FG’s Social Intervention Programme – So Far So Good, By Chukwudi Enekwechi
At the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on May 29, 2015, the good intentions and plans of the administration for Nigeria’s most vulnerable was clear and ambiguous.
First of all, it must be acknowledged that President Muhammadu Buhari was elected based on the good will of Nigerian masses, most of whom have become disenchanted with several years of a few elite pillaging the country’s resources.
Realising the need to use the levers of federal power to redistribute the country’s resources in a way that the poorest of the poor among us will equally benefit, President Buhari introduced the Social Investment Programme. The objective is to ensure that the most vulnerable in our midst, no matter where they reside begin to feel the impact of government.
To effectively implement the social investment programme, the Buhari administration spread it into different segments and stages, hence we have the N-Power where 500,000 graduates and 100,000 trainees will benefit.
There is also the School Feeding Programme for primary school children. They will be fed from foods locally sourced within the country .This has already taken off in some states of the federation.
The Conditional Cash Transfer is a novel idea of paying five thousand naira stipend to the poorest in our midst to support their livelihood. This has also commenced in several states of the country, where as in some advanced countries and other European countries such programmes are meant to cater for the needs of people who are considered poor and those without jobs in Nigeria.
It is targeted at those below manageable poverty level. This type of social security or what many will describe as social safety net is being introduced for the first time in Nigeria’s history and about one million Nigerians will benefit. Of course it is easy to argue that under previous administrations, we had NAPEP, SURE-P, and other programmes, the difference is that the social investment programme is designed make impact directly on the most vulnerable.
There is no doubt that such programmes under previous administrations never achieved the desired objectives, rather they became platforms for political patronage. The mishandling of the previous programmes created more hardship for the people as corrupt government officials used them to enrich themselves and cronies.
Today, the positive impact of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Social Investment Programme is reverberating across the country. Additionally, the programme has been designed to be sustainable as beneficiaries are oriented to start small business with their savings.
Similarly, the federal government has carefully ensured that most beneficiaries are provided the opportunity to acquire necessary skills like tailoring, welding, automobile mechanic, drivers, gardeners, traders, plumbers, electricians, among others. The underlining reason is to ensure that consumerism among them is discouraged and they can be useful to themselves and the society.
This approach adopted by the Buhari administration towards removing millions of Nigerians from excruciating poverty is commendable, as it will in the end boost the skilled manpower in Nigeria. A situation where most unemployed youths lack requisite skills for gainful employment is not only harmful to the growth of the economy, but it hampers their ability to fend for themselves in a productive way.
Therefore, as the federal government expands the scope of the Social Investment Programme to reach all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, there is the need for all stakeholders to cooperate towards a successful implementation. As a novel idea in Nigeria, there is no doubt that some teething problems will crop up along the line, but in due course the vision of Mr. President and the expectations of Nigerians will be met.
It is necessary to state that the idea behind paying N5, 000 to poor Nigerians is to increase household consumption, food expenditure and poverty reduction.
By feeding school children, there is the tendency for more children to attend school and boost their completion rates. It is needless to state that hunger is a major contributory factor for most children who are out of school.
The benefits derivable from the Social protection Progamme as rolled out by the Buhari administration are numerous. Some of them include enhancing health and nutrition, savings, investments and production, creation of jobs and empowerment of the most vulnerable, including women.
There is therefore the need for all local governments, states, communities and all stakeholders to be fully involved in ensuring that politics is eschewed and the programme succeeds for the interest of all Nigerians.