In the eve of electioneering campaign that heralded the victory of the All Progressives Party (APC) in the last election, the party had promised to pay Five Thousand Naira (N5000.00) social security as stipends for the poor and unemployed Nigerians to alleviate their poverty and cushioning the effect of the bad policies of the former government which instead of raising their living standard only added to their sorry state. APC, through its then vice presidential candidate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo further promised that if they were voted into power, such payment will commence within their first one hundred days (100 days) in office. Few days ago, the Vice President reinstated his commitment to the project at the 10th year anniversary lecture of Crescent University, Abeokuta that the promise was not campaign strategy but a reality which will soon manifest.
I always strive to be positive but I have struggled continually to agree on its affordability and sustainability. Political parties promised heaven on earth during campaign but failure to fulfil promises have been one of the notable hallmarks of politicians. In my own suggestion; this scheme should belong to one of those promises that might never be fulfilled by this administration. Social security scheme is a tool used by governments in advanced countries including United Kingdom and United State of America to help their struggling citizens most especially the unemployed and people living with disabilities. The scheme was successful in these countries due to reliable national database.
A major setback for this country is unreliable database. Nigeria has estimated population of more than 180million, more than half of this estimated figure will account for the prospective beneficiary of the proposed scheme. Therefore about 100million would be participants will be collecting N5000.00 each which amounted to N500billion monthly. I want to ask, Your Excellency, what are the criteria for selection of the intending beneficiaries? How will be the mechanism to channel the programme and what will be the source of this fund? Ekiti State under Governor Kayode Fayemi and Osun State of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola introduced similar scheme in their respective states, have we examined its success? What about the institutional and legal framework to support the programme?
Social Security is not a dole or a device for giving everybody something for nothing. True Social Security must consist of rights which are earned rights and guaranteed by the law of the land. It is a monument to the spirit of compassion and commitment that can unites us as a people. Presently, the advanced economies countries like United Kingdom and United States of America who operates social scheme are trying to streamline its efforts due to the prevailing economic pressure. Ironically, the present administration is about to start the scheme not minding the recurrent expenditure it will bring on the system. Social welfare is not a panacea for massive industrialisation, agricultural development, mining improvement, retail market development and repositioning of institutions like NIPOST which will create the needed jobs towards poverty alleviation.
The survival of the project will depends on its fairness to the general masses without political colouration, sincerity of the beneficiaries by avoiding ghosting candidacy, cooperation of state and local governments to aid its implementation, taming of party strongmen who might want to selfishly manipulate the process etc. Based on the earlier statistics, it is pretty sure that there are several hurdles to cross. Federal government should as a matter of urgency reassess this scheme till it can boast of adequate and reliable database and uninterrupted source of income. Though INEC voters’ registers and National Identity Card can proof me wrong but they must be crosschecked to avoid a preventable disaster.