This study titled “Politics of Poverty Reduction in Nigeria” A study of the activities of Ebonyi State Community Poverty Reduction Agency” (EB-CPRA) in Abakaliki LGA was carried out. The broad objective of the study is to ascertain the effects of politics on poverty reduction in Nigeria with specific focus on Ebonyi State Community Poverty Reduction Agency (EB-CPRA). The study was based on descriptive research survey design. Data for the study were generated through both primary and secondary sources. In the field survey, copies of structured questionnaire were distributed to a sample size of 370 respondents through stratified and simple random sampling techniques. The data collected were analyzed that tables, frequencies and simple percentages. The chi-square statistical tools was adopted in testing the three null and alternate hypotheses formulated. Based on the analysis and interpretation of collected data the following funding were made; that EB-CPRA takes the responsibility of initiating and executing poverty reduction programmes in Ebonyi State, poor funding is one of the serious hindrance posed by EB-CPRA to contribute towards poverty reduction in the state and the depoliticization of the EB-CPRA in Ebonyi State will elevate their contribution in poverty reduction in the state. However, it was recommended among others that EB-CPRA should be insulated from active politics, Adequate fund should be made available to the institution and Discipline, codes of conducts and work ethics should be revitalized in EB-CPRA to enforce discipline.
1.1 Background to the Study
The concern about poverty world wide dates back to 1944 when the International Labour Organization (ILO) in its historic Philadelphia declaration drawn up after the second world war, stated that “poverty anywhere constitutes a threat to prosperity”. It was this declaration that necessitated the crusade for poverty alleviation world wide especially in the united states of America, where some segment of the society were identified as being in generally poor state of health and suffering from inadequate diet and poverty (Denis and Williams, 1973).
Overtime, it has been discovered that reducing the menace of poverty remains one of the most difficult challenges facing most countries of the world especially the developing countries where on the average about 67,000 people join the legion of the poor on a daily basis, representing about 25 million every year (Okonkwo, 1998:24).
Nigeria just like many other sub-saharan African countries is neck deep in poverty. The country is characterized by declining per capital incomes, increasing hunger, rising unemployment and environmental degradation. Despite all the various efforts made by various government in Nigeria, to improve the lots of the people through the various poverty alleviation or eradication policies and programme, it is evident that the proportion of people at poverty level has continued to increase. For example, the figure increased from 27% in 1980 to 46% in 1985, it declared slightly to 42% in 1992 and increased very sharply to 66% in 1996. By 1999, estimate had it that more than 70% of Nigerian were living below the poverty line (National Planning Commission, 2004).
In the words of Farnsworth (1990), the problem of poverty in Africa (Nigeria inclusive) does not lie in the quality of individuals aspirations or mental and entrepreneurial endowments but with the structure of African society and its economy. Poverty is a crucial matter in Africa since its inhabitants not only began their independence from an extremely low level of economic and social development but are the only people whose situation is expected to worsen in the coming years. Specifically, in Nigeria today, more than 70% of a population of about 150 million people lives below the poverty line (Gbosi and Omoke, 2004). In recent years, the eradication of poverty has become major goals of Nigerian economic policy. People have become increasingly aware of the great difference that exists in the economic and social circumstances of the people in Nigeria. And some Nigerians have begun to ask whether Nigeria is really the land of opportunity. Throughout most of the Nigerian history, poverty was regarded as a reflection of personal inadequacy and people were expected to pull themselves out of poverty.
However, many Nigerians have come to realize that the causes of poverty are complex and that often, poverty is the seed of discrimination. Recently, the prevailing view has been that equality of opportunity ought to be the birth right of all Nigerians. Thus, poverty could be viewed as a subjective and moral term. For some, it is scientifically established. In view of the foregoing, Nigerian government at various time had frowned at poverty by establishing poverty alleviation programmes aimed at reducing poverty in the country. The various poverty Alleviation programmes in Nigeria had different nomenclature, different structures and different out took, but maintained the central objective of reducing poverty and making life meaningful for the masses. When the present Administration came into the office in May, 1999, it observed with dismay the alarming rate of poverty across the entire country and that Nigeria is classified among the poorest countries in the world. This was a great challenge to government. Consequently, poverty Alleviation programme (PAP) was introduced in the year 2000. Not too long after its take off, it was dawned on the government that (PAD) was not after all the panacea to poverty pandemic in Nigeria. This realization led to the establishment of National poverty Eradication programme/NAPEP/ to replace the former. It has been argued that most of these programmes have had little positive impact on the poor, they have been poorly targeted, sectoral in nature and have often been imposed from above with little, if any commitment or involvement of communities, they were ostensibly attempting to help.
Recently, there has been a reorientation of the government focus towards developing community based poverty reduction approaches. The Federal Government constituted a presidential panel to rationalize and streamline all the poverty reduction strategy document called “Community Action Programme For Poverty Alleviation (CAPPA) prepared by the National Planning Commission (NPC), rooted in a community based approach to poverty alleviation. It was in the light of the above that the Ebonyi State Community Poverty Reduction Agency (EBCPRA) was formed to empower the poor through grass-root participatory decision making. The whole essence was to move from top-down, supply driven and non-participatory mode of delivering service to communities to a demand-driven approach to poverty reduction covering multiple sector depending on specific community determined need. It is against this background that the researcher intends to x-ray the extent the EB-CPRA had gone in empowering the targeted group with particular reference to Abakaliki local Government Area in Ebonyi State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Poverty in Ebonyi State is a pervasive phenomenon characterized by low levels of income and social deprivation. It is the state’s deadliest disease. The Federal Office of Statistics reports that 52.6% of Ebonyian are poor.
Ebonyi is a State divinely blessed with diverse rich human and natural resources to be used for the wellbeing of every Ebonyian. Ebonyi soil is widely acknowledged as the most fertile soil in the south-East. Despite all these gifts of nature, sadly enough, most Ebonyian are living in abject poverty and wants. There is practically lack of basic infrastructure and low level of income. Inspite of the huge sums of money pumped into those National and state poverty reduction programmes, there is still high incidence of poverty. People still die of preventable disease. Other suffers from water born diseases consequent upon poor sources of drinking water. Village women and aged farmers lack access to basic infrastructure like good road, electricity supply, clinics etc. Hence, they find it difficult to evacuate their farm produce to where they can scale it. It appears that the real poor. Have not benefited from there programmes as this like. Another problem is that officials who manage these programmes are corrupt, hence budgetary allocation for poverty reduction are often times siphoned and mismanaged leading to failure of such programmes. Sometimes, politicians do hijack citation of programmes and projects meant for the poor. This unnecessary politicization has been the bane of efforts targeted at poverties reduction in Nigeria and Ebonyi State in particular.
In view of the above, the researcher posed the following question to guide the study.
1) To what extent does Ebonyi State Community Poverty Reduction EB-CPRA) contributed to poverty reduction in Ebonyi State.
2) To ascertain how far political interference affects the performance of EB-CPRA.
3) How does inadequate findings affect the performance of EB-CPRA.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of the study is to ascertain the effects of politics on poverty reduction in Nigeria with specific focus on Ebonyi State Community Poverty Reduction Agency (EB-CPRA).
- To ascertain how far EB-CPRA has contributed to poverty reduction in Ebonyi State.
- To find out hoe far political interference has the fight against poverty in Ebonyi State.
- To ascertain how far inadequate finding has affected the performance of the agency.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
- Ho: EB-CPRA has not significantly contributed to poverty reduction in Ebonyi State.
Hi: EB-CPRA has significantly contributed to poverty reduction in Ebonyi State.
- Ho: Political interference has not significantly hindered the fight against poverty in Ebonyi State.
Hi: Political interference has significantly hindered the fight against poverty in Ebonyi State.
- Ho: Inadequate funding has not been the bane of poverty reduction proramme in Nigeria.
Hi: Inadequate funding has been that bane of poverty reduction programmes in Nigeria.
1.5 Significance of the Study
For clarification, the researcher would be discussing the above sub-topic with reference to its theoretical and empirical significance. This study will serve as an appraisal of the role of Ebonyi State Community Based Poverty Reduction Agency (EBCPRA) with emphasis on Abakaliki local government Area in poverty reduction. Explicitly, the study will be a reference or resource material to government at all levels, civil servants, policy makers, student and indeed the general public. The findings of this of this study will be immensely useful to the growing researcher in different aspect of community development, the findings of the study will serve as a useful reference point to other researchers.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study focused on the politics of poverty reduction in Ebonyi State with particular reference to Abakaliki Local Government Area. The research will cover the period from 23rd august 2005 when the EB-CPRA was officially flagged off by Dr. Sam Egwu able represented by his Deputy professor Chigozie Ogbu, till date.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
The researcher encountered some difficulties in the course of gathering and compelling relevant materials necessary to complete this worthwhile academic exercise. The challenges includes among others;
Firstly, to source materials on related literature constitution its own problem.
Secondly, the staffs were very apprehensive of the exercise because of the fear of being sacked if it is discovered that they leaked official information.
Finally, there were much stress associated with visiting the office in order to gather information needed for the completion of the research work.
It is however, pertinent to mention that all those limitation mentioned above, perhaps have in one way or the other affected the researcher holistic approach to the problem under investigation. Nevertheless, the researcher went ahead to carry on with the study irrespective of some of these identified limitation which have in one way or the other reduced the quality of the research work.
1.8 Theoretical Framework
The theoretical framework adopted for this study is the Noble Lautreate Amantya’s Human Development Approach propounded in 1998. this approach emphasizes first and foremost, the restoration and rehabilitation of the psyche, mind, socio-psychology and being of the poor. It is not the development that is understood in terms of the introduction of advanced technology and complex organization, characteristic of market oriented capitalist production, in which the sources of initiative and development are external to the rural community.
EL-Serfy (1995-62) one of the major proponents of the human development approach to poverty eradication, argued that development should not be equated merely with economic growth because it is not an entirely economic phenomenon, rather it has always implied a systematic and rising prosperity, though it has been associated with social change. Among its manifestation are industrialization, efficiency improved, governance, egalitarian income and wealth distribution and often functioning institutions, the rule of law and the guaranties government of individuals liberties.
As a result, Pitterman, (1995:20) suggested that human capital should be understood not merely as a collection skills but more broadly as a totality of materials, knowledge and attitudes that takes the societal form of culture, deserves more attention as a determinant of the data of and indeed the capacity for modern development. The human development paradigm for poverty reduction is not oblivious of this position. The advocate of this approach to fighting poverty argues that the evolution and inculcation of good rules, skills and attitudes are impinhibitions of the debilitating impacts of poverty.
The relevance of the human development approach to the study is the reminder that the objectives of the development effort are to provide all human being with the opportunity for a full life. When human beings are developed physically and mentally, they are fit to earn a living and become indepent, fend for themselves and family, etc and as well reduced the rate of poverty in the state. All development efforts specifically poverty reduction programmes pursues this kind of development.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Poverty: Poverty is a condition of lack when one is unable to provide his basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.
Community: A group of people living together in one place, locality or districts.
CBRP: Community-Based poverty reduction programme.
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