Since independence in 1960, Nigeria has been grappling with serious development challenges, particularly in the area of governance. Issues of bad governance as evidenced by poor transparency and accountability with worrisome levels of corruption has been largely responsible for the high level of poverty in the country. Dealing with poverty has remained a tall order for government both at national and sub-national levels. Various efforts made by past and present administrations have not effectively translated into poverty reduction, rather the problem is being daily accentuated.
The Federal Government, working in collaboration with sub-national Governments and the World Bank is currently implementing a Social Investment Programme (SIP) with four cardinal focus areas namely;
The N-power programme is designed to assist young Nigerians between the ages of 18 to 35 to acquire and develop life-long skills for becoming change makers in their communities and players in the domestic and global markets and given a stipend of N30,000 monthly. Page 4 of 10 The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme directly supports those within the lowest poverty bracket by improving nutrition, increasing household consumption and supporting the development of human capital through cash benefits to various categories of the poor and vulnerable. A monthly N5,000 is usually paid bi-monthly to the beneficiaries. Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) is a micro-lending intervention that targets traders, artisans, enterprising youth, farmers and women in particular, by providing loans between N10,000 and N100,000 at no monthly cost to beneficiaries.
The Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSF) aims to deliver school feeding to young children with a specific focus on increasing school enrollment, reducing the incidence of malnutrition (especially among the poor and those ordinarily unable to eat a meal-a-day) empowering community women as cooks and by supporting small farmers that help stimulate economic growth11. Lofty as these social protection programmes are since its launch in 2016, the implementation since inception has been buffeted with serious governance challenges to with; a) Lack of legal and institutional frameworks. An appropriate legal framework which establishes entitlements in a clear and transparent way and allow persons who are entitled to benefits to make claims and obtain redress in case of a violation of their rights. It also meant to protect people from arbitrary or discretionary selection and decision making, facilitate access to social protection and help guaranteeing equality of treatment. Legal and institutional frameworks are also essential for establishing the roles and responsibilities of the different actors involved in designing, administering, delivering, and enforcing social protection systems.
These are currently lacking in the Nigerian SIP. There is no law backing the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) or National Social Safety-Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) as an instance. b) Low level of awareness amongst Nigerians of SIP programme and how the programme works, leading to uninformed criticisms, and buy-in by a significant chunk of citizens of Nigeria. c) Inadequate financing. There was a slash in SIP budgetary allocation by 94 per cent (N30billion) in the 2020 budget. The Federal Government had committed to spending N500billion annually on SIP. At the moment, 80 per cent of funds for the SIP came from recovered $322.5million Abacha loot, while the remaining 20 percent is credit from World Bank. Limited coverage of beneficiaries/enrollees. d) Corrupt practices amongst some key actors. There have been reported cases of under payment of Cash Transfer beneficiaries (stealing from the poor) by some payment officers e) Weaknesses of Grievance Redress Mechanism-Poor attention to complaints from beneficiaries/enrollees f) Weak capacity of some officials in the discharge of their duties. g) Poor investment by some beneficiaries of ‘Trader Money,’ Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme as well as CCT h) Weaknesses in measuring Results and Impact of the SIP. Some of these challenges and weaknesses are directly attributable to weaknesses in institutions responsible for the implementation of the programmes and insufficient political will to drive this process. Beyond these, Nigeria is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and Africa Union Agenda 2063.
Four SDGs that relate to social protection in their goals or targets are: Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere. Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Meeting these goals and targets also remains a tall order for Nigeria. In fact, because of Nigeria’s poverty levels, there are strong indications that the world would not be able to meet the SDGs. Civil Society and Trade Union involvement in implementation and Monitoring is not up to speed. Besides the Federal Government, sub-national governments are not known to implement SIPs in Nigeria even though, Nigeria practices a federal system of government.
Expectations are that states would complement the efforts of the federal Government by setting up their own SIPs, this is not happening yet, if at all not at any appreciable scale. Page 5 of 10 At the moment, there is no law backing SIP in Nigeria. At the national, the National Assembly does not oversight the programme and they have raised concerns in this regard following the distribution of COVID- 19 palliatives to some poor and vulnerable Nigerians in the face of nationwide lockdown. Also, the programme is tilted towards the poor in majority ethnic groups leaving out the poor in minority ethnic groups. Reforms are required to deal with these lapses and even ensure that similar problems are not taken down to the sub-national levels. Also, some critics of the programme believe that N5,000 monthly stipend is too small to lift the poor out of poverty and they prefer some higher amounts. It is against this background and in line with our vision of Africa Without Poverty that ANEEJ has designed this project, entitled Enhancing Social Protection Programme in Nigeria (ESPPIN).
To strengthen Social Protection Programmes in Nigeria and advocate for the implementation of SIPs in five states- Three in the Niger Delta and two in other parts of the country (South West and South East)
Social protection for the poor and vulnerable citizens
Oct 2020-Sept 2023