The Impact Of Government’s Poverty Reduction Programmes In Niger State
This study examined the Impact of Government’s Poverty Reduction Programmes in Niger State; A case study of Suleja Local Government area, between 2006 and 2008. Here some programmes like the training of women in beads making,provision of micro finance loans to the poor and the establishment of various women/youths skills acquisition centres were put in place.The question or problem under investigation was like this’ “Did the participation of the poor in poverty reduction Programmes (NEEDS) in Suleja Local Government area of Niger State, reduce their level of poverty? More especially did the participation of the poor in the training of women in beads making; provision of micro-finance loans to the poor; and the establishment of various women/youths skill acquisition centre reduce the level of poverty of the poor participants?;
In carrying out the investigation, the method employed in data collections were, the use of questionnaires designed to capture the needed responses from both the beneficiaries and some government officials, Focused Group Discussions (FGD) was also used coupled with the observation of the physical environment of the area under study by the researcher and finally verbal interviews of one on one.
As for the analysis, the use of tabular presentation and simple percentages of figures, were used in testing the hypothesis.
The research design used was the One-Group-Pre-Test, Post-Test of O1 X O2. In this design, a simple group was compared with itself. This design determined the reliability and validity of data collected from various sources were not only accurate, but authentic and the question measures what it was set out to measure.
The major findings revealed the following:
- Within the period (2006 – 2008) under study, the poverty reduction programme has only lasted for three years.
This revealed that some of the poor people in Suleja L.G.A participated in the programme, and some were given loans to establish one business or the other.
- The programme lacked continuity in office of officers involved in the programme. Again, this also revealed that due to the fact that officers come and go with the government that put them in position of authority, the lasting effect of the programme became impossible.
- The programme was not meant for the poor in the areas as such. The study revealed that some of the poor ones whom the programme was supposed to be meant for, were not even aware of the programme, rather the well off and the political elites benefited most.
- Above, all the finding revealed that the governments poverty reduction programme in beads making; provision of micro-finance loans, loans to the poor and the establishment of various women/youths skills acquisition centred reduced the poverty of the poor participants positively.
Therefore, based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made as suggestions for improvement:
- Government’s poverty reduction programmes must be designed in such a way as to reduce the poverty of the poor participants, which they are meant for.
- There must be defined policy framework with proper guidelines for poverty reduction.
- That the issue of continuity and consistency must be put in place for effective poverty reduction programme implementations.
- The programmes must be devoid of corruption, political deception, out right kleptomania (forceful stealing) and distasteful looting.
- Political stability should be enshrined in our system of government in order to ensure effective government poverty programme implementations.
- Both men, women and youths should be encouraged and sensitized on the need for poverty reduction programmes and empowerments in order to reduce the rate
1.1 Background to the Study
Prior to the commercial mining of fossil oil in Nigeria, the economy depended mainly on agricultural products for its domestic food supply and foreign exchange earnings. This situation however, changed as the advent of oil boom led to the neglect of the agricultural sector. In addition, the nation’s economic policies during the oil boom period paid little or no attention to the non-oil export sector. The result of this neglect was that Nigeria turned from being a major agricultural exporter and largely self-sufficient in food in the 1960s to a net food importer in the 1970s (Atoloye, 1997). The World Bank Report on Poverty and Welfare in Nigeria (World Bank, n.d.) which described the undesirable effects of developing one sector on the activities in other sector(s) of the economy provided a good illustration of the crisis in Nigeria.
The report revealed that though Nigeria has abundant land, oil and natural resources, many of her citizens are still very poor (World Bank, n.d.). The Bank observed that the country’s earnings of about U.S. $200 billion between 1970 and 1990 from oil had impacted little on the welfare of the people, especially the poor, as the oil revenue had not been wisely invested in productive ventures to provide a sustainable stream of benefits to the poor.
The economic depression in the economy became glaring as the growth rates in the nation’s gross domestic product (G.D.P.) which averaged 10 percent between 1970 and 1973; and 8% between 1974 and 1980 did not only decline but became negative from 1980 with an average of -6% between 1980 and 1984 (Osagie, 1992). According to Central Bank of Nigeria and World Bank (1999), as from the late 1970s, the nation has had to contend with deteriorating terms of trade, excessive importation and debt over-hang, amidst adverse economic environment caused by oil shocks and world economic depression.
The Nigerian government in a bid to curb the depression adopted the Structural Adjustment Programme (S.A.P) in 1986. The cardinal objectives of S.A.P included: diversification of the productive base of the economy so as to curtail dependence on the oil sector and imports to achieve a fiscal and balance of payments viability over the medium term; laying a solid foundation for non-inflationary growth and lessening the importance of non-productive investments in the public sector efficiency; intensifying the growth potential of the private sector and attracting fresh foreign loans (Egwim, 1989).
During the implementation of the Structural Adjustment Programme, it was realised that unintended negative effects of the programme such as accentuation of income inequality, unequal access to food, shelter, education, health and other necessities of life became more prominent in the Nigerian state with the poor being the most affected group (National Planning Commission,1995). As pointed out by Demery and Addison (1988), adjustment policies could affect the poor adversely in two ways: First, in the short-run, adjustment policies may reduce the real income and consumption of poor groups. They cited a World Bank study as having compared such initial adverse effects to a ‘crossing of the desert’ in which those who were least able to cope with the crossing require some temporary relief to tide them over. Secondly, in the long run, some poor groups may not benefit from the processes put in place by the adjustment effort. To Demery and Addison (1988), adjustment policies shape development and influence the distribution of income for years into the future and will have different effects on the poor. This view has been buttressed by Atoloye’s (1997), who argued that marginalisation of the middle class in Nigeria’s economic growth process especially since the introduction of S.A.P. had disrupted the traditional economic link between the middle class and the low-income group (those mostly affected by poverty) by which the former complemented the latter. Hence, the problem associated with the Structural Adjustment Programme has gone beyond ‘crossing of the desert’ as the marginalization of the middle class, has, in addition to disruption of the economic link between this class and the low income group (the poor) led to the emergence of the new poor.
It is the realization of the adverse effects of S.A.P. on the poor that prompted the introduction of policies and programmes to alleviate poverty and provide safety-nets for the poor in the economy (National Planning Commission, 1995). These programmes include: the National Directorate of Employment (NDE); the People’s Bank; the Community Bank Scheme; the Better Life Programme (BLP)/Family Support Programme (FSP); Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP); the Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI); the Primary Health Care (PHC); the Federal Urban Mass Transit Scheme; the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (N.A.L.D.A); the Poverty Alleviation Programme (P.A.P) and now, the National Poverty Eradication Programme (N.AP.E.P).
According to Odejide (1997); Anyanwu (1997); Aku, Ibrahim and Bulus (1997), the following can be categorized as poor: (1) illiterates, (2) wage earners, (3) households headed by older people and women whose nutritional needs are not being met adequately, (4) residents of isolated rural areas that lack essential infrastructure and
(5) those who fall below the poverty line and whose incomes cannot afford their basic needs. Others are urban squatters and ‘street’ children, ethnic minorities and all those who are not only marginalized and deprived but also suffer economic, political, social and cultural persecution; those who have lost their jobs and youths who have not been able to find employment as a result of economic reforms under the SAP.
From the foregoing, the World Bank’s ‘crossing of the desert’ has not only become an illusion but got more Nigerians ‘trapped in the desert’ as poverty has turned to be a widespread phenomenon in the country. It is an irony to witness worsening poverty level amidst efforts to alleviate it. Thus, the reality of persistent poverty in Nigeria along side various poverty alleviation programmes has compelled one to re-think the dynamics of the role of government in intervening to minimize social and economic inequalities, especially for rural people who are predominantly poor and in places where the poor people are located. It is in the light of this that a research into the appraisal of poverty alleviation programmes in the study area is considered worth while most especially that majority of the people in the study area are not only farmers but also rural dwellers.
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
Poverty alleviation programmes in an economy are aimed at improving the welfare of those who are categorized as poor. The poverty alleviation programmes considered in this study have been in place for about nineteen (19) years. However, available statistics do not appear to be suggesting any remarkable improvement in the poverty situation in Nigeria. Nigeria has consistently been classified among the poorest countries in the world. According to 2005 World Bank report, Nigeria has been rated as the second poorest country in the world, only better than Ethiopia which was reported as the poorest in the world. In fact, World Bank’s, United Nations Development Programme’s, International Monetary Fund’s and Federal Office of Statistic’s figures show an increase in overall poverty level. This research is therefore designed to examine this phenomenon of a myriad of poverty alleviation programmes without commensurate results. Specifically, the study is aimed at providing answers to the following questions.
- What is the extent of coverage of selected poverty alleviation programmes in the study area?
- How do benefiting communities/individuals perceive these programmes?
- Have poverty alleviation programmes reduced poverty incidence among beneficiaries in the study area?
- Have these programmes brought about a reduction in poverty levels in the study area?
- How sustainable are these poverty alleviation programmes?
1.3 Research Objectives
- Identify Nigeria’s poverty alleviation programmes in Niger state with the aim of finding out the ones that have been most beneficial to the poor in the study area.
- Find out if the target population of such programmes in policy-making are actually reached in implementation.
- Examine the performance of such programmes in alleviating poverty in the study area.
- Find out if, in fact, poverty alleviation programmes have significantly led to poverty reduction in the research area or not.
1.4 Research Questions
- How does NAPEP plan to reduce poverty of the people of Suleja LGA in Niger statei.e., what specific methods are employed by NAPEP to reduce poverty in Suleja?
- How has NAPEP’s activities impacted on poverty reduction in Suleja LGA?
- What are the root causes of poverty in Suleja LGA in Niger State?
- What specific changes in approach (if any) are needed to alleviate poverty in Suleja, bearing in mind the peculiar needs of this locality?
1.5 Significance of the Study
It is the intention of this study to unveil problem areas in the implementation of poverty alleviation programmes as well as to proffer policy recommendations that would benefit both the governments and relevant poverty alleviation agencies in their quest for poverty alleviation and/or eradication in the state and Nigeria in general. Examination of strategies used in implementing poverty alleviation programmes in Nigeria which have had little or no impact on the poverty situation in the country are expected be of significance to those that are saddled with the planning and implementation of ongoing and future poverty alleviation programmes. It is hoped that this study has provided answers to questions asked on the fate of the poor in the study area amidst government poverty alleviation programmes. It is the intention of the study to stimulate further investigations into the problem of persistent rise in poverty incidence in Nigeria with a view of eradicating poverty in the country.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is on the impact of National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and the effectiveness of Federal Government policies on poverty reduction/eradication. It also provides information on the activities of NAPEP, the success and failure, challenges and prospects of NAPEP. In order to be focus properly on this programme, the study focuses on the programmes in Suleja, Niger state.
1.7 Hypothesis of the Study
The hypothesis that was tested in this research is as follows:
- H0: National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) has not impacted significantly on poverty eradication in Suleja LGA.
- H1: National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) has impacted significantly on poverty eradication in Suleja LGA.
1.6 Organization of the Study
The work has been divided into five chapters. Chapter one which is an introductory chapter also considers the methodology of the study, while chapter two reviews related literature. In chapter three, the method of data collection and analysis is discussed. Chapter four which presents and analyses the secondary and primary data also discusses research findings. Chapter five which is a concluding one focuses on the summary of findings, conclusions and recommendations.
Discussion and Conclusion
The main objective of this research is to investigate and analyse with the aid of primary and secondary data the extent to which poverty alleviation programmes (specifically, National Directorate of Employment, Peoples Bank and Primary Health Care) have affected the level of poverty in Suleja. Findings obtained from the analysis have been discussed in chapters three (3) and four (4).
The relationship between poverty alleviation programmes and poverty reduction has been very weak. This can be attributed to the shortsightedness and half- hearted approach by those entrusted with the responsibility of tackling this hydra-headed problem (Silas-Manner, 2003:3). This non-challant attitude explains why despite the fact that not less than ten (10) poverty alleviation programmes were established in Nigeria between 1986 and 2003, the nation’s poverty level has continued to rise as indicated in table 1.
It is important to note that these poverty alleviation programmes have gulped billions of naira with little or nothing to show for it. In the analysis, income has been considered as the major determinant of poverty. This implies that the large sums of money spent on poverty alleviation programmes should have been translated into enhanced income and a consequent reduction in poverty incidence. Unfortunately, the reverse has been the case as over 50% of the nation’s population are currently poor and most disturbingly, apart from National Directorate of Employment’s beneficiaries in suleja, more than 50% of the beneficiaries of National Directorate of Employment and People’s Bank in all the local government areas sampled lived below the poverty line as at 2003. Even where observed improvements have occurred in the incidence of absolute poverty, such changes were found to be statistically insignificant. That is, compared to what the government had allocated in terms of financial and material resources, the improvements are nowhere near what could be termed a commensurate outcome.
The statistical test enabled the research to capture explicitly the level of effectiveness of the programmes considered. In addition to the fact that the research has revealed that these programmes have not been very effective, it has also established that contrary to government claim, substantial proportion of beneficiaries of National Directorate of Employment and People’s Bank have abandoned the projects they were identified with as beneficiaries.
The study is made up of five chapters. Chapter one described in detail the methodology of the study which is mainly descriptive, but supported by the Foster, Geer and Thorbecke (FGT) index as well as the ‘z’ test distribution at 5 percent level of significance. The descriptive method enabled us to incorporate opinions that could not be captured by the research instrument while the FGT index was used in tracing the poverty incidence among beneficiaries of National Directorate of Employment and People’s Bank. The ‘z’ test distribution has been used to determine the statistical significance of the impact of interventions through the National Directorate of Employment programmes and People’s Bank loans in the six local government areas sampled.
Chapter two which reviewed related literature focused on: concepts and measurements of poverty, poverty theories, causes of poverty and the effects of poverty. Specifically, the chapter highlighted that:
- There exists absolute, relative and subjective dimensions of poverty which are measured differently;
- Poverty is highly associated with the interdependency relationship which exists in the international economic system as developed countries gain an economic advantage over developing countries;
- Increasing poverty incidence in developing countries can be attributed to inequality where a small population of their economies appropriate wealth to themselves at the expense of the economic well-being of the majority. Attempts to reduce income inequality through fiscal policy and other measures have not yielded positive results in many developing countries including Nigeria;
- Adverse impact of certain economic policies, such as structural adjustment programmes and economic management policies have also accentuated poverty;
- Civil wars, armed conflicts and social unrests have contributed in deepening poverty in many developing countries;
- Inadequate or even absence of basic social services, like good education, good health care and infrastructural facilities such as electricity, good roads as well as potable water inhibit productivity and has tended to make poverty a vicious circle. In effect, productivity margin remains low due to subsistence production which is characterized by poor processing and poor storage facilities as well as low education;
- Poverty leads to little or no confidence in constituted authorities which could render government policies ineffective as the poor feel un-catered to. In essence, public demoralization leads to poor tax compliance and sporadic violence, which have tended to weaken governments in developing countries;
- Malnourishment is common among the poor with children as the most vulnerable group in addition to their being ‘abused’, performing poorly academically and dropping out of school despite the fact that their parents are often ‘tied’ to the rich land owners in client- patron relationships; and
- High rates of mortality and morbidity are closely associated with poverty due to inaccessibility to quality health facilities.
In chapter three, a descriptive examination of the performance of government poverty alleviation programmes has been presented. The poverty alleviation programmes considered in this chapter are: Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure; National Agricultural Land Development Authority; Strategic Grains Reserve; National Directorate of Employment; Better Life programme/Family Support programme; Family Economic Advancement Programme; Primary Health Care; Guinea Worm Eradication; People’s Bank of Nigeria; Community Bank; National Economic Reconstruction Fund; Nomadic Education; Universal Basic Education; National Urban Mass Transit; National Policy on Housing; Petroleum Trust Fund; Poverty.
Alleviation Programme and National Poverty Eradication Programme. The analysis of these programmes revealed that:
- Though they were well intended, they failed to adequately target the poor people due to location, processes and/or mismanagement. Corruption has also been blamed widely in the literature as partly responsible for the derailment of several interventions;
- Many of the programmes were inadequately followed-up, inadequately funded and poorly staffed;
- None of them had an in-built mechanism for sustenance; and
- In the case of National Directorate of Employment, People’s Bank of Nigeria, Poverty Alleviation Programme and National Poverty Eradication Programme in which stipends were paid, intended beneficiaries were denied access to such funds while privileged members of the society and their families became major beneficiaries.
Chapter four presented and analyzed secondary and primary data gathered for the study. A descriptive approach using percentages and graphs supported by Foster, Geer and Thorbecke (FGT) poverty index as well as the ‘Z’ text distribution were used in analyzing the data. An examination of the secondary data revealed that despite the existence of poverty alleviation programmes, poverty incidence continued to rise between 1986 and 1998 though it began to decline as from 1999. This supports the null hypothesis that poverty alleviation programmes have not significantly alleviated poverty in Nigeria. Analysis using the FGT poverty index indicated that except for National Directorate of Employment’s beneficiaries in suleja local government area, the poverty incidence among beneficiaries of NDE and People’s Bank as at 2003 ranged between 54.87% and 79.03% which, going by hypothesis 1, depicts failure of the two programmes to significantly alleviate poverty. The analysis also revealed narrow coverage by National Directorate of Employment and People’s Bank with urban areas benefiting more than rural dwellers which corroborate our descriptive analysis in chapter three. In the six local government areas sampled, the programmes have not been very effective due largely to non-existence of feed back mechanism from beneficiaries as they were rarely (if at all) monitored and encouraged.
Generally, apart from high patronage of unsatisfactory services/facilities offered by Primary Health Care centres, the programmes studied have not been able to meet the aspirations of the poor. This is because they were not only insufficient but have not been properly managed.
- Poverty incidence in Nigeria should have been declining due to implementation of a number of poverty alleviation programmes between 1986 and 2003. In essence, the number of those categorized as poor should have been falling. This study did not find evidence of this in the analysis of sample data. The nation’s poverty incidence and indeed poverty incidence in the state under study maintained a general upward trend between 1986 and 1998 while the number of poverty alleviation programmes during the same period continued to increase. Though our secondary data has indicated that the nation’s poverty incidence began to decline as from 1999, the situation has remained worse than what was obtained prior to 1986.
- One observable shortcoming of poverty alleviation programmes in Nigeria is that their approach is top – bottom. Policy decisions on these programmes were taken without due consideration of would be beneficiaries’ yearnings and aspirations. Beneficiaries were simply informed of the activities they were to be engaged in, which presupposes that by so doing, they would get out of poverty. This has explained why according to Ali-Akpajiak and Pyke (2003), states and local government areas have been reduced to mere implementing authorities. Many beneficiaries embraced such programmes as a last resort which explains why they abandoned acquired skills for other occupations. The bottom line is that the nation’s poverty alleviation programmes have not been synchronized with the needs and aspirations of benefiting individuals and communities.
- The persistent rise in poverty incidence in Nigeria since 1980s has indicated that poverty alleviation programmes have not been very effective. This is due to the fact that in addition to inadequate financial, material and human resources, public officers vested with implementing these programmes have performed below expectation as corruption and outright manipulations characterized most of the programmes. The immediate consequence has been the failure of such programmes to significantly affect the poverty situation in the country. d. In financing public projects in an economy like Nigeria where fiscal indiscipline is high, a lot of public funds are expended with little to show. The existence of numerous poverty alleviation programmes during the period of study implied huge government expenditure with highly insignificant outcomes. The expenditures on these programmes have instead furthered the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor in the society due to their misapplication.
- The nation’s poverty alleviation programmes which according to Ali-Akpajiak and Pyke (2003), Obaseki and Onwioduoki (1997) were meant to impact positively on the poor did not achieve the desired goals due to faulty implementation and absence of a permanent and comprehensive policy framework as well as undue political interference. The result is that these programmes have been bedeviled by inadequate monitoring and evaluation. Even in situations where stipends and credit facilities were given to beneficiaries, it has been difficult to ‘track’ them as up-to-date records on such beneficiaries are scarcely available. Thus, the failure to effectively implement poverty alleviation programmes has not only made it difficult for them to be sustainable but has been largely responsible for the perpetuation of poverty in Nigeria.
- Majority of Nigerians are left in a circle of poverty due to mismanagement, corruption and bad governance argued Kwanashie (1998). This view has re-enforced the position of the power theory discussed as part of the literature review which emphasized that those in power amass wealth to the detriment of the masses who are the majority. As a result of this, poverty in Nigeria has remained a stable characteristic of the nation’s socio-political structure.
- Finally, poverty alleviation has remained a myth more or less due to faulty formulation, implementation and their non- participatory nature. It is tragic that the civil society which normally projects the interest and aspirations of the more vulnerable group-women and children – did not play an active role in the processes of the programmes.
- Identifying the poor. In the first instance, there is the need for policy makers and managers of poverty alleviation programmes to identify the poor at community levels so as to direct poverty programmes and projects towards them. It is not enough to simply find out the proportion of those poor in a particular society. Identifying them and their peculiarities is imperative. Such identification could be done by, after setting required benchmark, allowing community leaders to compile and submit to relevant organs the list of those categorized as poor alongside their needs. This is because an understanding of the diverse nature of the poor and their peculiarities will provide a focus for designing appropriate programmes that will not only help them to tackle their problems but also enable them take advantage of available opportunities in their environment. In addition, the identification will, according to Echebiri (1997) aid in overall economic development planning as geographical, cultural and social differences are considered thus enabling appropriate pathway through which each community can alter economic growth and development. It is only when this is done that we can recognize the communities that need urgent attention.
- Participation by beneficiaries. For any poverty alleviation programme to be successful and effective, poor people themselves should have a say in the formulation and implementation of the programme. This could be achieved through the involvement of civil society and/or Community Based Organisations. It creates a sense of ownership and makes accountability possible and effective. It is necessary to involve the poor in all stages of programme cycle (from conception to inception, implementation, monitoring and evaluation). It is through full participation of the poor from the stage of decision making that their views and opinions could be taken, harmonized and incorporated with the aim of ensuring that only programmes and projects which meet their yearnings and aspirations are put in place. This approach has the potential of mobilizing individuals in the various communities to provide adequate support to priority development programmes and projects that affect their welfare. As observed by Kanbur and Squire (2001), the poor know their situations and needs better and can best contribute to the design of policies and projects intended to improve their living standard. Once they are involved, they become more committed to the implementation of the projects. Kanbur and Squire (2001) used Indonesia to illustrate that such participatory approach improved project performance between 1979 and 1990. During this period, Indonesian government allowed the key criterion for water supply and sanitation to be controlled by benefiting communities. This did not only result to a drop of cash contribution from the government and an aid organization (CARE) from about 80% to about 30% of project costs, but also enabled successful operation and maintenance of the projects. In a nutshell, the current top-bottom approach should be reversed to bottom-top approach so that the poor will be able to initiate, design, execute and manage their priorities and consequently come out of poverty.
- Development of human capital. Efforts should be intensified by the various tiers of government to design relevant policy measures aimed at human capital development through skill acquisition. Once this is done in consonance with individual and societal needs, people including the poor will take advantage of and control of their environment (Obaseki and Onwioduokit, 1997). The result is that individuals will improve themselves as their production and productivity could be raised especially if they are appropriately ‘remunerated’. If these happen, it will be possible for the poor to ‘grow’ out of poverty. Specifically, this will require in the words of Ogwumike (1998) the strengthening of management capabilities of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Community Development Associations (CDAs) through workshops and seminars so that they can perform their expected roles in all poverty programmes effectively. According to Aigbokhan (1997), Achime and Afemikhe (1997), any policy based on capacity building through human capital development for full utilization of labour resource is capable of accelerating economic growth, alleviating poverty and protecting the Nigerian economy from further distortions
- Provision of functional amenities. In order to raise productivity among the poor so as to alleviate poverty, the government in partnership with the private sector and host communities should endeavour to provide functional qualitative amenities which are considered as complementary factors of production. Such amenities include improved good health care system, motorable roads, potable water and electricity. This will go a long way to increase productivity and consequently alleviate poverty. Here, priority should be given to implementation of a health care policy for the poor who most of the time, are unable to pay for ‘specialized’ medical services. This is because according to Central Bank of Nigeria and World Bank (1999), investment in preventive and primary health care is capable of raising life span as well as increasing the productivity of the workforce.
- Reinvigorating NACRDB. To empower the poor economically, the Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank (N.A.C.R.D.B.) must be re-invigorated if it has to meet the needs of the poor in the provision of accessible credit facilities to them. Also, an enabling environment should be created by way of tax exemptions so that wealthy Nigerians can provide credit facilities to the poor. Such exemptions should be restricted to the amount of money set aside for granting credit to the poor. Provision of credit facilities to the poor, will, all things being equal, promote their economic activities, engender employment of resources and raise their level of income if properly controlled and monitored.
- Instituting good governance. There is the need to entrench good governance in every sphere of government activity which according to Odusola (1997) is a sine-qua-non for poverty alleviation in every sphere of the Nigerian society. Good governance entails basically, accountability, transparency, fiscal responsibility and respect for the rule of law, where public participation increases with emphasis on stakeholders’ ownership of programmes and projects as well as equity by involving the poor and other vulnerable groups in planning and implementation of programmes and projects (Obadan, 1997). Here, emphasis should be on programme evaluation, whereby, the effectiveness of programmes and projects are evaluated monthly during the first one year of implementation and quarterly thereafter. Such evaluation should be done with the aid of performance audit and monitoring to find out whether or not programmes and projects are achieving stated objectives.
- Overhauling of poverty alleviation programmes. Overhauling of existing poverty alleviation programmes in line with the principles of National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (N.E.E.D.S.), State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (S.E.E.D.S.) and Local Government Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (L.E.E.D.S.) has become necessary. This implies that the three tiers of government in Nigeria should cooperate and work together in the true spirit of cooperative federalism. Thus, in addition to ‘full’ local participation, partnership between civil society organizations and the governments should be strengthened so as to ensure effective popular participation in the development process. Poverty has pervaded the Nigerian economy so much that government cannot tackle it alone. In order to alleviate and possibly eradicate poverty in the country, the three tiers of government must work in partnership with the civil society if policy makers are to properly understand the concerns and priorities of the poor (Museveni 2003; Ali- Akpajiak and Pyke 2003). This participation of ‘all’ (including the poor) according to Ogwumike (2001) and Obadan (2001) will improve access of households to labour markets, create new employment for household members and thus augment households’ income. As a consequence, the perception that such programmes serve as conduit pipes for national cake sharing will be discarded while public commitment to the programmes will increase the scope thereby taking care of the present problem of narrow coverage.
- Pilot projects. The failure of poverty alleviation programmes in the country has made it inevitable to embark on pilot projects before implementing any programme or project on a large scale. Such pilot projects should be community based and involve the development of agro-allied industries and other income generating activities. They should be best sited in poor communities and closely monitored to avoid the usual practice of enunciating ‘blanket’ policies that hardly benefit the poor (Central Bank of Nigeria, 1998; Central Bank of Nigeria and World Bank 1999).
- International community efforts. As the world has become a ‘global village’, whatever affects one part of the ‘village’ affects the entire ‘village’. There is thus the need for the international community to improve upon their efforts towards poverty alleviation in Nigeria. This is because according to Ogwumike (2001), the complementary efforts of United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.), Department for International Development (D.F.I.D.), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (U.N.I.C.E.F.), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (U.N.I.D.O.) and United States Agency for International Development (U.S.A.I.D.) aimed at employment generation, provision of credit facilities, skill acquisition, enhancing income earning opportunities of the vulnerable groups are germane to poverty alleviation and should therefore be properly focused on the poor. The international community according to UNIDO (2001) and DFID (1997) needs to coordinate efforts to support developing countries’ initiatives towards poverty alleviation.
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