Communication and Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria: The Last Twenty Years and the Next Decade

By Gambo, Danjuma | Journal of Development Communication, June 2011 | Go to article overview

Communication and Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria: The Last Twenty Years and the Next Decade


Gambo, Danjuma, Journal of Development Communication


The vision of the Nigerian government to make the country one of twenty most industrial economies in the world by 2020 (Vision 20-2020) is fast becoming more distant, unrealistic and unattainable despite the huge claims of success by the government of Yar'adua with its SevennPoint Agenda. Given the stupendous oil money and human resources (more than 150 million people) at its disposal, the nation would, for long, have become one of the highest flying nations in world affair. It would also have succeeded in building and sustaining virile political, economic and social institutions to support its development efforts. The Mid point Assessment of Nigeria's Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (2000) indicates that although substantial "impressive progress" has been made in meeting the targets of the self-imposed National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy NEEDS1 (2004-2007), economic growth has averaged six percent per annum since 2000; inflation has declined from double to single digits and internal reserves have risen to about USD 64 billion in June 2008. However, as the report indicates, this improvement in the macro economic environment has not translated into improved quality of life with poverty levels at 54.4 percent.

Although the proportion of the population living in relative poverty was expected to have fallen to 28.78 percent in 2007, among every ten Nigerians, five were still living in 2007. Also, unemployment in the country rose from about 12 out of 100 working age people in 1999 to 18 in 2005 with the rate of youth unemployment rising in urban than in rural areas (FGN, 2008).

Although the rising poverty levels in Nigeria started from 1986 with the introduction of the IMF-inspired Structural Adjustment Programme (S.A.P.), the countryfs return to civil rule in 1999 had raised hope among the people that more people--centered policies and programmes would be vigorously implemented, responses of, especially, the Obasanjo (1999-2007) and Yarfadua (2007--date) administrations have not made any significant impact on Nigerians. Even the contributions of International Development Partners such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) and others have not yielded any significant, sustainable results.

One common feature of all Nigeria's development programmes since independence is their dependence on the delivery of what is regarded by policy makers as timely and appropriate information to the people. That explains why all the programmes have communication or media components to support their activities. Politicians and policy makers tend to assume that people's participation (essential in every development programme) in the planning and implementation is central to the success/sustainability of all projects and programmes. It is further assumed that the most effective way to ensure such participation is to get people well informed about the objectives of the programmes, the roles and responsibilities of the people and what they stand to benefit.

Consequently, the nation's communication resources are mobilised and deployed in support of the National Poverty Eradication programme (NAPEP) which consists of all relevant programmes and projects that are aimed at eradicating absolute poverty among Nigerians. These include programmes on food, shelter, employment, health care, water supply, transportation, education, gender development, recreation, etc. Another framework, which is also supported by communication, is the Seven-Point Agenda of the Yar'adua Government. The agenda focuses on power and energy, food security, wealth creation, human capital development, land reform, mass transit and security (Akosile, 2007). Following an appraisal of Federal and State level interventions and the communication strategies and resources deployed in implementing them (especially the use of workshops and seminars to re-engineer the public and private sectors), the paper argues, among others, that the ever-escalating poverty in the country is not due to lack of information, knowledge or good planning among its leaders and ordinary citizens. …

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