The two-sides of Buhari’s attempt to lift 100m Nigerians out of poverty

Nigeria is recognised as the largest economy in Africa (now in its worst recession in more than 20 years); yet, regarded as the poverty capital of the world. According to research, about 50% (over 100 million) of the country’s population lives in extreme poverty despite its mineral wealth. And this is due to the high level of corruption, unemployment and inequitable distribution of the nation’s resources. 

To lift its citizens out of poverty, the Buhari administration has launched a variety of intervention programmes which some Nigerians have benefitted from. They include the N-Power programme, which is the government’s job creation and empowerment initiative for the youth. The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) – a microcredit finance scheme for entrepreneurs. While the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), is the government’s poverty alleviation scheme targeted at primary school pupils. 

There is also the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) – a government initiative created to boost the Nigerian economy through leverage and access to finance for youth. The fund hopes to serve as a catalyst to unleash the potential of the youth and enable many of them build businesses that will increase the employment rate.

Also, the FGN SPECIAL INTERVENTION FUND FOR MSMEs (National Enterprise Development Programme) – a Federal Government initiative to provide subsidised loans to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) at single digit (9% per annum) all-inclusive interest rate. The Fund is also to cater for applications received from SMEDAN under the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) Scheme.

The Youth Empowerment in the Agricultural Program (YEAP) YEAP was designed in 2013 to increase decent rural employment opportunities for Nigerian youth along area-based priority agricultural value chains. 

To further these initiatives, President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday, December 10, 2020, took to his Twitter page to announce to Nigerians what his government is doing to help more Nigerians benefit from these programmes to close the poverty gap.

The president’s tweet was met with mixed reactions. While some Nigerians acknowledge his administration’s effort at empowering the citizenry, others think the government has not done enough as it relates to the welfare of its citizens.

While these intervention programmes may be helping to improve the living standard of some Nigerians, there is a need for the government to address the challenges that have either hindered many Nigerians from benefiting from these programmes or denied beneficiaries their entitlements.

The N-Power programme, for instance, which is geared towards reducing the high rate of unemployment among tertiary institution graduates, is said to be plagued with poor management that threatens its smooth functioning, including the non-payment of stipends to some of the beneficiaries. 

The GEEP, on the other hand, enables farmers, traders and artisans to gain access to interest-free and collateral-free loans, which solves the collateral problem that many people cannot afford. While the home-grown school feeding programme meant to tackle poverty and improve food security and the health and education of children is also affected by poor management and misappropriation of funds.

To make these programmes more impactful in alleviating poverty, the government needs to address these challenges and deploy more competent hands to effectively manage them and ensure that more Nigerians benefit from its poverty alleviation schemes – that is if the intent is really to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.

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