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After four years of the Buhari administration, the most vivid legacy it could boast of leaving behind is an opaque N500 billion Social Investment Programmes (SIP). Without stressing the fact of the matter, this statist-leaning programme, aimed at distributing a virtually non-existent national wealth, is so lame in impact, that some of the beneficiaries cannot even describe what the programme was supposed to achieve if they were asked about it.

To add salt to injury, it was in the week rounding off the first term of President Buhari that the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, in a speech, widely criticized the impact of the Federal Government’s so-called Social Investment Programmes. She mentioned that she is yet to encounter anyone, particularly from the North, who has benefitted from any of the loan-based SIPs. She even alleged that just one local government out of 22 in her home state, Adamawa, has accessed the programme. This makes one wonder where all the money had gone.

Though the SIP had a number of ambitious programmes under its wings such as the controversial TraderMoni, MarketMoni, nPower, School Feeding Programme; they have all failed to reduce unemployment, poverty index, corruption, mortality rate, literacy rate, GDP growth rate and other development indexes – within the four years of this administration.

For beneficiaries of the nPower scheme – they have either been reduced to doing the underpaid work which full-time government workers should be doing or have chosen to bribe their way into not showing up for work at their primary places of assignment. On the School Feeding programme being run at primary schools across states in the federation; there has neither been a significant enough increase in the number of school enrollees reported.

Recently, there have been reports that some beneficiaries of the controversial farm loan scheme sponsored by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the widely touted Anchor Borrowers Scheme, are on the run after they have defaulted repayment of the loans. The TraderMoni and MarketMoni programs are supposed to be commerce and trade inducing loans; however, investigations revealed that the N10,000 shared by the TraderMoni, for instance, was done without recourse to vetting beneficiaries and aggregating their details for repayment. I know of a few people who applied for the MarketMoni programme in January 2019, only to never hear from its overseers again, after their biodata had been harvested by chieftains of the APC who sought for the beneficiaries.

These were examples of the issues which the PDP raised with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about the APC harvesting biodata of registrants of these social schemes to doctor results right from INEC’s database, for the 2019 polls. There were also insinuations that party bigwigs in the APC cornered most of these impact programmes for themselves, their loyalists in the party, and ghost beneficiaries. After all, if these party chieftains could not dole out cash to their supporters in the brazen manner in which it used to be done in the days of PDP, perhaps the same purpose can be achieved by switching this largesse under the guise of Social Investment Programmes. The corruption and impunity have been so dank.

Other critics have questioned what basis these social schemes have founded their metrics upon and the methods employed in culling qualified beneficiaries of the scheme. Was the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) involved at all in the very important stages of measuring what sections of the wider Nigerian demography needed more attention, which sections or people ought to benefit more, or which section of the country and class of people would spur a faster growth of the national commonwealth? I doubt that professionals were involved in the process of allocating these social impact programmes.

The fact that these schemes were not well deployed to the section of the public which needed them will continue to haunt its legacy forever. The fact that the ruling party hijacked these schemes, from under the nose of the Presidency and the management of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, as their party’s project for selected sycophants, will continue to taint the history of this administration’s Social Investment Programmes.

The purpose of this piece is not to criticize whether the SIP was the most impactful or the best intervention which the FG could have deployed to rescue our rapidly sinking economy and terrible economic realities, but it is rather to provide an overview of how well and far these intervention programmes might have travelled among the Nigerians who needed them the most.

And the verdict, as agreed by fellow observant and objective citizens, from all indications and measurements, is that these schemes have largely failed to improve the lives of a larger portion of poverty-ridden Nigerians than it has impacted on their fortunes at scale.

Featured image source: The Nation

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This article was first published on 28th May 2019


Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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