World Bank has told Nigeria to do everything in its power to lift several people out of extreme poverty in the country by investing in social investment programmes.
This call was made by the Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director who said this at the launch of the Africa Social Safety Nets Report by the National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) and World Bank.
The Details: Nigeria has not been doing enough to fight poverty from its shores. In fact, Nigeria has only spent less than 3% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on social investments. This development has been mind-boggling to Benmessaoud who emphasized the need for the Federal Government to not only fight poverty but also improve economic growth and raise human capital.
Benmessaoud said the World Bank was caring enough to support Nigeria’s social investments and even went ahead to create a Social Registry, containing legitimate names of poor households in parts of the country. This resource built by the World Bank has helped Nigeria in reaching vulnerable people through targeted intervention programmes like conditional cash transfers.
Opposing voices: Unwilling to go down without a fight, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed disputed the World Bank claims as well as the Social Safety Nets report, saying that Nigeria spends more than 3% of GDP on social investments.
Ahmed argued that the report failed to acknowledge other social protection programmes like pensions, health insurance and interventions that targets people living with disabilities.
However, the National Coordinator of the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), Mr Iorwa Apera, promised to work on the next report of social safety nets. He also promised to give a more holistic picture of government’s spending on pro-poor programmes.
What you should know: The Federal Government of Nigeria established the National Social Investments Programmes in 2016, to tackle poverty and hunger across the country.
- The N-power programme is designed to assist the unemployed between the ages of 18 to 35 to acquire and develop life-long skills and are given a stipend of N30,000 monthly.
- The Conditional Cash Transfer programme directly supports those within the lowest poverty bracket by giving them monthly stipends of N5,000.
- The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme is a micro-lending intervention that provides loans between 10,000 and 100,000 to petty traders, artisans, enterprising youth, farmers and women.
- The Home-Grown School Feeding Programme focuses on increasing school enrollment by feeding children in public schools from class one to three while simultaneously empowering community women and small farmers.