AN APPRAISAL OF THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN NIGERIA

AN APPRAISAL OF THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT IN POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

The study is to appraise the role of government in poverty alleviation in Nigeria with a special reference to National Poverty Eradication Programme NAPEP. The research introduces the background of the study in chapter one and brief historical background. Some of the objectives of this study is to identify the impact of NAPEP in the eradicating poverty in Nigeria, strategies for poverty reduction,  to also identify the various government programmes on poverty alleviations and to ascertain whether the programme, NAPEP’s skill acquisition and youth empowerment programmes has made positive impact people.  The reviewed of related literature were carry out in the study. The researcher used primary and secondary source of data for collection of data from the respondents. The responses from the administered questionnaire were analyses in chapter four and hypothesis formulated in chapter one were tested and the decision were made and alternative hypothesis was accepted and the null hypothesis was rejected. From the study it was discovered that the empowerment programmes of government have lifted a lot of the citizens out of abject poverty. The findings also show that lack of proper implementation of government policies on poverty alleviation has hindered the achievement of the programme. It was also discovered that one of the basic problems identified to be militating against the efficient operations of the programme is “inadequate facilities and logistic support”. This it was observed has negatively affected effective operations of the programme which is rural based. Based on the findings it was recommended that necessary facilities, equipments and logistics should be provided to the programme to enhance better performance most especially if the self-reliance objective of the programmes is to be achieved. The credit schemes should be properly funded, strengthened and made to provide basic loans to grandaunts of various skill acquisition programmes, to enable them establish own business. Also, it was recommended that there is the need for an effective monitoring of the entire activities of the programme at all stages of implementation. In this way, diversion of fund/resources to other uses as well as mismanagement of resources will be checked. As such, the monitoring department of this programme should be made more efficient and effective in identification of problems and subsequently proffering workable remedial solutions.

CHAPTER ONE

1.0       INTRODUCTION

One of the primary purposes of every government is to improve the welfare of its citizenry. The basic idea of welfarism encompasses all concerted efforts directed towards the betterment and the improvement of the living standard of the people thereby achieving economic development.  Nigeria is a country endowed with abundant human, material and natural resources. These vast resources are capable of forming a solid base for socioeconomic development, granted political leadership, good governance and exemplary leadership as well as the development in human skills. Nigeria has a high potential of becoming a great nation.

At independence, Nigeria had a high expectation of launching into a take-off stage within a reasonable period of time. However, the economy was dualistic with a large traditional agricultural-based rural sector and a small modern urban sector. Most of the manufacturing industries and almost all the modern infrastructures were located in the urban areas. The majority of the people lived and farmed in the rural areas with little or no economic/social infrastructure, neither had they the required skills to develop themselves.

The developmental challenges that face the post-independence government were enormous. These developmental challenges included at the minimum, the provision of education and health services to the people, the provision of social and economic infrastructures to the vast majority of the people, the management of the vast human and material resources and the development of people’s skills toward enhancing their economic wellbeing. It is worth noting that the manner in which some of these challenges were addressed was the adoption of a four-year demand management economic policy in the form of economic stabilization Act of 1982, the austerity programme of 1984 and the National Economic Emergency Measures of 1985 for economic recovery and self-reliance. But all had only marginal effects because of lack of continuity in past policies. And a two-year Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) had to be adopted to broaden the productive and resource base of the economy, eliminate distortion, reduce the role of government, encourage competition and make the economy self-reliant.

The inability of SAP to achieve its stated objectives was attributed to its short-time frame, and the poor sequencing of its reform, couple with the general poor implementation of policies, policy instability and lack of political will of most administration to continue with the existing policies.

It is obvious that due to policy errors, stay-maid by non-continuity in the existing policies of the past, the Nigerian economy suffered from fundamental structural defects and remained in a persistent state of disequilibrium. The productive and technological base was weak due to non-policy programmes on the development of people’s potentials, initiative and skills, the infrastructures that were urban-based were poor, inadequate and lack of maintenance, the effectiveness of incentives was low, giving rise to inadequate utilization of the factors of production.

The need for policy redirection in Nigeria became more obvious with the revelation of the consequence of the past policy errors. This policy redirection becomes imperative because, the improvement in the living condition of the people in every nation is often the major concern of every good government. Emphasis were therefore redirected on policy programmes that will develop the people’s skills, initiative, creativity and potentials with a view of empowering them to become economically productive and self-reliance mainly because of

-           The problem of rural/urban migration which has reduced the number of youthful and vibrant members of the rural community.

-           The reduction of the pressure poor people have on their representatives in government as well as their local council administration.

-           The reduction in the number of unemployed that work in the agricultural sector in most rural areas.

-            The ever increasing number of the poor in the country.

Statistics shows, that this high level of poverty ranges between 65-75 percent in rural areas, indeed this percentage of the poor have been increasing over the decades in the country. At any rate, it is the aforementioned reasons that policy programmes on vocational skills acquisition and youth empowerment for self-reliance, self-development and self-sustenance has become an important concerned of every government in Nigeria. According to Prof Jery Gana, this concerned becomes distinct pre-occupation and actually attain the highest priority rating under the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida. To him, never before had the country witnessed the kind of concerted and comprehensive war which the administration relentlessly wedged against the rural poverty, against the deprivation of the people and against the powerlessness of the people.

As a matter of fact, until the mid-1980s there was no comprehensive national policy on youth empowerment, vocational skills development/acquisition for self-reliance, although various sectoral policies often touched on human development. Yet there has been effort to fashion these desperate ideas of human development via skills acquisition for youth into appropriate objectives and coherent strategies and action for empowerment in Nigeria.

It is in realization of the above that the government of General Ibrahirn Babangida through the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) made ‘self reliance’ the core of its policy programme. Thus, the Directorate apart from vocational skills development and youth empowerment was also charged with responsibility of ‘creating the enabling environment that will allow the youth to release their creative energies and exercise their initiative in pursuing their developmental objectives”. Taken as its first value, the creation of enabling environment will involve mobilizing the people, putting in place ‘all the skills acquisition/training facilities the people needed to pursue and/or achieve their developmental objectives.

The Directorate continued with its skill acquisition and empowerment programme. But as has been the practice of non-continuity in the existing policies, the Obasanjo administration in 2002 introduced the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) with self-reliance as its core objective. Thus, NAPEP’s chief aim is skill acquisition and youth empowerment.

Expectedly, NAPEP has key objectives and activities of vocational skills development/acquisition and empowerment of Nigerian youth for self-reliance, self-sustenance and self employment thus uplifting their socio-economic wellbeing. The program seeks to address the twin problems of unemployment and poverty in Nigeria.

1.1       National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP)

NAPEP was established in 2001.  Different ministries and agencies were recognized as core poverty alleviation ministries and agencies.  Some of these ministries and agencies are:  Agricultural and Rural Development, Education, water resources, Industry, employment, labor and productivity.

Women affairs and youth development, health, NACRDB, NDE etc. Some of the functions of NAPEP through the different ministries and agencies are:

a.                     Capacity building and vocational training through the capacity acquisition  programme in the major pro-occupations of the nation’s labor force e.g. plumbing, glazing and painting, mechanical, electrical and electronics technicians apprenticeship. 

b.                     Data generation and statistics on employment among, by  maintaining a record of unemployment among  youth and others at the “labor office in each state and local government council”.

c.                     Job and employment opportunity creation.  This is to expose as many youth as possible to the opportunities for or the –job training and skills acquisition and concurrently maximize employment opportunities.

d.                     Promotion of awareness in the activities and opportunities in the expiration of solid minerals resources for employment and promotion investment.

e.                     Co-ordination and control of activities in teaching and application of science and technology in the locality.

f.                      Enterprises development and promotion like establishment of local resource based cottage industries.

g.                     Rural infrastructural development, like power supply, water supply, transportation, housing, communications and farm development etc.

Social welfare services like, quality special education, quality health care delivery services, rehabilitation programmes for destitute and the disabled, credit delivery for all group.

Despite the excess of poverty alleviation programmes which past governments had initiated and implemented, by 1999 when the Obasanjo administration came to power a World Bank’s report indicated that Nigeria’s Human Development Index (HDI) was only 0.416 and that about 70 per cent of the population was vegetating below the bread line.

These alarming indicators prompted the government to review the existing poverty alleviation schemes with a view to harmonising them and improving on them. Three presidential panels were set up in this regard.

They were: the Presidential Panel on the Rationalisation and Harmonisation of Poverty Alleviation and Agencies headed by Alhaji Ahmed Joda; Presidential Technical Committee on the Review of all Poverty Alleviation Programmes headed by Professor Ango Abdullahi; and Committees on Youth Policy, Concept of the Youth Empowerment Scheme and the Blueprint for Poverty Eradication Programme headed by Professor A.B. Aborishade.

The findings and recommendations of these presidential panels coalesced in the formation of the National Poverty Alleviation Programme (NAPEP) in January 2001. This new scheme has been structured to integrate four sectoral schemes.

The first is the Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES), which is concerned with providing unemployed youth opportu


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