The South-South recorded 49 per cent coverage, while in the Southwest, only 50 per cent of children received all the doses.”

He noted that the coverage figure was not good enough for children, stressing that more needed to be done by governments and all stakeholders to save Nigerian kids by getting them fully vaccinated to avert childhood killer diseases that are preventable with vaccines.

MEANWHILE, members of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC) have said the recent discovery of oil deposits in Bauchi and Gombe states will be for the benefit all Nigerians, adding that it will go a long way in boosting the country’s supply in the international crude oil market.

Speaking at a press conference in Kaduna at the weekend, the Director, Media and Publicity of PSC, Dr Kailani Muhammad, said the oil deposits found in these states are not for the states alone, but the entire country.

According to him, the President needs to be applauded for the feat in view of the fact that oil exploration began in the 1990s.

“Also, in 2005, President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the oil exploration to the New Nigeria Development company (NNDC). The exploration failed to yield any positive results until February 2, 2019, when President Muhammadu Buhari broke the jinx.

“The oil and gas discovered in Gombe and Bauchi states cannot be consumed by indigenes of the two states alone, it is for the benefit of the entire nation. We appeal to President Buhari to ensure that explorations in these new locations begin before he exits office in 2023.

“We hope that the discovery of these oil deposits in the North will put an end to the much touted and misplaced propaganda that the North is dependent on the South for sustenance because of its oil deposits.”