1.1 Background to the Study
Poverty far from being a condition in which a person or people cannot afford the basic material necessities without which life becomes virtually unlivable, is a multidimensional and multifaceted phenomenon. Politically, it goes back beyond income inequality as it includes rights, power relations and access to and distribution of resources. Socially, it involves the question of human dignity, social relationships and opportunities. Thus poverty has become a social reality and a global affliction which virtually seems to have defied a permanent solution. This is why Onah (2006:314) emphasized that:
The issue of poverty has provoked concerns and debates among scholars and organizations in the world. It has become an issue of global interest. It is a socio-economic epidemic affecting majority of the people in the world, including Nigeria.
Poverty as the Central Bank of Nigeria (2004) and Word Bank (1991:1) stressed is one of the symptoms and manifestations of underdevelopment. Nigeria’s poverty rate over the years has continued to grow unabated. According to the United Nations Reports (1999-2001) Nigeria’s Human Poverty Index (HPI) was 41.6% which places the country among the 25 poorest nations in the world. The HPI for some other African countries as indicated in the reports indicated that Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya Burkina Faso and Niger has 17.3%, 22.9%, 26.1%, 58.3% and 66.0% respectively.
Additional data from the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS, 1999) cited in Nwatu, (2006:295) further indicated that the life expectancy for Nigeria was 51 years, literacy rate was 51% and 70% of the rural population do not have access to potable water, healthcare facilities and electricity. The adult illiteracy rate for Nigeria is also increasing at a galloping rate while the infant mortality rates for Nigeria were 82 and 191 by 1995 Soludo (2004:12).
Assessment of the Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) indicated that the state by state poverty incidence in Nigeria between 1980 to 1996 show clearly high varying poverty levels among the states of the federation which simply tells us that the issue of poverty affects every nook and cranny of Nigeria (Soludo, 2004).
In the post colonial epoch of Nigeria, poverty has intensified by the many years of military rule and political instability and failure of civilian government since over 50 years, of independence from the British colonial era, coupled with poor policy and programme implementation, fiscal neglect, mismanagement, lack of investment to create employment opportunities that trickle down economic opportunities, corruption, and misappropriation, are the root causes of poverty in the country. Although, poverty in Nigeria has colonial inducement but there are still no holistic policy approach to tackle the problem in the post-colonial era.
Despite of the above, the Nigerian state through her government has expressed determination and effort at uplifting the living conditions of Nigerians, especially the poor. All of Nigeria’s National development plans since 1970, have emphasized poverty eradication as a key area of every government in power. Since 1970, Nigerian governments-military and civilian rules have created virtually tantalizing array of policies, plans, programmes and projects to eliminate poverty. These include, Operation Feed the Nation (OFN); Green Revolution (GR), Directorate for Food Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI); National Directorate for Employment (NDE); Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP); Go Bank to Land Porgamme (GBLP); Better Life for Rural Women Programme (BLRWP); Federal Urban Mass Transit Authority (FUMTA), Nigerian Agricultural Corporative and Rural Development Bank (NAPCRDB); National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), Community Based Poverty Reduction (CBPR), and others which billions of naira and dollars have been invested in by both governmental and non-governmental agencies especially the donor agencies such as World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations Children’s Fund, International Development Association, among others.
Apparently, these policies, plans, programmes and projects initiated by the government as its efforts to reduce poverty have explicitly failed to in their objectives to reduce poverty as it is more evident that poverty is still a chronic national problem. There is still a strong believe that poverty is at increase in some states where CBPR was implemented such as Ebonyi, Kwara, Sokoto, Therefore, this study is an attempt to critically examine the Community Based Poverty Reduction (CBPR) programme implemented by the Federal Government through the National Planning Commission (NPC).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Poverty has indeed become a pandemic national disease with symptomatic effects of high unemployment rates, poor health care, poor accessibility to water, food, housing, low human development, low per capita income, and poor infrastructural development. This has no doubt made poverty alleviation programme a recurring decimal in Nigeria’s public policy either in the military or the civilian rule as no administration has come to power without initiating a poverty alleviation package. In contrast, there are no empirical evidence or justifications to show for the enormous resources put into these programmes, as the rate of poverty has been progressively on the increase with each new poverty alleviation programme being implemented. Many people particularly in the rural areas are not aware of various government programmes on poverty alleviation. Those that are aware also hardly benefit from such poverty alleviation programmes due to some problems which one could describe as poor implementation and evaluation of programmes. The truth is that the beneficiaries of these poverty alleviation programmes are mainly people far above the poverty line or the rich. This situation has always present these programmes as illusive and deceit on the view of poor population (Nwatu, 2006).
Also in a situation, where the programme pays off, the situation is such that while in some areas governments addresses some of their community needs, in some other areas, there are no adequate provisions of government social amenities to better their lives. Hence, such communities resort to self-help community development projects in addressing some of their community needs. This has been a recurring decimal in Nigeria especially in the rural communities. Most communities in Nigeria exist with virtually no good roads, portable drinking water, security, health care clinic, electricity and good education due to absence of primary and secondary schools in the areas. For instance, the report of the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) 2004, gave that about 40 per cent of rural communities lack electricity, good motorable roads, standard health centres and good water supply. Evidence from the NEEDS (2004:1) put that:
Poverty has become endemic in Nigeria with almost 70% of the population below the poverty line. Poverty implies all the associated problems of low incomes, poor education and health, malnutrition, as well as social and political exclusion.
The failure of previous anti-poverty programmes is partly because of lack of involvement or participation of the people and politicization of the programmes. As carefully demonstrated by some scholars like (Nwatu, 2006:295; Onah, 2005:67 and Ukwedeh, 2003:245), this is true of such national initiatives on poverty alleviation like National Accelerated Food Topicion Programme (NAFPP), Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Nigerian Green Revolution (NGR), Directorate for Food Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), National Directorate Employment (NDE), Better Life for Rural Women Programme (BLRWP), Family Support Programme (FSP), Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP), Former Poverty Alleviation Programme and now National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP). As a matter of fact, the initiation of these programmes as Abdullahi (2006:2) has strongly argued do not take into consideration, the environmental impact analysis (EIA) and social impact analysis (SIA) to give the problem a holistic approach.
Apparently, poverty alleviation programmes fail to achieve their objectives in the face of high incidence of corruption and lack of accountability of the implementing agencies. In most cases, at the implementing stage, the resources and funds allocated for the poverty alleviation programmes in Nigeria are diverted to private purse leaving the objectives of the programmes totally unachievable. In other words, programmes monitoring and evaluation are given less attention. In this condition, it becomes difficult to clearly ascertain who actually benefits from the programme, and the targeted population groups are not in most the true beneficiaries. Poor programme monitoring and evaluation hinders the progress and success of poverty alleviation programmes.
Therefore, it is against this lacuna that the researcher tends to investigate on the poverty reduction strategies in Nigeria using the Community-Based Poverty Reduction Project (CPRP) implemented by the Federal Government through the National Planning Commission (NPC). Bearing in mind that poverty rate in most of the states where CPRP is being implemented such as Abia, Cross-River, Ebonyi, Edo, Gombe, Kogi, Kwara, Osun, Zamfara and Yobe is still on the high side. In view of the foregoing, the study raises the following questions:
- To what extent has the Community-Based Poverty Reduction Project (CPRP) reduced poverty rate in the states where it is piloted?
- Why has Nigeria’s poverty rate continued to grow despite the government efforts to reduce poverty through poverty alleviation programmes such as CPRP?
- How effective are the implementation strategies adopted by CPRP in achieving its mandates in reducing poverty in the states where it is piloted?
- What are the implementation problems affecting the CPRP programmes in these states where it is piloted?
- What are the measures to be adopted in ensuring effective implementation and sustainability of CPRP programmes in the participating states?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are grouped into broad and specific objectives. The broad objective of this study is to assess the poverty reduction strategies adopted by government in Nigeria especially as it concerns CPRP.
Other specific objectives of the study are to:
- Ascertain the extent Community-Based Poverty Reduction Project (CPRP) has reduced poverty rate in the states where it is piloted.
- Ascertain why Nigeria’s poverty rate has continued to grow despite the government efforts to reduce poverty through poverty alleviation programmes such as CPRP.
- Examine how effective the implementation strategies adopted by CPRP are in achieving its mandates in reducing poverty in the states where it is piloted.
- Identify the implementation problems affecting the programmes of CPRP in these states where it is piloted.
- Outline measures towards ensuring effective implementation and sustainability of CPRP programmes in the participating states.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The significance is two-fold, theoretical and empirical significance. Theoretically, the study has the potential of contributing greatly to the growth of existing theories in social sciences particularly in public administration by helping to enrich the bank of knowledge through its reliable findings on the activities of the Community-Based Poverty Reduction Poverty (CPRP) in the implementing states. This is to say that our study would assist in improving the frontiers of knowledge especially in managing public programmes in Nigeria especially as it concerns the evaluation of the poverty reduction programmes in Nigeria. The study will be of immense significance in ascertaining the progress so far made by CPRP in reducing poverty in these states. On the other hand, the study will assist in unveiling the challenges or factors militating against effective implementation of poverty reduction programmes in Nigeria and will make useful suggestions towards ensuring the achievement of goals of government poverty reduction programmes.
Empirically, this study is considered significant because it will contribute in providing the decision makers and other key actors in the government the road- maps that will necessitate prompt, responsive and efficient policy making in Nigerian poverty reduction programmes. It will also suggest the panacea through which frequent failures in Nigerian poverty reduction programmes will be overcome in order to achieve the targeted objectives towards poverty reduction in Nigeria.
1.5 Scope and Limitations of the Study
Every research study must have a scope and therefore must be pinpointed. This study, as matter of fact, focuses on poverty reduction programmes in Nigeria but narrowed down to the evaluation of the Community-Based Poverty Reduction Project (CPRP) in the states where it is piloted.
Nevertheless, a study of this magnitude cannot be completed successfully without the research encountering some constraints or limitations. Therefore, this work will not pretend to be containing all information on the poverty alleviation programmes in Nigeria rather it will endeavour to highlight the dominant issues on poverty reduction programmes in Nigeria especially as it concerns the evaluation of CPRP.
It is pertinent to mention that inadequacy of data or near absence of a reliable and up-to-date central data bank on the theme of this study, which has been compounded by the inability of public bureaucrats to grant full access to the researcher nearly marred the effort of the researcher. In other words, paucity of literature on the activities of CPRP in the states where it is implemented almost marred the effort of the researcher. Also most of the relevant information collected so far, for this study is not narrowed down to the states where CPRP is being implemented.
On the other hand, some information was classified information and out of bound to non-staff of the (CPRP). Considering this, the researcher sought other means to supplement and consolidate the information through the use of internet materials, text books, journals, newspapers, magazines and past research project by students and research institutes. Further information was collected from the selected people both staff of CPRP in some states nearer to the researcher and some communities that have benefited from CPRP programmes using questionnaire and interview.