The World Bank’s Nigeria Development Update for June 2023 reveals that over 42.69 million poor Nigerians have been excluded from the Federal Government’s N5,000 monthly cash transfer program since its inception in 2016. Only 19.4 percent of the population has benefited from the program, leaving a significant portion of the vulnerable population without assistance.
The report highlights that about 40 percent of Nigerians, equivalent to 82.9 million people, live below the national poverty line, and an additional 52.6 million individuals are economically insecure, at high risk of falling into poverty.
Despite the urgent need for assistance, the government’s spending on social safety nets remains inadequate. In 2021, Nigeria spent only 0.7 percent of its GDP on social safety nets, significantly lower than the global and regional averages.
Experts and the World Bank emphasize the importance of expanding the social safety net’s coverage and increasing transparency to ensure that genuine beneficiaries receive support. Establishing a new social compact with Nigerians, especially during the phasing out of the petrol subsidy, is suggested to minimize negative impacts and build public support for the program.
The World Bank’s report sheds light on the pressing issue of poverty in Nigeria and the gaps in the government’s social safety net programs. It is disheartening to see that millions of vulnerable Nigerians are excluded from receiving much-needed assistance, leaving them at greater risk of falling deeper into poverty.
To address this issue, it is crucial for the government to prioritize transparency and openness in its social safety net initiatives. Creating a comprehensive and accessible database that allows public scrutiny will help ensure that genuine beneficiaries are identified and reach the program’s benefits. Additionally, increasing the coverage of the cash transfer program will help lift more Nigerians out of poverty and provide a crucial safety net during difficult times.