N500bn Spent Yearly On Poverty, 133m Nigerians Poor- SERAP Writes Buhari

The Social, Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) have written to President Muhammadu Buhari, to explain why NN500 billion is spent annually on poverty alleviation programmes, yet 133 million Nigerians live in poverty.

newsonline Reports that SERAP is demanding an investigation into the use of N500 billion and $700 million worth of Abacha repatriated loot.

In a statement on Monday, SERAP requested President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently establish a presidential commission of inquiry to conduct a thorough, impartial, effective and transparent investigation into spending on all social safety nets, poverty alleviation programs and projects implemented between 2015 and 2022.

“We have also urged him to ensure that the results of any such investigation are widely publicized. Suspected perpetrators of crimes of corruption and mismanagement of public funds aimed at the welfare of the poor should face prosecution as appropriate if there is sufficient evidence. Any theft from the public should refund.

“A recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) makes the damning findings that some 133 million Nigerians are poor, despite reports that the government spends N500 billion annually on ‘social investment programmes.’ Half of the poor in the country are children.

The report notes a serious breach of public trust, a lack of political will to genuinely address poverty, and uphold your government’s constitutional and international human rights obligations.

“The report that 133 million Nigerians are poor points to corruption and mismanagement in spending trillions of naira on social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes, including the reported disbursement of more than $700 million in Abacha funds that were returned to these programs.

“The Buhari government has legal obligations to effectively and progressively address and combat extreme poverty as a matter of human rights.

“The failure to address extreme poverty has led to high levels of inequality and serious violations of the economic and social rights of Nigerians, particularly the socially and economically vulnerable segment of the population.

The letter, which was transcribed to Mr. Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, read in part: “These shocking revelations by NBS show the failure to live up to his repeated promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.” No one will be left behind.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures were taken within 7 days of receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not received any response from him by then, SERAP will take all appropriate legal measures to compel his government to comply with our request in the public interest.

The report also shows that so-called social safety nets and poverty alleviation programs are clearly not working. It also shows his government’s failure to uphold the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed human rights of the Nigerian people.

“We also urge him to prioritize investment in quality education and health care and redirect some of the non-essential spending in the 2023 budget such as spending by the presidency on nutrition, travel and funds for NASS in the budget to address poverty as a human rights issue.

The Supplementary Appropriation Bill, reflecting the proposed redirected budget, must be urgently sent to the National Assembly for approval.

“The Buhari government has a sacred duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the expenditure of the country’s resources, including the expenditure of public funds on social safety nets and poverty alleviation programs and projects.

“Allegations of corruption in social safety nets and poverty alleviation programs pose direct and indirect threats to human rights, and contribute to extreme poverty in the country. Nigerians have a right to be free from poverty.

“Extreme poverty is the greatest denial of the exercise of human rights, as it denies millions of Nigerians not only their economic and social rights, but also civil and political rights such as the right to life, human dignity and political participation.

Political freedom and participation are closely linked to human development. Without economic and social rights, people cannot actually enjoy their political freedom.”