Nigeria

SERAP asks Nigeria’s president to investigate social intervention programmes

SERAP also recommended that the president, Muhammadu Buhari, ensure that the investigation's findings would be widely published and that those responsible for corruption or mismanagement of public funds would be brought to justice.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the government of Nigeria to investigate the funding of all social safety-net and poverty alleviation programs and projects carried out between 2015 and 2022 by establishing a presidential panel of enquiry.

SERAP also recommended that the president, Muhammadu Buhari, ensure that the investigation’s findings would be widely published and that those responsible for corruption or mismanagement of public funds would be brought to justice.

On Saturday, the organization’s deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare released a statement in which he cited a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) claiming that 133 million Nigerians live in poverty despite the government reportedly spending N500 billion annually on social investment programs.

Oluwadare stated that the report indicated a severe breach of public trust and a lack of political will to effectively address poverty and uphold your government’s constitutional and international human rights obligations.

The fact that 133 million Nigerians are poor, he said, “suggests corruption and mismanagement in the spending of trillions of naira on social safety nets and poverty alleviation programs, including the reported disbursement of over $700m from the repatriated Abacha looted funds to these programs.”

As a matter of human rights, extreme poverty is a problem that the Buhari administration must address and fight aggressively, as the SERAP deputy director pointed out.

According to him, Nigerians, especially the most economically and socially vulnerable segment of the population, have had their economic and social rights severely violated due to the failure to address the issue of extreme poverty.

Part of the letter that was sent to the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Olivier DE SCHUTTER, read: “These grim revelations by NBS show the failure to fulfill his oft-repeated promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty,& that no one will be left behind.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of this letter’s receipt and/or publication. If we have yet to hear from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.

“The report also shows that the purported social safety nets and poverty alleviation programs are not working. It also shows a failure by your government to uphold the constitutionally and internationally guaranteed human rights of the Nigerian people.”

SERAP urged President Buhari to reallocate funds from wasteful areas of the 2023 budget, such as the presidency’s spending on food and travel, or from the National Assembly’s budget to address poverty as a human rights issue.

Transparency and accountability in using public funds for social safety nets and poverty alleviation programs and projects are sacred responsibilities of the Buhari administration.