Just about two weeks ago, Brookings Institution reported that Nigeria has overtaken India as the poverty capital of the world with the highest number of extremely impoverished people on earth.
According to the damning report, about six Nigerians join the extreme poverty category every minute of the day.
It would seem, perhaps, that on the basis of that alarm that the government deemed it fit to deploy the $322 million (about N116 billion) recovered Abacha loot to bridge the poverty gap in the country.
The Federal Government’s move to checkmate the scourge appears to be receiving harsh criticisms from a wide spectrum of Nigerians who fear the Muhammadu Buhari administration may be embarking on another wild goose chase as it has so often done in the past.
Why we prefer cash handouts …Buhari
But President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday gave reasons why he preferred giving cash handouts to the poor. Reacting to criticisms against conditional cash transfer, the president said the Federal Government signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the World Bank and Switzerland to lift people out of poverty using the recovered loot.
Speaking at the inception of a meeting of the Mantra project on asset recovery and development in Nigeria by Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), in collaboration with World Bank and Switzerland government, the President, who was represented at the occasion by his Special Adviser on Justice Sector Reforms, Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, said the choice of investing the recovered loot in the social investment programme as captured in the MoU was taken to address the problem of extreme poverty and create social equality among Nigerians.
The president said the administration is committed in partnering with both local and international partners to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the recovered loots.
‘The use of the funds to be applied to social investments, particularly to targeted cash transfer, is to lift people out of poverty. We know people who are today in this country that wake up in the morning and don’t even know where to get their meal from. I’m sure you’ve experienced such people within your communities, so this whole project is to address that problem to create social equality, to provide opportunity.