Eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. While the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped by more than half – from 1.9 billion in 1990, to 836 million in 2015 – too many are still struggling for the most basic human needs.
Globally, more than 800 million people are living on less than $1.25 a day, with many lacking access to adequate food, clean drinking water and proper sanitation. Compared to the rest of the world, the poverty crisis is worse in African countries, including Nigeria, the most populous black nation, where a significant proportion of the poor are chronically poor. Concerned at global poverty, world leaders came together at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGAS) in New York, and on the 25th of September 2015, adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with "No Poverty" as Goal number one.
The basic target of SDG1 is to eradicate all forms of poverty by 2030 and to move the world onto a sustainable development path while ensuring that no one is left behind. This involves focusing on those living in vulnerable situations, increasing access to basic resources and services, and supporting communities affected by conflict and climate-related disasters.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria was one of the leaders who endorsed the global agenda for poverty eradication. He affirmed that his government would provide support for SDGs to succeed in Nigeria, since the SDGs were in tandem with the "Positive Change" mantra of his administration. He pledged to redeem his key campaign promise of lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty through massive social interventions:
"Nigeria will, therefore, continue to leverage on the platform of the Change Agenda of my administration to vigorously pursue the implementation of the SDGs so as to lift our citizens out of poverty and deprivation while at the same time ensuring sound management of our environmental resources."
To demonstrate his administration's commitment towards poverty reduction and effective implementation of the SDGs, President Buhari appointed a seasoned administrator and former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire as his Senior Special Assistant on SDGs. Orelope-Adefulire had served as Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation in Lagos State in 2000, when she worked to tackle an array of issues under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that included slashing poverty, hunger and disease, redressing gender inequality, and increasing access to water and sanitation.
It should be noted that it was the failure of countries such as Nigeria to attain meaningful progress in poverty reduction through the MDGs that led to the adoption of the 17 SDGs including "No Poverty."Transition from MDG1 to SDG1: Present and past poverty alleviation measures
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in September 2000 aimed to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty in the 189 member-countries of the United Nations by 2015. In essence, fighting poverty was cardinal to the MDGs, which represented an attempt at to combat poverty through a global partnership for development, and was seen as the key to Nigeria's escape from the poverty trap. As a member of the United Nations, Nigeria sought to key into the implementation of the MDGs by formulating poverty alleviation programmes.
However, even before the adoption of the MDGs, successive governments in Nigeria had designed different interventionist programmes in reaction to the horrendous poverty crisis in the country. Indeed, measures to combat poverty and promote development in the country started from the beginning of Nigeria's statehood. Experts have categorised the poverty alleviation interventions in Nigeria into the pre-Structural Adjustment Programme (Pre-SAP) era and the SAP/post-SAP era. The SAP was introduced in 1986 by the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida to address the worsening socio-economic situation which had increased the level of poverty in the country.
The policies of the Pre-SAP era, which were essentially ad hoc, included Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), the Green Revolution, the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA), River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA), the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), and Rural Electrification Schemes (RES).
Governments also made efforts to fight poverty during the SAP/Post-SAP era, with programmes which included the Directorate of Food, Roads, and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI), the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Better Life Programme (BLP), the People's Bank of Nigeria (PBN), the Family Support Programme (FSP) and the Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP). Despite these anti-poverty measures, poverty continued to increase, thus exposing the ineffectiveness of the strategies and programmes.
With the return to civilian rule and the inauguration of Nigeria's Fourth Republic in 1999, the new Obasanjo administration introduced its Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) as an interim anti-poverty measure designed to alleviate poverty by providing direct jobs to 200,000 unemployed people. Despite PAP, the incidence of poverty in Nigeria remained high. Recognising PAP's ineffectiveness, the government introduced the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) in 2001. The programme was structured to integrate four sectorial schemes, namely the Youth Empowerment Scheme (YES), the Rural Infrastructure Development Scheme (RIDS), the Social Welfare Scheme (SOWESS) and the Natural Resources Development and Conservation Scheme (NRDCS).
During this period, the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) was introduced as a policy to eradicate poverty and bring about sustainable development. NEEDS was a national framework of action, which had its equivalent at the state and local government levels, namely the State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (SEEDS) and the Local Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (LEEDS). The implementation was done through the collaboration and coordination among the federal and state governments, donor agencies, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders. As a home-grown strategy, NEEDs has been described as the Nigerian version of the MDGs.
However, the poverty reduction measures of the Obasanjo administration did not quite alleviate poverty. According to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) figures for 2004, 54 percent of Nigerians lived below the relative poverty line of 2/3 of per capita households' expenditure, while 22 percent lived below the extreme relative poverty line of 1/3 of per capita households' expenditure.
Nigeria began to find its rhythm in the implementation of the MDGs from 2005. That was the year in which it successfully negotiated debt relief from the Paris Club. This enabled the country to increase and target public investment in pro-poor interventions aimed at achieving the MDGs. In addition, the Presidential Committee on the Assessment and Monitoring of the MDGs and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on MDGs (OSSAP-MDGs) were established to guide the use of the Debt Relief Gains in the execution of pro-poor programmes and projects.
Upon taking office in 2007, President Umaru Yar'Adua sought to improve on the anti-poverty measures of the previous administration by the introduction of a "Seven Point Agenda" on which wealth creation and poverty alleviation were the sixth key area for intervention. However, it did not significantly address the problem, and NBS statistics showed thatby 2010, 60 percent of Nigerians were living in "absolute poverty".
The 2011 Goodluck Jonathan administration embraced the MDGs and produced a "Transformation Agenda" to address rising unemployment, inequality, poverty and other factors which had made it difficult for Nigeria to become a truly great country. Sadly, these poverty alleviation efforts did not yield the expected results, and Nigeria continued to be ranked among the poorest countries in the world in spite its huge natural and human resources. Indeed, the World Bank's global poverty rating in 2014 placed Nigeria among the five poorest countries in the world, revealing that most Nigerians lived on less than one dollar per day. Releasing the report at the 2014 IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in New York, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim emphasised that Nigeria had one of the largest concentration of poor people in the world. In spite of the rebasing of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which confirmed its status as the largest economy in Africa, Kim stated that seven percent of the world's poor lived in Nigeria.
This shows that despite Nigeria's attempts to meet the MDGs, and the activities of the various poverty alleviation agencies established by successive administrations in the country, the scourge of poverty remains widespread.
Related to the high incidence of poverty is low human development. Nigeria's Human Development Index (HDI) score in 2012 was 0.471 (marginally up from 0.434 in 2005), placing the country firmly among those with low human development, as it placed 153rd out of 186 countries.
The inequality index also remained high. High inequality weakens the impact of growth on poverty reduction. Between 1985 and 2004, inequality in the country worsened, with its GINI index coefficient rising from 0.429 in 2004 to 0.45 in 2010, placing the country among those with the highest levels of inequality in the world. This manifests in highly unequal income distribution and differential access to basic infrastructure, education and training and job opportunities.
Nevertheless, "Nigeria 2015: Millennium Development Goals End-Point Report" published by the OSSAP-MDGs with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Department for International Development (DFID) in September 2015, asserted that the country made appreciable progress in attainment of the MDG1 target, "particularly in the fight against hunger, but generally missed meeting the targets of most indicators." According to the report:
"One major challenge to effective poverty reduction in Nigeria is the very limited reduction effect of economic growth. Thus whereas the country recorded largely impressive growth rates in the 2000s decade and in more recent times, this was not entirely inclusive and neither did it reduce poverty or generate employment."
This report served as a guide for the Buhari administration when Nigeria exited the MDGs in 2015 and transited to the SDGs.Buhari administration's poverty reduction strategy
Buhari appealed to industrialised countries to redeem their pledge of earmarking 0.7 percent of their GDP to development assistance, noting that United Kingdom was the only OECD country to have met the UN requirement, adding that "...with SDGs we have the opportunity to improve the lives of people, not just in the developing world, but in all nations."
Beyond this call for development assistance, the Buhari administration has been unwavering in its commitment to the smooth implementation of policies targeted at SDG1. It has embarked on initiatives that tackle poverty from a multi-sectorial perspective in order to create opportunities for good and decent jobs and secure livelihoods. This involves targeting those living in vulnerable situations, increasing access to basic resources and services, and supporting communities affected by conflict and climate-related disasters. The government is also encouraging inclusive and sustainable business practices and promoting better government policies as well as fair and accountable public institutions.
To fast-track his administration's poverty eradication initiative, on the 29th of May 2016, President Buhari launched a N500 billion Social Protection Programme to cater for a larger number of the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians. The programme sought both to start the process of lifting many from poverty, and at the same time, to create the opportunity for people to fend for themselves.
Launching the programme, Buhari lamented that for too long Nigeria has been:
"...a society that neglects the poor and victimizes the weak, a society that promotes profit and growth over development and freedom. A society that fails to recognize that 'poverty is not just lack of money; it is not having the capability to realize one's full potential as a human being.'"
He said that under the Social Protection Programme, N500 billion was appropriated in the 2016 budget for social intervention programmes in five key areas. Of these, the job creation programme, which included the employment of 500,000 teachers and 100,000 artisans across the nation, would also ensure that 5.5 million children are provided with nutritious meals through a home-grown school feeding programme. This would both improve learning outcomes, and raise the rates of enrolment and completion. Through the N-Power programme, the government would pay stipends to unemployed graduates.
The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme would provide financial support for up to one million vulnerable beneficiaries and complement the Enterprise Promotion Programme (EPP) – which was designed for 1.6 million people market traders, youths, artisans, small businesses and agricultural workers across the nation. Beneficiaries were to be given loans ranging from N10,000 to N100,000 with a repayment period of three to six months and administration cost of five percent. Essentially, the EPP is a loan scheme that will be handled by the Bank of Industry (BoI).
The Federal Government is also reviewing the globally acclaimed best practices, such as the Conditional Grants Scheme, to ensure there is right targeting and efficiency in resource allocation to the grassroots.
Through the Education Grant scheme, the government plans to encourage students studying science subjects, technology, engineering and maths, and lay a foundation for human capital development for the next generation.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said that the beauty of the scheme is that it is a combination of several well-thought out programmes which emphasise a direct connection with the extremely poor and the needy, as well as other categories of Nigeria's masses. He asserted that the plan of the Buhari presidency was comprehensive and had taken some of the factors that led to the failure of past poverty alleviation schemes into consideration:
"One of the major differences here is that the social intervention programme such as the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) would be a direct transfer of N5,000 monthly to the extremely poor among us. And this is a safety net that several advanced nations had put in place a long time in their history, and most often at times of economic challenges."
At the Civil Society Information Dissemination on Monitoring Federal Government Social Protection Programme (SPP) on SDGs held at Abuja in September 2016, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, said that despite the paucity of funding occasioned by the then prevailing economic crunch, government would ensure that vulnerable people benefit from the scheme:
"We are developing a comprehensive register of vulnerable people in the society so we want to engage the CSOs to ensure that the register is authentic and realisable. Nigerians are difficult. We were worried about our programme being politicised, so we want to make sure that our programmes reach every Nigerian irrespective of political affiliation, and irrespective of ethnicity or culture."
From the beginning of 2017, the Federal Government began to release money for the implementation of its social investment programmes. It has started funding the Home-grown School Feeding Programme in 17 states of the federation, namely Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ebonyi, Enugu, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Borno, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Delta, Abia and Bauchi.
The N-Power Programme has also taken off, with the employment of 200,000 graduates across the country. In addition, the Conditional Cash Transfer is on course as payment has continued in the nine pilot states of Bauchi, Borno, Niger, Kogi, Cross River, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, and Kwara States.
To sustain the momentum, the 2017 Budget estimates retain the allocation of N500 billion to the Special Intervention Programme. Out of this, N20 billion is earmarked for SDGs conditional grants and social safety nets, while N45 billion is set aside as the North East intervention fund.The birth of the SDGs Private Sector Advisory Group
The Buhari administration takes the view that the social intervention programmes of government alone cannot adequately address the problem of extreme poverty in the country. It is against this background that it is involving the private sector in its poverty reduction drive. To this end, Vice President Osinbajo inaugurated the Sustainable Development Goals Private Sector Advisory Group (SDG-PSAG) on the 28th of February 2017, advising the elite to cater for the needs of poor and vulnerable people.
At the event, which took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Osinbajo remarked that that government decided to involve the private sector because Nigerians believe that it can assist in making a huge difference in their lives.
With so many people caught in the poverty trap, Osinbajo stressed the great need for the private sector elite to invest their money in doing something that would have a real impact, noting that nobody was going to measure the elite by how much money they have or what positions they hold, but their contribution towards lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty:
"This is why I am excited about the public and the private sectors coming together to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are realised in our time and that indeed nobody is left behind."
He added that those holding public positions should also realise that they would be measured by how many poor and vulnerable people they were able to lift out of poverty.
The Vice President described the event as the beginning of partnership between the private and public sectors, and urged the elite to be in the vanguard of doing things that would reduce poverty and transform the country. He said the elite were the ones to whom the transformation of the society belonged to, adding that many societies that had truly transformed did so because their elite decided that it was worthwhile to do so.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, said Nigeria was the first to inaugurate the Private Sector Action Group among the UN-member nations, and that by the event, the nation was standing on the threshold of history to forge a partnership between the private and public sector to build a consensus for the effective realisation of the SDGs.
Orelope-Adefulire said that the present administration is focused on stimulating action over the next 14 years in areas of critical importance, namely poverty and hunger eradication, preventable child death and all-inclusiveness in the Nigerian economy. She stressed that the administration was is committed to the attainment of the SDGs, particularly poverty eradication as this would bring about some much-needed diversification of the Nigerian economy, thereby increasing wealth creation and revenue generation opportunities.
She said that one of the major challenges to implementing the SDGs was inadequate resource flow due to the global economic downturn. This had made it urgent to mobilise private sector funds to implement the SDGs and was what had informed the UN-SDGs Fund to establish the global partnership of the PSAG as a powerful platform for global business leaders to interact, leverage, and exchange cooperation for successful SDGs programmes.
On his part, Edward Kallon, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative said that his recent visits to some Northern states, namely Kaduna, Kano, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, had greatly enriched his understanding and appreciation of the daily struggles and experiences of ordinary Nigerians, especially those in those in the camps established for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP):
"We are living in challenging, and yet interesting, times. The humanitarian crisis in the North-east, coupled with the current economic recession present challenges of unprecedented proportions. But while the challenges are enormous and unprecedented, there are also boundless opportunities. In local communities in the North-east, I have witnessed firsthand, the great resilience of the people of this nation despite the social, economic and ecological vulnerabilities that confront them on a daily basis".
Kallon explained it had become imperative for the vibrant private sector in Nigeria to contribute resources to address the impact of the crisis and to reduce poverty. He urged the private sector to seize the opportunity to marshal all efforts, expertise and resources to bring about tangible and sustainable development in the North-east and other parts of the country.The passage of the National Poverty Eradication Commission Bill
While the executive arm of government is fighting poverty through the social protection programme, on its part the legislative arm is charged with enacting a law that will strengthen the execution of the poverty eradication programmes in Nigeria.
In November 2016, a Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of a National Poverty Eradication Commission (NAPEC) was passed by the Nigerian Senate. The bill seeks to tackle the high rate of poverty in the country.
Submitting a report on behalf of the Senate joint committee on National Planning and Economic Affairs, and Poverty Alleviation and Social Welfare, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso said:
"[This] is the first time in the history of the Nigerian federal legislature that an attempt is boldly being made in passing into law, a Bill that would put to test, the justifiability of economic and social provisions as contained in the Act."
The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said that when established, the commission would serve as a statutory body to coordinate and monitor all poverty-related activities in Nigeria. It would also maintain an outreach with international donor organisations, and that each quarter, it would inform Nigerians amount of poverty reduction or increase as the case may be. Saraki referred to statistics which showed that the rate of poverty in the country was on the increase:
"The World Bank estimate for 2016 suggests that Nigeria's poverty headcount ratio, which is the percentage of the population living below the national poverty line, currently stands at 46 percent. Other developmental partners suggest that the rise in the cost of living around the world due to global fall in oil prices will further affect the poor and the middle class."
Saraki also referred to a recent NBS report which put Nigeria's unemployment rate at 9.9 percent.
"As we are all aware, the higher the rate of poverty and unemployment in the system, the more insecurity you will find in that system. Hence the Senate has taken on the challenge to establish the National Poverty Eradication Commission to serve as a data bank on all poverty related issues in the country."
He said that he was confident that the proposed Commission would go a long way in holistically confronting poverty which was affecting a lot Nigerians.
Senator Ibrahim Gobir, who sponsored the bill, said that unlike the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) and similar agencies already established by the Federal Government, the National Poverty Eradication Commission (NAPEC) would be backed with relevant laws to act as a government agency for catalysing resources at all times for the purposes of eradicating poverty and for mass participation in the economic development process.Nigeria's recent poverty index
The integrated approach adopted by the Buhari administration in the implementation of SDG1 is expected to ensure that the goal is pursued in an inclusive and people-centred manner, with a focus on institutional and policy strengthening.
Yet more than a year and a half after Buhari joined other world leaders to adopt the SDGs with a resolve to attack poverty head on, a large proportion of Nigerians still live below poverty line and are exposed to various vulnerabilities. According to a poverty index report published by the NBS in October 2016, about 112 million Nigerians (representing 67.1 percent of the country's total population of 167million) live below the poverty line.
In the same vein, a recent United Nations report on Nigeria's Common Country Analysis, (CCA), described the country as one of the poorest and most unequal in the world, with over 80 million or 64 percent of her population living below the poverty line. The report was made public in September 2016 during a consultative meeting on the formulation of the UN Development Assistance Framework IV (UNDAF IV) for the South-east geo-political zone in Awka, Anambra State. The report reads in part:
"Poverty and hunger have remained high in rural areas, remote communities and among female-headed households and these cut across the six geo-political zones, with prevalence ranging from approximately 46.9 percent in the South-west to 74.3 percent in North-west and North-east.
In Nigeria, 37 per cent of children under five years old were stunted, 18 percent wasted, 29 per cent underweight and overall, only 10 per cent of children aged 6-23 months are fed appropriately based on recommended infant and young children feeding practices. Youth unemployment which is 42 per cent in 2016 is very high, creating poverty, helplessness, despair and an easy target for crime and terrorism."
The report added that since Nigeria slipped into recession in the second quarter of 2016, the percentage of Nigerians that directly encounters poverty is becoming higher by the day.
As the effects of a slowing economy hit harder, Nigerians are confronted with the rising cost of living, declining productivity and fall in the value of their holdings of the naira, the local currency, following its crash on foreign exchange markets. Ahmed Adamu, a development expert who teaches economics at Umaru Musa Yar'Adua University in Katsina, said that going by the dollar income poverty threshold, more Nigerians are becoming poorer due to the depreciation of the naira: "So, we now have more poor people than before. The wealth of the rich people has also depreciated, as each unit of Naira has reduced in value."
Adamu contended that for Nigeria to eradicate poverty in all its forms by 2030, the poverty threshold should be identified and reviewed regularly and promptly to accommodate inflation and exchange rate fluctuations. He advised the Buhari administration to establish a national action programme against poverty with active private sector participation, which would provide for funds to be collected from various sources and channelled towards eradicating rural and urban poverty in a transparent and accountable manner. He added that in order to effectively reduce poverty in Nigeria, the cost of governance must also be reduced so that resources can be transferred to the productive sectors by empowering young people to acquire modern and relevant skills of creativity and innovation.
Mike Obadan, a Professor Economics at the University of Benin and former Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Economic Management and Administration, Ibadan, said that what is clear from the upward trend in the incidence of poverty in Nigeria is that the economy still suffers a structural weakness as it continues to depend significantly on the production of commodities for export, with little value addition and few backward and forward linkages to other sectors of the economy:
"This structural weakness has prevented the country from translating growth to commensurate employment and faster social development. Yet, structural transformation is essential for the economy to accelerate and then sustain broad-based growth, to improve social conditions by creating jobs, lowering inequality and reducing poverty, and to reduce vulnerability to external shocks."Factors constraining poverty reduction in Nigeria
Despite the plethora of poverty reduction programmes set up by Nigeria to fight poverty over several years, Nigeria is still ranked among the poorest countries in the world.
Some of the major problems constraining the successful implementation of poverty reduction programmes in Nigeria include poor policy formulation, lack of coordination and sustainable strategy, lack of consultation with the poor, lack of political will, corruption, poor funding, and lack of basic infrastructure.Poor policy formulation and lack of sustainable strategy
Poor policy formulation, lack of coordination and sustainable strategy speaks of an absence of the policy and institutional framework and delivery machinery that could guarantee coordination and effective monitoring. According to Dr Damian Mbaegbu, an Associate Professor in Department of Business Administration and Management at Madonna University in Okija, one of the deficiencies in the poverty reduction strategies adopted by successive governments in Nigeria was that they did it through the doling out of money and the distribution of machinery and equipment to the poor.
"A good number of these poverty reduction policies over the years have failed to adopt strategy of developing local entrepreneurs through entrepreneurial skills and wealth creation processes which increases the purchasing power and demand for goods and services."
Another aspect of poor policy formation is weak monitoring and lack of impact assessment plans.
Other factors which have hindered poverty reduction in Nigeria include absence of collaboration and complementation among the three arms of government, Lack of consultation with the poor, lack of political will, corruption, poor funding and lack of basic infrastructure
Indeed, it is believed that poverty persists in the country because governments have failed to provide basic infrastructure such as good roads, potable water and electricity which would enable the poor to be proactive about improving their own lives by their own efforts.The way forward
The problem of poverty in Nigeria is complex, multidimensional and multifaceted. As such, it needs fresh reflection and rethinking of the strategies that have been formulated to tackle the problem in the past. That Nigeria is still ranked among the poorest nations in the world despite its huge resources and large population is indeed the paradox of poor people in a rich country: a case of "poverty in the midst of plenty."
As the Buhari administration comes forward with its own efforts to reduce poverty in Nigeria and meet the SDGs, experts believe that the way forward is to ensure that the poverty reduction strategies are properly structured to effectively target the poor who are supposed to be the actual beneficiaries. Kpelai Tersoo, a lecturer in the Department of Business Management at Benue State University in Makurdi, advised that the government's strategy for poverty reduction should be anchored on entrepreneurially driven policies that will economically empower the people, reduce poverty and propel economic growth.
He explained that the poor lack the capacity and power to transform their situations and therefore need empowerment after they have been trained and acquired skills to start micro enterprises.
Continuing, he said that sound curricula are required at all levels of the Nigerian educational system which emphasize entrepreneurial education and value orientation. He advised government to adopt a global approach to infrastructural development and to improve access to micro-credit facilities. In addition, government should inculcate an entrepreneurial spirit in Nigerian youths, especially students in tertiary institutions. Through this strategy fresh graduates are more likely to will create job opportunities for themselves instead of looking for jobs after graduation.
Anyakwee Nsirimovu, the Executive Director of the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL) said Nigeria needs strong institutions to fight poverty. He recommended the strengthening of anti-corruption agencies to treat cases of misappropriation of funds meant for poverty reduction programmes, urging that the fight against corruption be intensified because corruption is considered to be a debilitating factor in the fight against poverty.
He said that government should promote good governance, transparency and accountability in conjunction with the relevant agencies. Since President Buhari rode to power on the horse of integrity, holding aloft the banner of accountability and has been an anti-corruption crusader, Nsirimovu expressed hope that his administration would tackle corruption and poverty. According to him, if the current anti-corruption war is sustained and the efforts towards strengthening democracy are allowed to continue, there will be hope that poverty will be reduced.
For Professor Garba Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), the government should set institutional mechanisms which, flowing from different sectors, would address the SDG and achieve a reduction in poverty: "No single programme, institution or sector can guarantee the viability and efficiency of any poverty fighting mechanism."
He stressed the need for Nigeria to take advantage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), new technologies and the revolution in big data to ensure that institutions work together by changing the way and speed of service delivery to ensure that the challenges of hunger and poverty are conquered.