By Mary Ali.
Poverty, which connotes insufficiency of income, characterizes most developing economies including Nigeria. Therefore, there is no gainsaying the fact that the establishment of various poverty eradication programmes in the country are an advance in the right direction, laudable and welcome.
Since inception of democracy in May, 1999, Government has expressed deep concern about the rising incidence of poverty in Nigeria. The Government realized that if the worsening poverty situation is not checked, the future of the nation would be doomed.
In view of this, the Government has introduced a number of progammes and measures aimed at making a dent on poverty. In a bid to clip the wings of poverty, Government introduced the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) in 2000 which has as objective, the streamlining and rationalization of existing poverty alleviation institutions, and the coordinated implementation and monitoring of relevant schemes.
The establishment of the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) was an interim measure to address the problems of rising unemployment and crime, particularly among youths. It was ultimately aimed at increasing the welfare of Nigerians; raising effective demand in the economy; increasing the productiveness of the economy and drastically reducing the embarrassing crime trend in the society.
Government’s effort at eradicating poverty was heightened when in early 2001, the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) was established with terms of reference similar to the erstwhile Poverty Alleviation Programme. Essentially, the goals of NAPEP are coordination and monitoring of all poverty eradication activities in the country, which depict the institutionalization of Federal Government’s commitment to poverty eradication, empowerment of the poor to have a voice, thereby expressing their ideas and mass participation in the economic development process.
The National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) became the leading Government programme in building a sustainable relationship between the poor, the banking community, the private sector and the development partners.
Apart from establishment of NAPEP to midwife the alleviation of poverty, another noticeable effort of Federal Government in poverty alleviation is the partnering of agencies like Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and Industrial Training Fund (ITF) to adopt a holistic approach through empowerment programmes such as entrepreneurship training and skill acquisition programme and accessing of fund through Bank of Industry (BOI) and Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and micro-credit facility through micro-finance banks.
It is noteworthy that the objective of micro-credit facility was to serve as a catalyst for driving the economic development of our rural communities through the establishment of agro-allied processing industries. This is meant to create jobs and raise income levels coupled with the leveraging of outputs of rural farmers and popularizing the use of micro-credit.
When one conjoins the past with the present and attempt predicting the future, it is possible to foresee a scenario in which empowerment programme would be sustained by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari targeting the poorest of the poor, curbing inter-generational transfer of poverty and providing grants to poor households to invest in human capital development of their children or wards.
At this juncture, it is important to point out that for a meaningful dent on poverty, it is necessary for poverty eradication programmes and measures to be implemented within the framework of good governance, transparency, accountability, sound economic management, anti-corruption crusade and social responsibility, among others.
In conclusion, one is positive that the transfer of baton in as much as poverty alleviation is concerned, from one regime to the other and sustenance of institutional structures for combating poverty through an established government agency would culminate in significant breakthrough in the foreseeable future.
Be this as it may, there would be generation of income-earning opportunities for the poor, job creation, agriculture and food security, natural resources management, human capital development alongside with provision of social infrastructure and basic amenities.
Mary Ali writes from Federal Ministry of Information Public Communications Department.