AN APPRAISAL OF POVERTY ALLEVIATION PROGRAMMES IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF BENUE, NASARAWA AND PLATEAU STATES, 1986 – 2003 (ECONOMICS RESEARCH PROJECT TOPIC)
In every economy, government policy interventions are aimed at, among other objectives, attaining higher rates of economic growth and development so as to improve the welfare of citizenry bearing in mind the prevailing conditions. The Nigerian military regime, which in the 1980s opted for Structural Adjustment Programme (S.A.P.) as a solution to the ailing economy later discovered that the poor were most adversely affected by the S.A.P. policies. The government therefore found it necessary to put in place programmes meant to provide safety nets for the poor. Some of the programmes that came into being as a result of this concern are the National Directorate of Employment
(NDE), the People’s Bank of Nigeria as well as the Primary Health Care
(PHC). These three programmes are the focus of this research. The study, which relied on primary data generated from an administered questionnaire, was designed to assess the impact of these programmes on the level of poverty in Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau States. Two local government areas in each of the three states were randomly selected for the study. Literature review focused on concepts and measures of poverty, as well as some relevant theories of poverty that seek to expose the causes and effects of poverty in developing countries. In assessing the impact of these programmes in the study area, the research adopted a descriptive approach supported by the Foster, Geer and Thorbecke (FGT) poverty index as well as the Z test distribution at 5% level of significance. Our findings reveal that the programmes have not been able to significantly reduce the level of poverty in the study area. The failure of the programmes to significantly reduce poverty is attributed to among others, the narrow coverage of the programmes and the fact that many of the beneficiaries did not put the skills acquired into use as was expected in respect of National
Directorate of Employment; the loans acquired from People’s Bank were diverted. Primary Health Care facilities were inadequate and failed to meet the minimum expectation of those who patronized them. One of the most significant reasons for the ineffectiveness of these programmes is the non involvement of the stakeholders, particularly the poor who were the target beneficiaries. Thus an important conclusion of the study is that the non involvement of the poor in the programme design and execution is a critical factor in the failure of the programmes. It is therefore the recommendation of this study that the involvement of the poor themselves in the conception, planning and implementation of programmes meant for them as well as the institution of good governance in the administration of pro-poor programmes are crucial in the efforts towards reducing poverty in Nigeria. The involvement of beneficiaries in the programmes ensures ownership and commitment that help to promote sustainability of such programmes thereby making the programmes more effective towards attaining the set goals.