The All Progressives Congress (APC) rode on the wind of “CHANGE”, making lots of promises in its campaigns to oust the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2015 elections. One of the key promises made by the Buhari/Osinbajo administration was the vow to create a Social Welfare Program of at least Five Thousand Naira (N5000) that will cater for the 25 million poorest and most vulnerable citizens upon the demonstration of children’s enrolment in school and evidence of immunisation to help promote family stability.
“As a nation and Sub Saharan Africa’s leading energy producer, we had in the past squandered the opportunity to build functional infrastructure to better the lives of the average Nigerian. We can no longer afford this luxury of inactivity. We must revive our public and private sectors in order to provide functional services and secure the good of the individual Nigerian and his or her family,” Buhari said in a document that revealed some of his plans for 2015.
This promise gave hope to millions of families, youths and women knowing that this policy would ameliorate the pains and sufferings of the teeming youths who bear the brunt of economic hardships.
On paper, this sounded like a good idea knowing that unemployed youths including those who have finished the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) have a hope of getting some cash in their pockets pending the time when they get a good job, also
Six months into this administration there is now a level of uncertainty on how the government plans to keep this promise in the face of changing economic realities.
Oil prices now hover around $48 to $50, which is a significant drop from the era of $80 to $140 per barrel oil.
We takes a critical look at some of the issues that the implementation of this policy throws up:
1. The welfare spending can stimulate the economy: If the FG pays out N5, 000 every month to the unemployed, it will stimulate the economy as more people are likely to spend than save. Some of the spending could even go into petty businesses which also keeps people employed, albeit underemployed.
2. It can help in reducing poverty: Whilst N5,000 is still below our minimum wage, it is very critical in helping reduce the effect of poverty.
3. Giving stipends to they youth will help to reduce the rising crime rate: Millions of people wake up hungry, having no idea of where the next meal will come from, this pushes people to commit crimes. Having N5, 000 in your pocket will take off the temptation to do evil….at least for a week.
1. Increased Debt:
The Federal Government would have to borrow to be able to finance this project. Declining revenues from crude oil will mean the FG have to look for alternatives to raise money to fund this project.
2. The project can be usurped due to the lack of a National Identity Database:
There are still doubts about the database our agencies churn out frequently. For example a lot of people believe Lagos is the most populated state in the country while others think it is Kano. No one knows the amount of people coming into the country on a daily basis through the borders, ports etc. Most of our data is based on speculation.
How many youths in Nigeria are unemployed? 25 million? 30 million? 40 million? Nobody really knows, how the FG plans to get accurate and reliable data on those who are 100% unemployed and not under employed.
3. Lack of concrete data can lead to fraud, making associated costs spiral out of control:
Lack of reliable data on the real number of unemployed youths will likely make this scheme prone to fraud as it can easily be manipulated by the authorities in charge to pocket some extra change for themselves. This could cause corruption to fester.
Assuming an unemployed population of 25 million, doing the math: N5, 000 x 25 million x 12 months = 1.5 trillion.
This is a humongous amount of money. How long will the FG keep up with this amount, also factoring the rise in population growth over the next few years?