Five thousand naira (N5000) monthly poverty reduction grant to poorest Nigerians, hinted by Yemi Osinbajo to begin soon as a campaign promise made good by Muhammadu Buhari is a welcome development. That is, if the scheme will be implemented in such a way that takes a marked departure from the failed PDP’s poverty alleviation or eradication schemes of the past regimes.
Though in the face of the present poor economic reality occasioned partly by the dwindling national oil income and heavily by the debilitating level of corrupt practices in governance, all which have given rise to the growing level of poverty and hardship ravaging the poor people in the land, such amount of money would be too low to make a difference in their lives.
But in a local parlance, it is said
“at-all-at-all na ‘im bad”. Give the sum of money to someone living below poverty line, who’s hopeless and expects to get nothing at the end of each month; and let electricity flow in her bungalow for a back-up, you’ve set her up for a journey out of poverty.
Average Nigerians that I know are not poor by nature. They will certainly know what good to do to the N5000. Though the poorest ones as categorised here may be suffering generational poverty – i am going to expatiate on this later – their poverty level is , however, heightened largely by their own country’ s successive governments that have refused to develop conscious policy that would reduce such level of poverty; or their refusal to or lack of political will to tackle corruption which is empirically agreed to be the highest creator of the condition ravaging the majority of Nigerians, 80 per cent of whom is based in the non-developed rural areas.
I delivered a paper in Makurdi not quite long ago in which I attempted to establish a nexus between corruption in high places and poverty in Nigeria and I cited the alleged missing $20billion Nigeria petro-money, all which revolves around Diezani Allison-Madueke, the ex-petroleum woman minister who had become Goodluck Jonathan-non-touchable.
I said, now, supposing the amount is truly stolen by only one Nigerian in a population of 170 million, as far as the controversial 2006 census is concerned, would we fail to see how many people’s shares combinedly one person has stolen and may have deprived them from their three square meals a day in a situation where such amount is to be shared equally among the entire population, as each person’s per capital income?
Yet, that was such a woman who enjoyed presidential habour all through the tenure of the immediate past president.
There are many more examples like that, that can be cited. They all are corruption that has contributed to why poverty in the land has been growing despite the country’s accruals from our oil.
So, for any poverty reduction palliative like the one being discussed to succeed, Buhari must wield a very big axe or sledge hammer against the monster called corruption. No compromise on this.