The political analyst and social commentator Buwa Meldrick Memeh in this article explores the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo's recent declaration that the administration would pursue their campaign promise to pay 5000 naira a month to the unemployed and the poorest youths in the country.
1. The writer talks of Nigerians' expectations for the All Progressives Congress not to honour to its lofty promises and the surprise of the people when the vice president declared the administration's intention to uphold their promise.
2. The writer looks into what mechanism has been put in place or what mechanism would the APC put in place to ensure that indeed only the unemployed and poorest people benefit from this money? What parameters will be used in measuring those regarded as poor?
3. Why must we embark on an unachievable project just because we have made a promise? The Warri man would say ‘’We no dey use shame chop winch’’.
(The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Legit.ng.)
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The news reached us that over the weekend the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo had declared that the Federal Government was keen on delivering its campaign promises by paying 5000 naira to the unemployed and the poorest youths in the country. Some Nigerians applauded the initiative with the opinion that it was not only an indication of better things to come but it indeed showed the commitment of the Federal Government in fulfilling its campaign promises and alleviating the sufferings of the common man. For some of us it was most surprising since we believed it was one of those juicy campaign promises that would never be talked about if eventually the APC got into power.
There was nothing to be sceptical about because we understood that right from day one this promise was made, it only resulted from the spur of that moment and Indeed most of the promises were better off unfulfilled. Of course we understand that in a bid to win the 2015 elections, a lot of unachievable promises might have being made out of the stress that accompanied the campaign and the strong desire to gather juicy points to win the electorates but in the words of my Warri brothers ‘’all those scope na wash’’.
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About two weeks after the elections it was expected that reality must have dawned on the political actors and this would be a time to revisit those ostentatious promises and be sincere about what Nigerians should expect from the Buhari led government. Of course you will certainly agree with me that it is an arrangement of putting the cart before the house but as a realist and one who accepts the fact that in today’s world the Politicians feel more comfortable telling you what you want to hear than the truth or the real situation and that explains why some parents and school children danced the latest steps when the APC scattered boards around Lagos with the promise of a meal per day for all school children.
A lot of questions kept running through my mind and I kept asking, ‘’What mechanism has been put in place or what mechanism would the APC put in place to ensure that indeed only the unemployed and poorest people benefit from this money’’? What parameters will be used in measuring those regarded as poor? Will we not be committing the same mistakes made by the PDP by enriching a few pockets at the expense of the intended target? Does the APC or does Nigeria have a record and database of unemployed citizens? If a man is regarded as unemployed today he can be gainfully employed tomorrow recovering the years the caterpillars have eaten up from him by receiving a pay package that could cover up his years of joblessness.
How do we get that update on his change of status and even when the update is made, how are we sure that those who are in charge of disbursing this money would not be tempted to voluntarily continue receiving it on behalf of the once unemployed youth knowing the corruption bedevilling the civil service and society at large. President Buhari must be very careful not to create another avenue for a scam which will further destroy every good intention he has for the country.
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Using the statistics of 2014, Dr. Okonjo Iweala reported that about 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year and no fewer than 5.3 million youths are jobless in the country not forgetting the fact that in 2014 the National Bureau of Statistics put the population of Nigerians in poverty at 112 million representing about 67 per cent of the country’s 167 million population. Using the 2014 data, the question we must ask ourselves is can the government sustain the payment of 5,000 naira to an estimated target of 112 million naira monthly considering the country’s overdependence on the oil sector and huge recurrent expenditure? At present the states are unable to pay their workers blaming it on the dwindling allocation from the Federal government. Some states owe as much as 8 months and the Federal government is yet to put an end to the lingering fuel scarcity inherited from the Jonathan led administration.
Bearing all these in mind, how sustainable and viable is the initiative?
Another angle we may look at this initiative is from the Ayo Fayose stomach infrastructure perspective. The theory of catching the fish for the people and not empowering them or teaching them the skills used in catching the fish. Can we afford to go with that strategy at this age and time making some people heavily dependent on that 5,000 naira to be paid by the Federal Government? I am quite sure that not even the Federal Government can confidently promise to be prompt in the payment of that amount or continue with the payment of 5000 naira throughout its tenure without defaulting. It would be unfair to raise the hopes of the unemployed and poor and default in payment or start owing them especially when elections draw closer.
In all sincerity we must commend President Buhari on his determination and zeal to deliver and fulfil his campaign promises but Mr. President must also sit down and face the reality that has greeted him.
I can confidently tell you that the school children are eagerly waiting for President Buhari to kick start the free lunch he promised them and some parents cannot wait to strike it out from their monthly family budget but President Buhari needs to more realistic on his set goals. Why must we embark on an unachievable project just because we have made a promise? The Warri man would say ‘’We no dey use shame chop winch’’. Is the Buhari led administration out to impress and shame its critics? It will surely be a bigger shame if President Buhari embarks on this plan and fails to complete or deliver as promised. In fact Nigerians will not forgive him and it will be regarded as another wasteful administration.
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President Buhari has to look at the bigger picture by concentrating on the most important aspects and creating an investment friendly environment. His efforts and recent meetings with World leaders are steps moving at the right direction but he would derail or get distracted when he becomes the fisherman who decides to catch the fish for the poor and unemployed rather than empowering them or building strategies targeted at human capital development. As a matter of fact, President Buhari would be doing more harm than good to the poor and unemployed if he goes ahead with the plan to pay 5000 naira.
If President Buhari successfully addresses the issue of security, power and corruption amongst others, he would have successfully given the poor and unemployed more than 5,000 naira because a large number of the unemployed would have been absorbed into the labour market and there will be a great reduction in the poverty level. The mouths of the public officers who are presently salivating to take advantage of the 5,000 naira plan would have been left dry.
Still in the spirit of change we anticipate a successful tenure. God bless Nigeria.