Probe Buhari’s Social Investment Programme, CSOs in Northern Nigeria Tell EFCC, ICPC

*Wonder why poverty level in region remains high despite N500bn disbursed annually 

*To grill presidential candidates over plans to tackle poverty 

*Sokoto faults NBS rating of state with highest level of poverty

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja and Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto

The Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks has said the over N500 billion disbursed by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration annually for the National Social Investment Programme did not achieve the desired objective going by the high rate of poverty in the northern part of Nigeria.
The group, made up of 3,000 various civil society organisations in the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, stated this at a news conference in Abuja yesterday.

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had at the Emir of Dutse’s palace in 2018, said the federal government was spending N500 billion annually on poverty alleviation programmes. He had said the programme included the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, Home Grown School Feeding among others, meant to assist petty traders, university graduates, NCE holders and other less-privileged Nigerians.

Owing to this and considering a recently released report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that showed that no fewer than 133 million Nigerians, representing 63 per cent of the population were currently living in multi-dimensional poverty, with the highest rate in northern Nigeria, the group called on the anti-graft agencies in the country to probe the NSIP programme with a view to prosecuting those who handled the funds disbursement.
The President of the Coalition, Ambassador Ibrahim A. Waiya, who addressed journalists on behalf of his colleagues, lamented that the poverty level was too high despite the N500 billion injected into the NSIP every year.

He said all the 18 presidential candidates must explain to Nigerians their plans to tackle poverty.
The group said, “Considering the huge investment of this government on social investment programmes, and the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics on the increased rate of poverty in the country, we beseech the leadership of anti- graft agencies such as the EFCC and the ICPC to conduct a discrete investigation on the funds claimed to be disbursed by some federal government Ministries and Agencies to find out what has gone wrong.
“The EFCC and the ICPC should ensure that all those involved in the mismanagement of the over N500 billion fund should be arrested and prosecuted.
“The investigation into this matter is significant, as there is no correlation between the funds invested in the social protection programmes and the increased rate of poverty in the country.

“The most recent figures made available by the National Bureau of Statistics referred to as Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Survey, has unambiguously indicated that things are worse than what they were formerly observed and predicted in 2015.
“The results of this survey amongst other issues have exposed in detail the effects of corruption in the national economic lives of the people, as 63 per cent of persons living within Nigeria representing 133 million people, are multi-dimensionally poor.

“Sixty-five per cent of the poor representing 86 million people live in the north. Similarly, 35 per cent of this figure representing nearly 47 million live in the south.
“The report also stated clearly that poverty levels across states vary significantly, with the incidence of multidimensional poverty ranging from as low as 27 per cent in Ondo (south) to a high level of 91 per cent in Sokoto (north).”
He added: “This survey which was carried out by a government-owned agency even proved beyond reasonable doubt that the world had underestimated the poverty rating of Nigeria, as reported on World Poverty Clock.

“Riding on the above, it is becoming more evident that, the crusade against corruption in Nigeria, is most needed now more than ever, as most of the factors that contribute to the level of poverty in Nigeria, are attributed to the high level of corruption in governance as well as in other sectors of the economy.
“It is on this note, we feel the imperative need to specially acknowledge the efforts of the current leadership of the EFCC led by a focused, energetic and vibrant young man, Abdulrasheed Bawa, who in his ingenuity has gradually institutionalised a whistle blowing system that has exposed several conduits of financial embezzlement among government officials (civil servants and elected officials) across the country.

“The north seemed to be taking a lead in this, no wonder the just concluded multidimensional poverty index survey which placed northern Nigeria at 65 per cent representing 86 million people, out of the total estimated multidimensional poor which stood at 133 million people in Nigeria,” Waya said.
While stating that they would engage all the 18 presidential candidates and know what they would do to address the poverty level, the CSOs encourage the leadership of EFCC to continue on its current path of chasing the corrupt elements in and out of power irrespective of tribe, religion and region to rid our society of corruption, and to bring them to book.

He said, “We equally encourage the Commission to continue to uphold the best practices of professionalism and neutrality, and also to implore the Commission to continue to remain focused and should not allow itself to be distracted by noise makers and politically motivated sentiments.
“While EFCC currently focuses keenly on ensuring effective trail and arrest of currency speculators and those who stashed funds for illicit purposes, we call on the attention of the EFCC leadership to be alert on the after-currency redesign effects, to avoid hoarding of the new notes and other misgivings by financial institutions and politicians across the country.

“We wish to implore the leadership of the EFCC to consider using the plea bargain option to dispose of the old and long pending litigations that have been in the Courts, from five years above, to save public resources wasted on hiring lawyers for ligations, which many at times the defendants are set free in the end.
“As Nigerians yearn for a better Nigeria, Civil Society Organisations and International Community are closely monitoring the unfolding political happenings in the country.

“It is our prayer that INEC shall do everything possible to uphold its integrity to conduct credible, free, fair and transparent elections come 2023.
“Consequently, as part of resolve to promote the advocacy for good governance in Nigeria, the conference is planning to engage some selected Presidential candidates for setting a development agenda that shall have the bearing of some critical issues of concern to northern Nigeria, such as: out of school children which has now been placed at 20 million, poverty, maternal health, security and the rest.

“It is our hope that, we shall secure the commitment of the potentially engaged presidential candidates, by ensuring that adequate priority is accorded to such development deficit through aggressive and well defined interventions programmes to address them.  
“We wish to also, considering the huge investment of this government on social investment programmes, and the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics on the increased rate of poverty in the country.

“We beseech the leadership of Anti- graft agencies such as EFFC and ICPC to conduct a discrete investigation on the funds claimed to be disbursed by some Federal Government Ministries and Agencies to find out what has gone wrong.
“The investigation into this matter is significant, as there is no correlation between the funds invested in the social protection programmes and the increased rate of poverty in the country.
“It is pertinent to commend the efforts of the security agencies in the recent weeks for their continued onslaught on bandits and insurgents across many states in the country.

“We do hope that federal government shall continue to do everything possible to neutralise the bandits completely before another rainy season that gives them cover comes. It is our hope that this tempo shall be sustained to ensure that, security and public safety is restored in all parts of the country.
“While we commend the doggedness of the Muhammadu Buhari-led government for the giant strives at ensuring that, the oil drilling in some states have become a reality.

“Similarly, we wish to call on the Federal government to expedite actions to ensure the completion of other critical projects such as: Mambila Power project, Ajaokuta Steel Company, Baro Ports, Abuja to Kano Road, Kano to Katsina Road, Kano to Lagos Rail line, Lagos Ibadan Road and the rest around the country.
“This we believe shall surely promote economic activities in the country, as well provide job opportunities for the Nigerians citizens.
 “It is pertinent to recognise the foresight and commitment of the House of Representatives for taking the bull by the horn to establish a commission for Almajiris and out of School Children, through a bill which has successfully passed the second reading.

“This giant strive shall surely complement and consolidate the efforts of other previous administrations to address the lingering issue of Almajiris children in the country, as well as out of school children in other parts of the country.
“While we await the smooth passing of this historic bill, we commend the vision of the sponsors and all those that have supported this laudable initiative, especially the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Right Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, ” the CSOs added.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning Sokoto State, Alhaji Arzika Bodinga has expressed dismayed over the recent ranking of Sokoto state as the poorest state in the country.
Bodinga said this at a one-day workshop on Dissemination of the 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS)/ National Immunisation Coverage Survey (NICS) 2021 in Sokoto recently.

Bodinga said: “We are asking for more serious scrutiny on the figure, rankings, I dare the agency to come up with data of any person found dead on account of hunger along township streets including rural areas across the state.
”Go to Specialist Hospital, Usmanu Danfodio University Teaching Hospital all in Sokoto and monitor how our people troops to donate blood, it is only healthy person that can donate blood.

“The welfare of citizens is not compatible to the related figure and we will continue to push for more positive results.”
According to him, the state in partnership with donor agencies ensured promulgation of Child Protection Law, Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law, Contributory Health Insurance Law and other legal framework.
”We facilitated enactment of food and nutrition policy, the Conditional Cash Transfers Scheme, improve Water and Sanitation Health (WASH) facilities and many social protection policies.

”We focus on Vulnerability and Tackling Policy and other initiatives to monitor peoples’ situations,” he added.
He further acknowledged the support of developmental partners and pledge to continue to consolidate the efforts in strengthening the processes.
Earlier, UNICEF Chief of Field, Sokoto Office, Mrs Maryam Sa’id, said successes and achievements should also be celebrated by Sokoto State government.
Sa’id noted that with no person found dead as result of hunger along with other achievements of laws and policies, government officials should recognize the successes and consider areas that needed upgrade and alignment.

Related Articles