Decries hike in PMS pump price, says poor’ll continue to get poorer
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
An international Civil Society Organisation, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Monday, called for legislative framework backing social investment programmes in the country.
This was stated by a consultant to AAN, Dr Abraham Terfa, who presented ‘ActionAid Nigeria Factsheet in Deepening Tax Provisioning for Social Protection of the Poor’, which assessed current social investment programmes initiated by the Buhari-led administration on various areas.
According to Terfa, due to the absence of a legislative framework to back up social investment programmes, current administrations have failed to continue with such programmes that have left more Nigerians poorer and vulnerable because current administrations jettison such impact making programmes and come up with theirs.
He also disclosed that 16 states were covered in the North, while for the south five states were covered. For the North 1.8 million people were covered, while 500, 000 people were covered in the South.
He also added that more males benefited more than the females under the current social investment programme.
He said: “There is a need for social investment programmes to have legal backing. Like the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, SURE-P, was a social investment programme Nigerians were benefiting and where subsidies were removed from fuel and were channeled into a fund, and as soon as the administration changed that programme ended.
‘Now we are back to a situation where fuel subsidies are being removed again and the people that will bear the fuel subsidy removal are the rural households, women in farming, youths who are struggling in rural areas and this will lead to increased expenditure for them.
“Until we have a framework that captures Nigeria’s social investment programmes in general that also spells out a more committed source of funds through tax provisions is likely that Nigeria is going to continue in this wave of trial and error in terms of social investment programmes.
“He also added that due to lack of employment between the ages of 15 and 54 people begin to settle for less when they are in their 30-50s, and described the situation as a social time-bomb meaning that very soon Nigeria will have a social system that cannot cater for, the health system also cannot accommodate, adult education cannot cater for, and young people without employment will be on the streets on protests upon protests with disregard for law and order.
“Actually, it is an issue of emergency for there to be a legislative framework accompanying and backing up and tying up all our social investment programmes, spelling out how different strata can benefit-persons with disabilities, persons with other ables, women, boy, girls, and different groups.
“Apart from unemployment, there is underemployment. There are many people who are just keeping up with very little resources. There are young people between 15 and 24. Today the value of the Naira is declining so fast and parents cannot account for the whereabouts of their children that is why we need to take social investment seriously.’
He also explained that for AAN to come out with the Factsheet its staff were deployed too difficult to reach villages across the country, where they interacted and felt the pulse of the people at the grassroots.
‘ActionAid sent its staff deep into difficult to reach villages and interacted with them to know how they are benefiting from government social intervention programmes. ActionAid was able to cover 1.8 million people in the north and 419,000 people in the south.
“As soon as these findings came up the next thing is to engage with stakeholders at local, state, and federal levels so that there will be a national buy-in to ensure that there is collective effort so that the people government programme targets actually benefit from it”, he stated.
However, according to him (Terfa) when the Federal ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management, and Social Development, rolled out the process of registering poor and vulnerable persons across the states and local government areas many states did not register their citizens as expected.
“When the Ministry rolled out the process, asking states to register their poor and vulnerable population, many states did not register enough persons as poor and vulnerable that was because what is called poor and vulnerable in Benue, Ebonyi, and Plateau is not as the same with that in Lagos so there is need to redefine what is poor and vulnerable, allow every local government and state government define by themselves; let the poor tell you who is poor.
“The aim of the Ministry is to attain 100 per cent because of the difficulty in registering who is poor and vulnerable in fact we are looking at a range of 40 per cent”, he stated.
He also called for more funding in social investment programmes for sustainability along with a legislative framework.