The Politics of Poverty Alleviation Programmes in Nigeria.


The disease of poverty alleviation programmes more often than not dislocates a system thereby resulting to social, political and economic unrest of the people.

It is in view of these problems that various governments in Nigeria both past and present established different institutions and programmes aimed at reducing poverty.

These includes: National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI), Green Revolution (GR), Operation Feed the Nation (OFN),

Better Life for Rural Women (BLRW), Family Support Programme (FSP), Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP) and Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP).

In spite of the billions of naira pumped into these programmes, not much has been achieved in reducing poverty in our society.

In fact, some government policies such as Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and the implementation of IMF loan conditionalities have rendered useless the strategies aimed at alleviating poverty.

Amongst the reasons why the past poverty alleviation attempts failed were the politics of personal rule- a distinctive type of political system in which the rivalries and struggle of powerful and willful men, rather than impersonal institutions, ideologies, public policies, or class interest, are fundamental in shaping political life.

It is a monopolistic politics as against pluralistic or multiparty politics. It is usually a civilian one-party state or a military dictatorship.

(There is overwhelming believe that Obasanjo’s PDP government was shifted towards a full blown one-party state). It is therefore, the politics of Big-men who are a considerable distance from the ordinary people.


Background of Study

The rising profile of poverty in Nigeria is assuming a worrisome dimension as empirical studies have shown (UNDP 2010). Nigeria has at least half of its population living in abject poverty (Ojo, 2010).

Similarly, the publication of the Federal Office of Statistics (1996) reveals that poverty has been massive, pervasive, and engulfs a large proportion of the Nigerian society.

Abiola and Olaopa (2008) states that the scourge of poverty in Nigeria is an incontrovertible fact, which results in hunger, ignorance, malnutrition, disease, unemployment, poor access to credit facilities, and low life expectancy as well as a general level of human hopelessness.

Moore (2002) asserts that Nigeria presents a paradox. The country is rich, but the people are poor. As noted by Akintude (2005), Nigeria is richly endowed and the country’s wealth potentials manifest in the forms of natural, geographical, and socioeconomic factors.

With this condition, Nigeria should rank among the richest countries of the world that should have no business with extreme poverty.

However, Okpe and Abu (2009) perspicaciously remark that Nigeria has witnessed a monumental increase in the level of poverty. According to them, the poverty level stood at 74.2 percent in the year 2000.

Nigeria has been characterized as a country of “poverty amid plenty” (UNDP, 2010). As observed by Ravallion (1992), the world’s per capita income as of 2003 was $7,140. Compared to this, Nigeria’s per capita of $290 makes the country one of the poorest in the world.


Alleviating Poverty (Internet Document), E. Accessed June 20, 2011. Aliyu, A (Internet Document), http// E. Accessed June 20, 2011.

FRN (2000), Draft National Policy on Poverty Reduction. December, 2000.

Federal Office of Statistics (1996), Socio-Economic Profile of Nigeria, 1996, FOS Lagos.

Obandan, M.I. (2007), Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria. The Way Forward in CBN Economic and

Financial Review, Vol.39, No.4.Participatory Poverty Assessments (Internet Document), http:www.esrftz.ppas.html/.E. Accessed July, 2 2011.

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