President Muhammadu Buhari, some days ago, expressed worry over the high-level of poverty in the country and decried the inability of the elite to attend to the education needs of the less privileged Nigerians. The president stated this when he hosted the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, ministers, service chiefs, heads of security agencies and chief executives of Federal government agencies and institutions at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The president lamented the plight of young people known as Almajiris and challenged the elite to ameliorate the situation. According to the president, “When I drive around the country, what upsets me very much is the status of our poor people in this country. You see young people, the so-called Almajiris with torn dresses, with plastic bowls looking basically for what to eat.”
He also called on the elite to initiate a programme that will guarantee some basic education to poor Nigerians. However, the president lauded the Federal Government’s social intervention programmes such as the School Feeding, N-Power, TraderMoni and others that were put in place to address the rising poverty in the country.
President Buhari heaped encomiums on the Vice President for the success recorded so far in managing the School Feeding and TraderMoni programmes. Although the president blamed the elite for the problem, the fact remains that the buck stops on his table. Therefore, the government should take some responsibility for the nation’s rising poverty and do something far-reaching to address the problem.
We say this because the primary responsibility of government is to ensure the welfare and security of the citizens. Sadly, successive governments in the country have not made concerted efforts to create massive jobs for unemployed Nigerians.
It is unfortunate that successive Nigerian leaders have failed to harness the great potentials of the country in terms of human and material resources. It is unfortunate that decades after independence, the country is still grappling with poverty. Part of the problem is that the country has relied so much on crude oil for over 80 per cent of its revenue earnings.
The government’s diversification drive is moving slowly. It is ironical that a country blessed with abundant human and material resources has become the poverty capital of the world and has overtaken India. There is no doubt that the nation’s high poverty rate has immensely contributed to the recent rise in insurgency, banditry and kidnapping.
The government should be worried that the nation’s out-of-school children figure is put at over 13.2 million as at 2018. The Federal and State governments and other stakeholders must work in concert to ensure that these children are enrolled in school.
Therefore, the government should tackle these challenges. This is not the time to pass the buck. The president must do something quickly, especially now that he is entering his second term in office. All Nigerians, including the elite must work together with the government to move the country forward. The socio-economic development of the country should be the duty of all Nigerians.
However, those in leadership positions must lead the way. But they should do so with personal examples. Nigeria should move away from oil and diversify her economy forthwith. The potentials are huge as the country is blessed with enough material resources. Our population should be an asset and not a problem.
All Nigerian children must be educated up to the basic education level. Their health needs should be taken care of by the government. Therefore, the government must prioritise its healthcare delivery system and make it functional. The budgetary allocations to education, health and agriculture must be significantly increased.
If this is done in the next four years, the government can create 300,000 new jobs annually to reduce the high poverty level in the country. The government should also expand the scope of its social investment programmes and accommodate more beneficiaries. Let the president use his second term to fulfill his campaign promises.