Handouts for the poorest Nigerians

Vice President Prof Osinbajo, recently revealed the government is working on one of the election campaign promises of giving out ₦5k monthly stipend for the poorest Nigerians, currently estimated to be 25M people.

The first time I saw this on a billboard, I actually thought that was a joke taken too far – guess I was wrong.

Who are the Nigerian poorest?

According to Dr Yemi Kale, the Nigeria Statistician General, in 2010 poverty rate in Nigeria were north-east 76.3%, north-west 77.6% and southwest is 59.1%.

In general, Sokoto state has the highest poverty rate in the country at 86.4%. Sokoto is in the northwest with estimated population of 4.5M people.

Presently in many northern cities, there’s news about people gathering in government houses for cash handouts – honourable in religious sense, I suppose. Another example is mass-marriage for the divorced sponsored by the Kano state government a few years ago.

In 2014 UNICEF handing out ₦20k per/year for up to 23,000 girls between age six and 15 years old in Sokoto and Niger to buy text books and other incentives to go to school. Mothers received ₦5000 – this program is scheduled to run through this year too.

So folks in the north are already used to get minimum cash handouts from their public officials and yet no improvement to standard of living.

Who are the 25M poor Nigerians that will benefit from this monthly stipend?

If we are talking about abject poverty, beneficiaries from this program are likely to the northern folks which is absolutely fantastic as the world is better for all when resources go round.

From what we’ve learnt government officials in the north will prefer to give handouts rather than spend the allocation for intended purposes, partly for religious or cultural reasons.

So how would this new stipend be any different when the same set of people especially those in the cities are already used to free cash.

Can we approach eradication of poverty differently this time?

– For example use this fund to build classrooms especially in the remote areas with adequate teaching resources?

– Perhaps healthcare for Vagina Fistula corrections to give decent lives to the victims of child marriage rather than leaving this role for foreign aid to foot the bill?

– Sponsor skill acquisition programs for the poorest?

Given our unique situation in Nigeria – I don’t think ‘one hat fits all solution’ is the best.

Many people in the south are poor, no doubt about that. The main reason many generations remain poor in the south is due to lack of quality education, most of those that are affected are in our small towns and villages. Basic quality education is luxury for many people.

– Using this fund to resuscitate our dying schools in the rural areas, repair our roads and help with safe drinking water will be the first thing to do rather than cash in hand.

22 thoughts on “Handouts for the poorest Nigerians

  1. What is it they say? “Give a man a fish and you can feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and he can feed himself for life!” Similar to this cash hand-out thing, handing out cash is subject to the whims of the donors (which is a bad thing). Who is to say how much will be skimmed off in the process? What has the APC learned from similar schemes?
    Why not focus on building reliable utilities, like electricity, water, healthcare and education like you said. These will have longer lasting affects, why is everything in Nigeria only ever done with an eye for tomorrow and nothing for the future? Where will all this aid end? Why don’t people question things? What can be done this time to improve the situation that wasn’t done before to get a better outcome? Why are so many people so poor in the northern states? What are the state governments doing? Without questions there will be no answers and so Nigeria falls further and further behind….
    FK, thank you for raising questions on the effectiveness of this scheme.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks jco –

      There is a disconnection between the people and the state, so when officials see the ‘little’ people they assume all they needed was to be fed and reproduced – that answers your question about what the state govt have been doing – sad.

      I think many people are asking questions only that nobody is listening. If APC went ahead with this plan, it shows nothing has been learned and it is a shame.


      1. FK thank you for the answer.
        With such high poverty rates in Sokoto and elsewhere it essentially says if you are not involved in any form of government you are effectively doomed!!! This smacks of terrible management.
        The other question with this approach is how sustainable is it? Considering the nation is already indebted, how can this help? Where is the wisdom?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, hand outs will only help temporarily, not in the value added way. Long term, reliance on the govt will increase.

          In the south I can see my overly religious folks taking 10% to their pastors – so in a few years, we are back to Square one.


          1. I saw this video clip about Sokoto (city), it looked absolutely disgusting.
            I’ve not been to the place, but I was merely going by the stats you published and from what I can see, I can say I was correct. These handouts, will not go anyway to addressing the decay of society there. I believe more problems will emanate from that region, as grinding poverty is everywhere and the leadership is bankrupt and no one is coming forth with sensible, sustainable ideas. Below is the clip

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thanks for the clip.

              I think that is what we all need to see to realise handouts is not the way out…

              On my recent trip home, I saw these women about a dozen of them sat in a row in front of a popular open market – all with one or two toddlers each, partly blind and begging for alms. I was told they are from Sokoto, they followed pepper truck to the south.

              How long can we be in denial for? I bet these women can benefit from family planning Ed and learn skills to live a more dignified life.


              1. You could have incorporated that account into this topic, but in all seriousness I don’t think denial is the villain here, people are simply turning a blind-eye to the problem.
                What you suggested is absolutely correct, but like many other things in Nigeria it is not straight-forward. As the video highlighted the problem is not simply external factors stacked against them, but their own mental conditioning, they have been conditioned to be passive and take whatever is tossed their way, their cultural and religious programming have rendered them to the state that you see now. This is not to say that it is impossible, but it will be very involved and that is just for that handful of people, you then have to tackle the problem at source.
                You mentioned the trickle of migrants from that region, even in Europe the holiday resorts of Greece and Malta are now no longer desirable as waves of migrants are turning up and wandering around on beeches that are set aside for tourists to sunbathe and this is damaging business. Governments here are talking of increasing aid to stem the tide, but the problem is gargantuan.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Agree on mental conditioning. Hopefully with solid plan that cut across political parties, positive change will emerge.

                  The ongoing issues with migrants to Europe is something else – very sad to say the least. Who can blame the UK govt for taking drastic action to curb Nigerians entering legally or otherwise – given what’s in the open about lawmakers lifestyle and abusive of power bestowed on them.

                  Our headache to solve, others can only help.


                  1. Has Nigeria ever had a solid plan that cuts across political parties? I doubt it, one might have one, the others given their turn will cancel it. There must be more consensus to achieve basic minimum goals.

                    I came across this clip, it speaks of the value of education from Sokoto’s brightest sons, Jelani Aliyu an international automobile engineer. This like you said is what is needed to provide hope for the future to the children that state. This just shows the potential that lies in the people.

                    FK, kudos for realising the where the responsibility lies. You’re on the ball, respect to you.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. That guy is brilliant isn’t he?

                      This is where our leaders are missing the point, for every Jelani that managed to escape the jungle, there are millions untapped potentials because they have never being given a slightest chance.


                    2. Hopefully your efforts in Osun, will ripple throughout Nigeria, so that even Sokoto and similar states, others will be positively impacted. The economist video said that only 25% of kids are sent to school in Sokoto, due to the cost of education (so why not make it free).

                      Agreed, Jelani is a shining example.

                      You talked about the mistake made in the Western Region whereby a lot of emphasis was placed on a few students to go overseas to study, and the rest are relatively neglected. This has been corrected, so that the Northern region should not make a similar mistake, but make education available to the masses. Those that are exceptionally gifted can be funded by philanthropists such as Alhaji Dangote et al to study abroad. This will leave the state governments to use its money more prudently.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. Ha, jco – the obsession with study abroad affects all of our regions – only last year Kano governor sent 531 students to study abroad including in Uganda! We have issues 🙂

                      State govt compete on this – little wonder nothing is left for the masses.

                      Here’s one: Plenty more of such including my state…



                      Yes, exceptionally bright ones should be supported – that is not what we have on ground.


                    4. I see you are really quizzing your governor. The example you provided about how local resources could better be used as opposed to sending 85 students to Ukraine – is a very good one.
                      Has your approach yielded any fruit? This is a start at least, governors can no longer take it for granted that the state coffers can be spent without being held to account. Is it really the best value for money? That is a slogan if applied across Nigeria could result in a massive change. At least you have provided the spark.
                      Please can I/we have a translation for this “omo eni o gbon, a ni o ma ku, kini o pa bi o se aigbon e?” – Child ….
                      Thank you.

                      Liked by 1 person

                2. Approach yielded any fruit? – Not really, I don’t think so. Most of our outrageous schemes are already executed before getting to public knowledge.

                  The same mistake will repeat itself as we are too scared to criticise for the fear of being seeing as betrayer…

                  “omo eni o gbon, a ni o ma ku, kini o pa bi o se aigbon e?” – Uhmn to paraphrase it means “an ignorant child would die of his ignorance” – translation seems to erode the meaning a bit.


                  1. – Sorry it was 98 students sent to Ukraine to study medicine, (not the 85 I mentioned earlier).
                    – Thank you for providing the translation.
                    – One can’t accuse you of getting carried away with yourself, you really do have your ear to the ground. Nevermind, what I’ve learned in life is that there are unintended consequences, so you might think you are not having much if any impact, but I choose to believe you are a pioneer.

                    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think if they do this it will be to fulfill the social welfare aspect of APC’s manifesto.

    Nigeria has bigger problems, and distribution of that money will be another mess. Skill acquisition and/or rural SME funding is probably more sustainable and easier to monitor.

    Liked by 1 person

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