Poverty is an enemy of man, it humiliates and dehumanises its victim. The paper examines poverty alleviation policies and programmes of government and came to the conclusion that these policies failed to alleviate, instead elevated poverty in the country. The reasons for these include corruption in government and neglect of the target group – the poor, who were never considered during the formulation of these policies. The paper suggests that government should intensify the war against corruption and carry along the target group – the poor, in formulation of its programmes by making ‘pro-poor’ policies its focus as a basis for poverty alleviation.
Poverty has been a serious challenge to governments in Nigeria. Its effect, which includes lack and deprivation in the basic necessities of life, is worrisome. Poverty humiliates and dehumanises its victim. As Ukpong (1996) rightly noted:
…poverty has earned recognition in the extent of its ravaging society and the affairs of humanity at the international, national and local levels…the need exists now for urgent actions towards its eradication and control…indeed, poverty is a snare. It is dehumanising…It must be eradicated… (cited in Obadan, 1996).
In a bid to overcome poverty, governments initiated different policies and programmes between 1986 and 2004 to alleviate it. These programmes include: Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI), Better Life Programme (BLP), Directorate of Employment (NDE); People’ Bank of Nigeria (PBN); Community Bank (CB); Family Support Programme (FSP); Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP); Poverty Eradication Programme (PEP); National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP); and National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) whose aim were to ameliorate the suffering of the people by providing them employment opportunities and access to credit facilities to enable them establish their own businesses.
Scholars and administrators alike have argued that Nigerians have no reason to be poor because of the abundance of human and natural resources including oil and gas available in the country. For instance, Nigeria realized the sum $300 billion from crude oil between 1970 and 1990. In addition, the government earned the total sum of =N= 998.4 billion from crude oil in 2003, yet nothing meaningful to show in terms of development (Ikelegbe, 2004). The objectives of this paper is to identify why poverty persist and suggest possible solutions to overcome it in the country.
The paper is divided into five parts: part one contains the introduction; part two looked at why poverty persist in Nigeria; part three focused on government policies and poverty alleviation; part four discussed government policies and poverty elevation; and part five contains the way forward and conclusion.
II. Why Poverty Persist in Nigeria
The following are some of the factors why poverty persists in the country: 1. Poor macro-economic and monetary policies – These have contributed to high poverty rate. The Nigerian naira that used to exchange for 1.20 Naira to one British Pound in 1986, now exchanges for 240 Naira. The outcome has made it almost impossible for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to thrive, which would have contributed to the reduction of poverty through job creation. 2. Globalisation – This means trade liberalization. Nations are supposed to trade freely amongst themselves for the mutual benefits of their people. As for Nigeria, there are only two major goods that could be marketed – crude oil and agricultural produce. The latter is totally neglected with the discovery of the former in a commercial quantity. The gains of globalisation as currently being enjoyed by developed nations seem to be eluding Nigeria because of her inability to export manufactured goods abroad like other developed nations. 3. Good Governance - Nigeria is yet to experience good...