THE IMPACT OF NATIONAL POVERTY ERADICATION PROGRAMME (NAPEP) ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NIGERIA
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1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The concept of poverty and material deprivation is a critical one in contemporary social discussions. Social Sciences’ literature is replete with attempt by Economists and other Social Scientists to conceptualize the phenomenon. Poverty has economic, social and political ramifications. The poor are materially deprived, socially alienated and politically excommunicated. Basically, Poverty has been conceptualized in the following ways:
a. Lack of access to basic needs/goods and
b. Lack of or impaired access to productive resources.
Poverty as lack of access to basic needs/goods is essentially economic or consumption oriented. Thus the poor are conceived as those individuals or households in a particular society, incapable of purchasing a specified basket of basic goods and services. Basic goods as used here include; food, shelter, water, health care, access to productive resources including education, working skill and tools, political and civil rights to participate in decisions concerning socio-economic conditions (Ajakaiye and Adeyeye 2001 in Gbosi, 2004). It is generally agreed that in conceptualizing poverty, low income or low consumption is its symptom.
The level of poverty in Nigeria since the implementation of SAP in the 1980s has tremendously increased (UNDP Nigeria, 1998; FOS, 1999; World Bank, 1999).
The poverty profile in Nigeria showed that the incidence of poverty increased from 28.1% in 1980 to 43.6% in 1985 but declined to 42.7% in 1992 and rose again to 65.6% in 1996 (FOS 1999). Since 1990 the country has been classified as a poor nation. The UNDP Human Development Indices (HDI) for 2001 ranked Nigeria the 142nd with HDI of 0.40 among the poorest countries.
From 1980-1996, the population of poor Nigerians increased four folds in absolute terms. The percentage of the core poor increased from 62% in 1980 to 93% in 1996 whereas the moderately poor only rose from 28.9% in 1992 to 36.3% in 1996 (FOS, 1999). The analysis of the depth and severity of poverty in Nigeria showed that rural areas were the most affected. Several reasons accounted for the situation viz;
a. the large concentration of the populace in the rural areas,
b. many years of neglect of the rural areas in terms of infrastructural development and lack of information on the way government is being run.
The CBN/World Bank study on poverty Assessment and Alleviation in Nigeria (1999) attested to the fact that the living and environmental conditions of those living in the rural areas have worsened. Urban poverty is also on the increase in the country. This has been attributed to the under provision of facilities and amenities which are already inadequate to match the growing demand of the urban populace as well as the rural-urban movement which has caused serious pressure on the existing infrastructural facilities.
Concern about this problems as well as efforts made to eradicate or at least reduce it cannot be said to be new. While major reductions in poverty level have been made in developed countries, developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, have been battling with poverty, from one poverty alleviation programme to another eradication programme, but all to no avail.
The concern over increasing poverty levels in Nigeria and the need for its eradication as a means of improving the standard of living of the people has led to the conceptualization and implementation of various targeted or non-targeted poverty eradication and alleviation-programmes. Both the Nigerian government and donor agencies have been active in efforts in analyzing and finding solutions to the increase of poverty level. Government programmes and agencies designed to impact on poverty include:
a. The Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (D.F.F.R.I).
b. The National Directorate of Employment (NDE)
c. The establishment of the Peoples Bank of Nigeria in 1989.
d. The Better Life Programme (BLP)
e. The Family Support Programme (FSP)
f. The Agricultural Development Programme (ADP)
g. National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA).
h. The Nomadic and Adult Education Programme established in 1986.
And most recently, with the return of democracy on May 29, 1999 the Federal Government embarked on poverty reduction programme specifically, the government put up the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) in the year 2000 which took off in 2001. It was aimed at eradicating absolute poverty and it consist of four schemes namely;
a. Youth Empowerment Scheme, Rural Infrastructures and Development Scheme
b. Social Welfare Services Scheme
c. Rural Resources Development and
d. Conservation Scheme.
To implement thus programmes, the government placed emphasis on complementation, collaboration and coordination between the various tiers of government on the one hand and between government, Donor/Agencies, non-governmental organizations and local communities on the other. A multi-agency implementation structure with coordination, monitoring and evaluating organ was introduced in order to ensure cost effective delivery target with optimal social benefit. Particularly this programme, NAPEP is being implemented in Nigeria till date. The questions arising from the implementation of NAPEP include:
a. Is poverty eradicating programe appropriate for Nigeria?
b. How has government’s concept of NAPEP affected its success?
c. How has NAPEP’s activities impacted on poverty reduction as a boost to economic development?
In spite of all the laudable efforts at addressing poverty, the problem still persist in Nigeria.