Public Policy And Grass Root Development In Nigeria (A Critical Appraisal Of National Poverty Eradication Programme On Asari-Toru LGA Of River State)

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science


In an attempt to develop and improve the standard of living and eradicate poverty in Asari – Torm local government area this study was carried out, it highlighted public policy and grass root development in Nigeria, with a critical appraisal of the National Poverty Eradication Programme. The programme uses personnel, money and material resources to achieve its goals and objectives.

The study is aimed at heightening the significant role of effective and efficient implementation of decided policy like the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) in rural development with particular reference to Asari – Torn Local Government Area of Rivers – State.

The public policy formulation for grass-root development in Nigeria could be regarded as a new direction toward poverty alleviation programme while the lack of proper planning and implementation causes a poor level of efficiency of its outcome; which includes lack of consultation with community people (chiefs, elders) by the NAPEP officials, poor orientation & motivation of people toward NAPEP programme, corruption on the part of the NAPEP officials etc.

To ascertain and examine these problems, data were therefore collected based on both primary and secondary sources and a total of 25 questionnaires were administered recording a 100% return. In the test of hypothesis, chi-square technique was used with 5% level of significance ( = 0.05) and percentage pattern were used in analyzing the data.

After analyzing the data many findings were made, which actually substantiated the fact that poor public policy formulation and implementation remains the most devastating problem militating against the alleviation of poverty and grass-root development through the activities of NAPEP programme.

Finally, the study ends with a conclusion and recommendation aimed at solving the problem of poor public policy formulation and implementation in Nigeria which including creation of awareness, motivation, proper consultant with community leaders, transparency and well-organized NAPEP programme and activities, proper administration, training and development, etc.

Chapter One


1.1 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.

1.2 Statement of Problem

The study is specifically geared towards providing tentative answers to the following questions:

  1. What factor weakens the National Poverty Eradication Programmes and other policies geared towards poverty alleviation and grass-root development.
  2. What are the prospects of the poverty alleviation policies like NAPEP put in place to halve poverty in the grass-roots areas by 2010?
  3. What are the measures put in place to be used in implementing the policy of poverty alleviation in the grass-root areas?
  4. 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.

1.3 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.

1.4 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:-

  1. Operation Service to our people.
  2. Rural Electrification projects.
  3. Primary Health Care Projects.
  4. Portable Drinking Water Projects.
  5. The National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP)
  6. 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.

1.5 Literature Review:

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:

  1. The economy was facing a crisis of dwindling revenue from oil the nation’s major foreign exchange.
  2. There was high rate of unemployment in the country, and corruption was pervasive.
  3. 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.

1.6 Hypotheses:

  1. Lack of consultation with elders, chiefs and community leaders in the local government areas is responsible for the failure of public policies.
  2. 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.
  3. High level of corruption on the part of NAPEP officials and the beneficiaries, seems to hamper the success of poverty alleviation programmes.
  4. 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.

1.7 Methodology:

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.

1.8 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.

1.9 Clarification of Key Concepts:


These are raw informations gathered.


The translation of public policy objectives into action leading to the achievement of set objectives, expressed by policy makers.


National Poverty Eradication Programme, set up in 2001 by the Obasanjo led administration to curb the poverty situation in the country.


National Poverty Eradication Council. It is the apex body for the formulation of policies on poverty in Nigeria.


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.


This is decision making on what should be done and how, when and where? It involves development strategy and procedures.


This can be describe as rural areas or group of persons living in an existing environment.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary:

In summary, there is no doubt that this study has actually presented and analysed public policy and grass-root development in Nigeria, a critical appraisal of the National Poverty Eradication Programme on Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Some of these problems have been fairly tackled by the government in all tiers of government, especially the Asair-Toru local government and its poverty eradication agencies.

From the research work, it has been discovered that, there are forces that if no properly checked and put into right place, could seriously derailed these poverty alleviation programmes.

There are the likes of environmental process, economic forces, political/religious forces and attitude/cultural forces.
The people of Asari-Toru local government area still suffers environmental degradation with high rate gully erosion and hazardous chemicals spilled all over the high seas while all the people’s livelihood depends on fish farming.

Their land and water had been laid waste due to the activities of the oil firm that are operating in the area, doing the business of exploring (oil) and exploiting the area.

With this, no amount of poverty alleviation programme will make a dent in their lives if they are not properly consulted in the formulation and implementation of policy in the respective communities of the local government.
Also, is the issue of non-adherence to the schedule by formulators and implementers, the services of incompetent “hands” as implementers usually run counter formulation of policy due to the fact that, at the formulating stages provisions were not made to forestall these issues.

Asari-Toru local government has over the years been making concerted efforts in planning and implementing policies as to bring rapid, transformation and sustainable development of the various communities in the local government, but never the less, efforts by poverty alleviating agencies and the local government council have not been enough to transform the whole rural communities of the area, mostly because most of them are ignorant of what is going on. It is alarming and astonishing to realized in my process of carrying out my research interviews through questionnaires that most of the people about 68% of the people question did not even known what NAPEP is all about, talk less of their operations in the area, some even termed it as a measures put in place by the government to siphoned public fund at the expenses of the poor masses who are suffering objectively in the local areas.

In trying to get an answer to why the people were not even aware of the existence of NAPEP, using the primary source of data collection through oral interviews, it was founded out that, about 80% of the people interviewed due to government dubious nature in wrecking most policies put in place to alleviate or reduce poverty, the people at the local government areas like that of the Asari-Toru local government were not properly orientated about the meaning and activities of NAPEP, which is meant for them.

Hence there is need for government to effectively consult the people and allow them participate towards the mobilization of resources through concerted efforts so as to create a broader economic base for the local government in the realization of the optimal result of rural development. The need should not be on only government but other policy formulators and grass-root developers too.

Also, the N10 billion poverty alleviation funds which the federal government has put in place to fight poverty in all spheres of life will not yield the desired and needed result, from all indication if the people that are mostly in need of the fund are left out especially the rural dwellers. From my interview with the state coordinator of NAPEP in River –state, he stressed that this is where the idea of targeting comes in;. the level of poverty that the people of grass-root area faced or are in now demands that this poverty alleviation programme be intended to be an emergency programmes to address some of the most urgent social concerns of the grass-root people that are widows, orphans, poor and displaced ones etc, who were affected by economic down- turned occasioned by mismanagement, poor planning, bad economic reforms past and present, high level of corruption on the part of most of the officials, be it NAPEP and other agencies involved in poverty reduction or eradication.

5.2 Conclusion:

Judging from the hypothesis and findings, it is glaring that, the trend in Nigeria policies has been to pull way not to pull together. The point here is whether these policies worked or not. Nigerian know that they all failed badly; that is the policies mostly because the policies were not implemented in good faith by the Nigerian leaders and that the policies were not suitable.

The loots of our past leaders recovered were not channeled to providing a futuristic plan for the poor masses, who have been suffering at the expenses of these loots.

The policy of providing jobs for the unemployed without stimulating production is tantamount to papering the wall cracks. Money will be provided as stipends to the unemployed, what happens when the money from the federal dries up or late in coming like it is usually the case, retrenchment, rejuvenation, repackaging surfaces again and everything will be back to square one.

But, as an observer puts it, “if production is stimulated in a market as huge s ours, job will automatically be created. In fact many of those who are now unemployed are likely to become the job creators and employers”.

Secondly, no doubt, Nigeria is the most attractive country to do business with in Africa. The largest market in Africa, with population of around 120 million people, twenty percent of them with qualitiaive education. But the truth is that at present Nigeria, since the Buhari regime to this day, have become the most dangerous country to business in, due to corrupt practices and political instability. Inflow of foreign investment cannot materialize. As a newspaper puts it “from the far north where forces campaigning for sharia seems to have their northern governor in agreement, the south east where MASSOB holds sway, to the South-West where the Oodua peoples congress had been championing a violent form of ethnic nationalism, right down to the creeks of the Niger-Delta where the youths are in virtual state of rebellion”.

Recent reports have it that, there are signs that foreign companies have completed plans to hemorrhage out of the country. The report said that thousands of employees may loose their jobs in the process. So much for the government that has employment creation as one of the ways of alleviating poverty in Nigeria especially at the grass-root level. This is so much for a government that is globetrotting round the world convincing potential investors to come to “Business Friendly Nigeria” and invest.

This unstable environment is destabilizing the policies of government and undermining the economic advancement of the country which is one of the core aims of NAPEP. Poverty alleviation programme thrives in an atmosphere of economic and political tranquility. It is pointless and meaningless alleviating poverty in one place and at the same time creating another.

Finally, policies are hard to run in Nigeria, due to high level of corruption or corrupt practices like, awarding contact to persons or company that gives the biggest bribe, not on merit and without any due process followed. Bribes are openly and frequently demanded before the awarding of any contract. The chronic efficiency is the norms and the people at the grass-root level are at the receiving end. They suffer for all these atrocities because when person or company gets a contract through bribes, what he does no the project he executes are with substandard materials, if will not abandon the project at all. Just like as many projects are being abandoned in Asari-Toru local government. All these had led to the poor plight of the people in the local government area.

Even though NAPEP, has been making some concerted efforts through its various programmes in the local government area, which are aimed at projecting a sustainable development to the people, thereby transforming the local communities. The effort nevertheless, has not been enough compare to the level of things in the local government area.

5.3 Recommendation:

In considering public policy and grass-root development in Nigeria with a critical appraisal of the National Poverty Eradication Programmes in Asari-Toru local government area, in terms of sincerity and commitment to the programmes objective and strategy, policy constituency, ensuring that corruption and other sharp practices are not condoned at any stage of the programme but severely punished, re-orientating the people to make sure that the programme is devoid of partisan political party consideration and abuse, positive attitudinal change of the operators and beneficiaries of the programme, ensuring adequate consultation with elders, opinion leaders in the communities, chiefs and the involvement of stakeholders, particularly the line ministries, state and local government chief executives in the implementation of the programme at every stage, and the involvement of credible Community Based Organizations (CBOs) etc. The following recommendation are made in line with my findings:-

  1. Adequate consultation with chiefs, community elders and opinion leaders should be carried out before formulating policy in the local government by policy formulators and implementers. Experience from the past poverty alleviation programme has shown the inability to involve the people in their planning and implementation therefore there should be sufficient participation of the people in the identification and implementation of projects affecting their liver. This will not only increase their commitment, but will also de-emphasize the bad feelings towards the programme.
  2. For NAPEP and other public policies to make a meaningful dent on poverty, there is need for poverty reduction programmes to be implemented within the framework of rapid economic growth with equity, controlled population growth, sound economic management and good governance.
    Rapid economic growth is important for poverty reduction. Therefore attention must be focused on those macro and micro economic polices and programmes which is crucial in conquering poverty.
  3. The government should target the delivery of some services and resources to reach to the poor and to communities living in poverty. They should build on community – based organizations, civil society group and their activities where possible. Some element of targeting should also be introduced in public expenditures, especially for social sector spending (health and education) which touches the lives of the poor people in Asari – Toru local government area.
  4. Poverty is too critical an issue that everyone irrespective of party affiliation and learning should be deeply concerned about its eradication in the rural area of Asari – Toru local government especially. The idea of sabotaging a scheme simply because it was initiated by a rival political party/group should not arise. It is only with such a spirit that a scheme could live beyond its initiators. Perhaps, consideration could be given to making poverty alleviation an explicit constitutional matter in view of the fact that no one administration can meaningfully binds its successors to its programmes.
  5. There is need for more public and private initatives to boost youth empowerment and poverty reduction in the local area. This is because government alone cannot win the fight against poverty reduction in the country not only the local or rural areas alone.
  6. Public policy on poverty implementation must be properly monitored coupled with the use of communication tools available. This to my knowledge will ensure free flow of information between the manners and users, this will act as checks against the problems often associated with frequently policy changes and conflict in policy statement.
  7. Finally, the management should ensure that provision for the enlightenment of the masses in the communities is affected without further delay, for the purpose of achieving stated goal. Infact there should be more enlightenment campaign at the local level which should aimed at discouraging the local citizens from some of their socio-cultural beliefs which are not helpful for the promotion of government policies. And that the citizens should live up to their civil responsibilities like the payment of taxes which will ensure the federal government financial capacity in implementating their formulated policies and programme.

If all these recommendation are properly looked into with the right frame of mind and purpose, especially in the local area like that of Asari-Toru local government area in Rivers – State, we are in for a better and economically buoyant Nigeria.

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