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BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Successive governments in Nigeria have tried to resolve some societal problems by enacting or putting into place different policies at one time or the other. For example, in order to reduce the high rate of poverty in the country, the Federal Government introduced some policies aimed at reducing the poverty level by 2010.
This was the case in Asari-Toru local government area of Rivers State. It is true that the Asari – Toru Local Government council both past and present have embarked on several developmental policies. Nevertheless, the incidence and scourge of poverty have worsened over the years.
The people from that area still live in abject poverty, no good and accessible roads, no good health care facilities, no better pipe borne water, the people depend solely on water from the well which has led to sickness and diseases because it is not well treated and so prone to water borne diseases; also no sound electricity system put in place etc.
With all the different policies, the people still live in abject suffering, like the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) put in place by this present administration also in an effort to reduce poverty, what are the aspect of halving the incidence of poverty by 2015, we shall treat this in our subsequent writing, because the question is pertinent to the issue that, since the creation of the local government, the yearning and aspiration of the people have not been met. They still wallow in poverty.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The study is specifically geared towards providing tentative answers to the following questions:
- What factor weakens the National Poverty Eradication Programmes and other policies geared towards poverty alleviation and grass-root development.
- What are the prospects of the poverty alleviation policies like NAPEP put in place to halve poverty in the grass-roots areas by 2010?
- What are the measures put in place to be used in implementing the policy of poverty alleviation in the grass-root areas?
- Howe far has the policy of NAPEP faired so far in its different programmes, and what is the importance of this public policy programme as a tool for grass-root development especially in ASALGA L. G. A. of Rivers – State.
OBJECTIVES OF STUDY:
The aim of this study is to highlight the significant role of public policy and grass-root development in Nigeria, with a special focus on the National Poverty Eradication Programme on Asari – Toru local government area.
Secondly, is to examine if the policy measures used in implementing its policies are really the best suitable measures that would enhance development and reduce poverty rate in the grass-root level.
Thirdly, is to determine the extent at which the poverty eradication programme have been carried out in the grass-root level and explain if really it has succeeded in its implementation or its failures.
Fourthly, is to show the prospect of NAPEP put in place to fight poverty in the local government levels etc.
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY:
The purpose of this study is to show and justify the importance of public policy to the grass-root people.
The study is very necessary because it will not only tell us how public policy on poverty alleviation has performed in the local government levels but it will also shed light on the way out towards poverty alleviation. Also, it will form a basis for further research on poverty alleviation and other related policies through findings and researches.
To justify the importance of the policy of poverty alleviation, the bottom-up approach to the programme implementation and monitoring should be looked into.
Also, the study is going to show, in view of the fact that poverty is a phenomenon which has threatened the survival of mankind especially in the rural or grass-root areas, some development effort to alleviate poverty embarked upon by the government through various programmes, prominent among them are:-
- Operation Service to our people.
- Rural Electrification projects.
- Primary Health Care Projects.
- Portable Drinking Water Projects.
- The National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP)
- The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).
All these were programmes put in place by government in one time or the other to improve the living standard of the people at the grass-root level. So, this study will critically appraise them.
At the end of this work, policy makers and other researchers will find this study very relevant if properly looked into, because it is going to provide answers to policy problems and implementation in the grass-root level.
The importance of literature review is that, it builds a link between previous intellectual works and the current attempts. So the literature review will focus on the rigorous appraisal of poverty alleviation.
Usman, S. (2001: 1 – 3) has opined that whether used in a relative or absolute sense, poverty denotes a situation in which the individual does not enjoy the minimum acceptable standard of living as defined by the World Bank, Poverty can be due to variety of causes, including unemployment and low pay, particularly in a generally weak environment such as the grass-root area.
He further stated that poverty is considered a global phenomenon which threatens the survival of mankind, the United Nations declared 1996 the International year for the eradication of poverty, with every 17th, of October every year as the date for poverty eradication day, and also 1997 – 2006 as the decade for Eradication of Poverty. In pursuance of this target, government and civil society in the country have set up different polices to curb the poverty problem.
Aliu (2001: 12), speaking on the nature of involvement of beneficiaries, emphasized that, experience from the past poverty alleviation programmes has shown the inability to involve the people in their community planning and implementation towards poverty alleviation. However, he stated that one of the main focuses of the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) is the adoption of the bottom-up approach to programme implementation and monitoring.
Also, there is need to extend the concept to include direct participation of the beneficiaries or benefiting communities in project identification. This non –involvement has been detraction from appropriateness of projects as well as their sustainability.
This is because the top – down approach widely adopted in project identifications and selection has often led to beneficiaries not associating themselves with such projects. Therefore, there should be sufficient participation of the grass-roots people in the identification and implementation of projects affecting them. This will not only increase their commitment but will also de-emphasize the erst while perception of such programmes as conduit pipes for national cake sharing.
Obasi, (1998: 10 – 12) writing on the state of the nation of (SAP), has outlined the characteristics of the country which gave rise to SAP as follows:
- The economy was facing a crisis of dwindling revenue from oil the nation’s major foreign exchange.
- There was high rate of unemployment in the country, and corruption was pervasive.
- The per-capital income was rapidly decreasing even as there was high rate of inflation, coupled with a very high level of domestic and foreign debt.
He further observed that SAP was not a good omen for the country especially the Nigeria Labour, which said SAP affected adversely and further marginalized the workers, which led to hardships.
Okongwu, C. (1987: 4), the then Minister of Finance, commented on poverty alleviation policy that they combine a nexus of measures aimed at promoting economic efficiency and long term growth with stabilization policies designed to restore balance of payment equilibrium and price stability, which never yielded any positive effect.
Edesiri, (1986: 16), speaking on the different policies put in place, said like the River Basin Development Authority (RBDA), which was given the responsibility to develop, irrigate and cultivate numerous river basins in the country especially the Niger Delta city area failed to solve the problems.
That inspire of the objectives of the River Basin development Authority, water problem still remain a big log in the wheels of farmers. Even in the catmint areas of the authority most bore-holes are dry. This adversely affects the irrigation prospect of the farmers and farms.
The poor performance of the authority has compelled government to sell off some of the authority’s property via public auction.
On NAPEP Promise Keeper Programme (P.K.P), Dr. Magnus Kpakol who is National co-ordinator of NAPEP re-affirmed that the partnership with religious bodies would involve the provision of matching funds to an amount raised by a religious group to provide interest free – micro credit to its members who fall into the provisions categories. That he said would empower the poor by developing a working partnership with other viable sources in the fight against poverty.
Speaking on the different projects of NAPEP, Dr. Kpakol said, like under the farmers empowerment programme, NAPEP has disbursed N240 million and another N250 million for the capacity acquisition programme.
The former chief Economic Adviser to the president further stated that the old set-up in the programme was perceived by beneficiaries as an agency to be ripped off.
He said the sad development largely affected the Keke-NAPEP project, which beneficiaries dishonestly almost ruined. Which he said they have not recorded enough success in that area, that is because of the way it was done, people took the vehicle and disappeared to another part of the country.
Olawoja Ajobola, from Lagos state speaking on poverty alleviation programme in the (Guardian of Friday, May 30, 2003 page 17), cried out that their monthly N10,000 stipend which NAPEP was supposed to have paid to them, has not been paid for the past eight (8) month and no concrete effort has been made to prepare them for the loan they are to collect at the expiration of the two (2) years Mandatory Attachment Programme (MAP), which was supposed to be in February 2004.
Emeka, Onuforo (Guardian, Thursday, August 4, 2005), writes on “NAPEP boss task Governor’s over poverty eradication”, said the National coordinator of NAPEP, Dr. Magnus Kpakol speaking in a programme tasks a group of governors in Kaduna to join hand with the Federal Government in waving good bye to poverty.
Dr. Kpakol told the governors that the new NAPEP initiative would provide economic empowerment to the poor in Nigeria by developing a winning partnership with other sources of support in the fight against poverty, he added that other funds would be sourced from interested Nigerians abroad for the provisions of essential infrastructure in their communities back here in Nigeria.
The primary targets of NAPEP, Kpakol continued are the women, the youths and farmers, and others are trainees of the local government poverty reduction programmes.
Dr. Kpakol also told the governors that NAPEP is also giving N500 million for evolving credit around the country, which is hoped to generate savings of over say N50 million.
NAPEP, he said now focuses on self reliance and the ‘can do’ spirit and transform the idea that everyone is a participant in the fight against poverty which he said would create a winning strategy by generating economic activities that would in turn assure well-being and guarantee sustainability of efforts aimed at achieving the desired objectives of attaining comfortable standard of living for the poor in Nigeria, he asserted.
These are what people have said concerning public policy in respect to poverty alleviation in the country.
i) Lack of consultation with elders, chiefs and community leaders in the local government areas is responsible for the failure of public policies.
ii) Ignorance on the part of the citizens at the grass-root level, due to poor orientation on the part of policy officials like. NAPEP officials and other agencies cause the low performance of poverty alleviation programmes.
iii) High level of corruption on the part of NAPEP officials and the beneficiaries, seems to hamper the success of poverty alleviation programmes.
iv) Bad public policy programme and implementation due to selfish interest of policy formulators, tends to be the cause of high rate of poverty levels in grass-root areas.
i) Theoretical Frame Work:
A study that has to do with public policy and grass-root development has to be examined against background of a social and sound theoretical orientation.
This study, therefore will be guided by the “FUNCTIONAL APPROACH”, to local government performance. The approach assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the local government implementation of public policy and grass-root development in relation to poverty alleviation programmes in Asari-Toru local government area of Rivers State.
“It is the view of the functionalist approach that the society is conceptualized as a system of social relationship and cluster of relationship (institution) features in the manner which it is organized into an ordered and self maintaining entity, a common pattern of norms and values which ensures both the reciprocal interdepence of its parts and consequent integration of the whole”. Paul Filumer and Divid Silverman, (1972: 57).
Pulbic policy and implementation as a tool for grass-root development has to be viewed using the functional approach. Therefore, in the survival of grass-root system by the way of its operations, which the policy implementers perform vis –a – vis the required condition of their existence, the functional approach is the ideal type of theory to be applied.
ii) Method of Data Collection:
This section is designed specifically to highlight the procedures and instrument employed in getting relevant information pertinent to the study.
Sources of Data: Primary and Secondary sources of data would be relevant in carrying out this research.
The primary sources of data helps to source for reliable and valuable primary data which is necessary for the study. It entails oral interview like questionnaires, which would be design with extra care to avoid ambiguity, bias and misleading questions.
The secondary sources of data collection would supplement the information provided by the primary sources for use. It could be magazines, journals, form newspapers, textbooks and other related unpublished materials etc.
- Method of Data Analysis:
The nature of data generated determines the types of statistical techniques to be used in data analysis. Due to the nature of the hypotheses and the method of data collection the “inferential statistical tool method” will be used to help make proper predications and operaliziations about the public policy and grass-root development in respect to the NAPEP performance.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF STUDY:
The study is limited to Asari-Toru local government area of Rivers State, and its public policy and grass-root development programme, a critical appraisal of the National Poverty Eradication Programme while, in the process of the research many hitches were encountered, like the issue of finance, which is the bedrock of any good research work or study, because without the needed, or due to financial constraint, getting a first hand information was difficult. This also hindered traveling to some designated areas for getting some primary information coupled with the hard economic situations. So, finance and transportation problems cause some kind of hindrances. Also was the issue of time constraints. These hampered going to the grass-root area for a better assement and getting of information and mostly was the fact that most of them even the local government’s did not have websites for easy information dissemination.
CLARIFICATION OF KEY CONCEPTS:
- DATA: These are raw informations gathered.
- IMPLEMENTATION: The translation of public policy objectives into action leading to the achievement of set objectives, expressed by policy makers.
- NAPEP: National Poverty Eradication Programme, set up in 2001 by the Obasanjo led administration to curb the poverty situation in the country.
- NAPEC: National Poverty Eradication Council. It is the apex body for the formulation of policies on poverty in Nigeria.
- THEORY: It is a set of interelated construct, delimitation and preposition that present the systematic view of phenomenon by specifying relationship among variables with the purpose of explaining and predicting the phenomenon.
- POLICY: This is decision making on what should be done and how, when and where? It involves development strategy and procedures.
- GRASS-ROOT: This can be describe as rural areas or group of persons living in an existing environment.
Ajobola, O. (2003), NAPEP. The Guardian Friday, May 30 page 17.
Aliu, A. (2001), National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), Completion, implementation, coordination and monitoring, NAPEP Secretariate, Abuja.
Edesiri, (1986): “Hunger in the land”, The African Guardian, Lagos. October, 23.
Emeka, A. (2005); Governors task on Poverty Eradication. The Guardian, Thursday page 27.
Leicheter, H. (1979); A Comparative Approach to Policy Analysis. Health Care Delivery in Four Nations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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