The Buhari Media Organization (BMO) said the recent World Bank report on the poverty level in Nigeria between 2011 and 2016 was a glaring reflection of the level the country sank in the not too distant past, under a succession of clueless, unfocussed and uncaring governments.
According to BMO, the report entitled “Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria,” showed how previous Nigeria governments had little or no concrete plan to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said that the Bretton Wood institution was emphatic about the absence of social safety net programmes within the period under review.
The group emphasized that this was the period the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in power at the centre, led the National Assembly, as well as a majority of the States of the Federation.
“The World Bank made it clear in that report that lower fuel prices were about the only poverty alleviating scheme at the time work began on the report.
“According to it, the only benefit that the populace drew from fuel subsidies was lower costs of transportation which the Bank suggested did little to address the issue of poverty without social welfare schemes in place.
“All these were before the Buhari administration’s social welfare initiatives, including the Conditional Cash Transfer, kicked off in 2016.
“Indeed the World Bank said in the report that there is evidence that links cash transfer programs to improved human capital in places anywhere in the world.
“We acknowledge that the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP), as human capital development initiatives, truly began towards the tail end of the period under review and its impact could not have been captured in the report.
“But even before the release of the report in January, President Muhammadu Buhari had spoken of his readiness to lay the framework for 100 million poor people to be lifted out of poverty in the next ten years,” it added.
The group is convinced that the impact of Nigeria’s Social Investment Programmes would be more obvious in the next report which will capture the period between 2017 and 2021.
“The cash transfer programme targeted at the poorest of the poor had barely begun when the World Bank report was being put together in 2016, but data from the National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) today shows that a total of 5,433,394 Nigerians are now beneficiaries of the programme.
“This is the equivalent of the population of some African countries and we see it as a game-changer among a number of pro-poor initiatives of the administration which also include the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme that has now covered 33 states and only recently launched in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)
“Others are TraderMoni, an interest-free micro-credit scheme for artisans and petty traders where beneficiaries have been accessing loans ranging from N10,000 to N100,0000 and N-Power which is designed to give unemployed youths a headstart in life through large scale skill development.
“And lately, the federal government has introduced an open school initiative to mop up a large chunk of millions of out-of-school children, especially in northern Nigeria.
“All these are initiatives that were neither known nor captured when the 2011-2016 was put together but are almost certain to reflect in the next report that could be really used to assess President Buhari’s poverty alleviation initiatives.”
BMO urged northern Nigeria elite to cooperate with the Buhari administration to ensure that poverty levels in that region drop significantly.