POLITICS OF POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN NIGERIA (A STUDY OF IKENNE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF OGUN STATE)
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Local Government is seen as political subdivision of a nation, which is constituted by law and has substantial control of local affairs. It is regarded as the third tier of government in Nigeria, created for the purpose of grass-root development (UNO, 1961 in Ogbeni, 2007). In Nigeria the system of local government has over the year’s undergone series of changes, beginning from when the British colonial administration introduced the native authority system. In 1921 the basic structure of this native authority system features prominently throughout the country and continued until 1950s, the period Nigerians began to participate actively in legislative functions (Hassan, 2002).
The poverty situation in Nigeria is galloping. Despite several attempts by successive governments to ameliorate the scourge, Eze (2009:447) explains that the level of poverty is geometrically increasing (Okpe and Abu, 2009:205). Poverty is deep and pervasive, with about 70 percent of the population living in absolute poverty (Okonjo-Iweala, Soludo and Muhtar, 2003:1; the Punch Newspaper, 2009:14). The ballooning poverty situation notwithstanding, Nigeria is blessed with abundant resources. Chukwuemeka (2009:405) observes that the country is blessed with natural and human resources, but in the first four decades of its independence, the potentials remained largely untapped and even mismanaged (Omotola, 2008:497). Putting the problem in proper perspective, Nwaobi (2003:5) asserts that Nigeria presents a paradox. The country is rich but the people are poor. Given this condition, Nigeria should rank among the richest countries that should not suffer poverty entrapment. However, the monumental increase in the level of poverty has made the socio-economic landscape frail and fragile. Today, Nigeria is ranked among the poorest countries in the world.
The fight against poverty has been a central plank of development planning since independence in 1960 and about fifteen ministries, fourteen specialized agencies, and nineteen donor agencies and non-governmental organizations have been involved in the decades of this crusade but about 70 percent of Nigerians still live in poverty (Soludo, 2003: 27). Observers have unanimously agreed that successive government’s interventions have failed to achieve the objectives for which they were established (Ovwasa, 2000:73; Adesopo, 2008; 219-222; Omotola, 2008:505-512). The failure to effectively combat the problem has largely been blamed on infrastructural decay, endemic corruption, and poor governance and accountability (see Okonjo-Iweala, Soludo and Muhtar, 2003:1).
It is pertinent to note that previous governments in Nigeria have established different policy programmes that are meant to reduce poverty and the suffering of the toiling masses in the country. Despite the heavy investment made by these governments the extent and level of poverty in the country is enormous. Indeed, one of the contributing factors that exacerbate poverty in Africa as in Nigeria is leadership and rapacious greed of the ruling elite.
In 2001 the Obasanjo government has adopted the international goal of reducing poverty by half the proportion of the population by the year 2015, in line with the global goals set by the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000. While it is estimated that growth would have to average 7-8 percent per annum to achieve that goal (assuming no change in income inequality) the government recognizes that growth must be accompanied by policies that improve opportunities for employment, income generation and access to resource among the poorest groups in society. Such policies need to be accompanied by investment in human capital to produce a healthier and better educated population, and well-targeted “safety net” measures that can assist households unable to meet their basic needs.
Following a review of government agencies involved in poverty alleviation efforts by the Ahmad Joda led panel, the Federal Government launched a National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) in January 2001. This set the goal of eradicating absolute poverty over a ten-year period. NAPEP is a coordinating body liaising among 14 ministries and nine agencies with core poverty alleviation functions and is responsible to the National Poverty Eradication Council (NPEC), chaired by the president. It developed four specific schemes focusing on youth empowerment, development of rural infrastructure, social welfare services and natural resource development and conservation (Obadan, 2002). Therefore, this study is to investigates politics of poverty alleviation programme in Nigeria focusing in Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Despite the various poverty eradication programmes introduced in Nigeria such as the Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), the Green Revolution, the Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructures (DFRRI), Better Life for Rural Women, Family Support Programme and recently the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP), the incidence of poverty among citizens has remain increasing (NTI, 2007).
As part of her effort in complementing the federal government policy of poverty eradication programme (NAPEP), Lagos state government introduced its own poverty eradication policy (LSAEP) which identified rural farmers as target since the highest total population lives in rural areas and mostly farmers (Eze, 2009). The policy involves offering of soft loans to small scale and large scale farmers and distribution of highly subsidized fertilizers for farmers. But the politicians meddle with the programme and diverted the benefits from actual target beneficiaries. This means the implementation was faulty.
One of the major weaknesses is in the handling of policies, which are usually adhoc, short-term and poorly executed. More significantly, is the politicization of policies. This ensures that in putting together the formulators, merit, experience or competence are of secondary consideration.
The above identified problems of increasing poverty in Lagos and Nigeria in general, poor implementation of LSAEP policy and lack of genuine identification of target beneficiaries are the problems that this research will attempt to examine and proffer feasible solutions.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study is to investigate politics of poverty alleviation programme in Nigeria. Specifically, the study seeks to investigate the following:
i) To explore the policies set up by government to eradicate poverty in Nigeria.
ii) To identify why and how politics affects efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of poverty eradication policies and programmes in Nigeria.
iii) To find out whether lack of continuity and sustainability contributed towards the failure of alleviation of poverty in Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State in particular and Nigeria in general.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1) What are the policies set up by government to eradicate poverty in Nigeria?
2. Does politics affects efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of poverty eradication policies and programmes in Nigeria?
3. Does lack of continuity and sustainability contributed towards the failure of alleviation of poverty in Ikenne Local Government Area?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
1. H0: There is no significant difference between policies set up by government and poverty alleviation programme in Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant difference between policies set up by government and poverty alleviation programme in Nigeria.
2. H0: The lack of continuity and sustainability does not contributed towards the failure of alleviation of poverty in Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State.
H1: The lack of continuity and sustainability do contributed towards the failure of alleviation of poverty in Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is imperative to examine the level of poverty in Ikenne Local government area (i.e. lack of education, lack of food, cloths, lack of good healthcare, good road network etc) as a consideration for raising the standard of living on the populace especially the youth. This will help to attain a sustainable socio-economic development. Unless Nigerians began to adequately tap their human resources, many of them may remain in poverty for long. (Adeoye, 2005). Simply because Nigeria as a country is richly endowed in both material and human resources, in spite of this, majority of the people still suffer under abject poverty. Also despite various programmes undertaken by successive governments to alleviate poverty, poverty tends to deepen and expand over the years.
As the government strives once again to make a fresh start at turning the table of pervasive poverty and enhancing the well being of the poor populace, especially the youth, hence this research has been largely rationalized by the motivation or desire to fill in the gap in knowledge.
Since the socio-economic development of any nation is measured by the general welfare, the standard of living of the citizen as well as the youth empowerment, thus, the prospect of poverty alleviation initiatives is no doubt bright and would be successful as long as the leadership is willing to change from traditional approach, which so far favoured implementation of lofty programmes.
Finally, this study serve as literature (reference source) to government, poverty eradication programmes, students, individuals or beneficiaries and corporate bodies who what to carry out on further research on poverty alleviation proprammes in Nigeria.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study concerns about politics of poverty alleviation programme in Nigeria and ways to eradicate this poverty in Ikenne local government area within a stipulated time and Nigeria at large.