Rethinking Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development in Nigeria: An Advocacy for the Buttom-Top Paradigm
Giving Nigeria’s huge natural resource base for which it earned over US $ 300 billion (From crude oil alone) in the last three decades, as well as the promising options available in agriculture and solid minerals, Nigeria indeed should have no business with being poor. Moreso, its 148 million people (47% of the West-African Sub-Region’ Population) are known to be very hardworking, innovative and resilient. All major economic and social indicators however paint Nigeria in the picture of one of the world’s greatest paradoxes – unimaginable poverty amidst so much. Nigeria is today embarrassingly considered the 25 poorest nations on earth with 70% of its population (As against 15% in 1960), classified as poor and 54.4% vegetating below the bread line of a dollar per day. Life expectancy is barely 50 years (Below those of Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and South-Africa). The government (Federal, State and Local) in the last three decades has reeled out a plethora of policies and programmes aimed at consigning poverty (at least in its alarming dimensions) to history. Though systematic and comprehensive impact evaluation of these efforts is not available, the worsened poverty incidence, depth and severity are evidence that the policies failed. Using secondary data from dependable sources, this paper employs a desk analysis to show that a great deal of poverty policies and programmes in Nigeria tend to undermine the critical input of its primary beneficiaries or targets at the policy formulation and implementation stages, and so they continue to fail. The consequent failure of these efforts to successfully combat poverty, have tended to deepen its manifestations, overwhelm the best of structures, confound policy formulators and frustrate policy implementers. Hence, the unrivalled need for a dispassionate rethink of the traditional but “lame” Top-Down approach. The paper therefore recommends that the primary beneficiaries of poverty reduction initiatives should not just be involved in the bid to tackle their poverty challenge, but should actively participate at all stages of the policy cycle, with the government and professionals playing a catalyzing role. Similarly, since women and children bear a significant portion of Nigeria’s poverty burden, poverty policies and programmes should not just be inclusive it should be significantly gender sensitive and particularly pro-women. The paper also recommends that poverty reduction should be institutionalized, thereby removing it from the list of the “charities” of government. It should be enshrined in very carefully thought out and strategic frameworks, among a host of others.
Key words: Poverty reduction; Sustainable development; Top-Down approach; Buttom-Top approach; Policy formulation; Policy implementation
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