Caught Napping? NAPEP and Nigeria’s poverty Challenge

Posted: July 18, 2011 in federal, Uncategorized

The National poverty Alleviation Programme (NAPEP) was founded in the year 2000 by the Olusegun Obasanjo regime. This laudable project was introduced as a replacement of previous programs initiated by earlier regimes in the likes of the National Accelerated Food Production Programme, Directorate of Food Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) and Family Economic Advancement Program (FEAP) owing to their inadequacies. It was targeted at the complete eradication of poverty through empowerment of the prevalent group which is mostly the illiterate and rural population.
This was perceived to be a direct contact approach. NAPEP was supposed to be the link between the Federal Government and the poor masses of Nigeria. This programme was mandated to empower the people and reduce poverty rate which according to statistics at the time, out of every 100 Nigerians, 66 were dwelling below the poverty line. according to Magnus Kpakol the National coordinator of NAPEP in a media chat in Enugu in 2009 explained that 50% of Nigerians lived below poverty line- which makes for atleast 70 million Nigerians , thus NAPEP’s establishment; to facilitate provision of the missing link to enable monitoring of all efforts and allowing for the effective complementation and collaboration between all stakeholders.
Lead by Dr. Magnus Kpakol, the Senior Special Assistant to the President and National Coordinator of the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) since 2003. Kpakol had also served as Chief Economic Adviser to the President and Chief Executive of the National Planning Commission, a position to which he was appointed in 1999 when he returned from the United States of America where he had been a professor of Economics, has initiated intervention programmes in partnership with states and local governments across Nigeria in the likes of; the Village Economic Development Solution (VEDS) programme which is supposed to ensure that Nigerian villages become centres of economic activities through the establishment of economic anchor projects, the In care of the People (COPE) programme, a conditional cash transfer programme intended for the poor in the rural communities. The COPE programme is supposed cover all the 36 states of Nigeria including the FCT. Also put in place is the KEKE NAPEP scheme, which is supposed to offer tricycles to operators at subsidized rates with soft payment plans among other brilliant projects.
Unfortunately, like the previous schemes before it, NAPEP is not without its short comings which have drawn much criticism from among Nigerians, mostly negative remarks.
This noble venture meant to alleviate the suffering of the masses has been immersed in one scandal or the other, from diversion of funds and abuse of office, to lack of funds management. A situation which has constantly put them in the part of coercion with the National Assembly and the media who have always reminded them of their loss of focus or otherwise. Most recently were the issues of diversion of funds totalling N7.265 billion to private banks, the N417 million unremitted funds being balance after supply of KEKE NAPEP to beneficiaries, and the misallocation of tricycles.
In a recent appearance before the committee on National Planning, Economic Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, upon which this article will base its analysis and conclusion, it was discovered by the Senator Zaynab Kure led committee that NAPEP among many anomalies; lacked proper monitoring and evaluation of projects, diverted funds. The report made available in part by Daily Trust of Friday, 15 January 2010 outlines the following:
“Breach of memorandum of understanding (MoU) and operational guidelines by NAPEP and some micro finance banks: Every NAPEP programme has guidelines on how it is to be run.
“However, findings revealed these terms and conditions and operational guidelines were mostly observed in breach”.
Abuse of office by NAPEP officials: It was discovered in some states that NAPEP officials used their influence to approve for themselves directly or through their cronies amounts which they used with no intention to repay.
Diversion of funds: It is established that cases of funds approved for certain beneficiaries were diverted to different beneficiaries thus making it impossible for such funds to be recovered.
Partial release of funds to beneficiaries: Our investigation revealed that there were number of instances whereby monies approved for certain projects were partially given to beneficiaries. In some cases, some state NAPEP officials released part of the approved monies to their contractors to undertake projects on behalf of beneficiaries, thereby surcharging the actual beneficiaries.
Patronages: It is noted that in most states, NAPEP funds were used for politicking as the monies were given out as succour to loyal party members with no plans for recovery. It was a clear case of politicized micro-financing.
Lack of proper ‘monitoring and evaluation by NAPEP: From the investigations, it is established that despite the sum of N1.850bn provided between 2006 and 2008 on monitoring and evaluation, this aspect of the programme was very weak and ineffective. Most of the anomalies identified in various states of the federation were as a result of the nonchallant attitude of the Monitoring Unit of NAPEP at the national and state levels.
Misapplication of funds by benefitting cooperative societies: This refers to scenario where multi-purpose cooperative societies (MPCS) were given loans to undertake a particular business but used the money for other things outside earlier proposal submitted to NAPEP, thus endangering the repayment.
Unfit micro finance institutions engaged in loan disbursement: In many instances, incompetent, unqualified and even unregistered micro finance institutions (MFI) were engaged by NAPEP in the disbursement of funds to beneficiaries; in other cases, the micro finance institutions absconded with money. In another direction, some of the micro finance institutions became distressed with huge amount of NAPEP funds trapped.
Faceless names and fake addresses: In this case, it is established that NAPEP in their submissions to the committee provided fake names and unverifiable addresses. These anomalies are most noticeable in the Capacity Acquisition Programme (CAP) and Mandatory Attachment Programme (MAP).
NAPEP funds management: The committee established that relationships between NAPEP and two banks were skewed in favour of the banks. It is observed that the funds meant for Village Economic Development Solution (VEDS) and COPE programmes – N5bn and N2.265bn respectively were managed to the disadvantage of NAPEP and poor Nigerians.
The banks in collaboration with NAPEP officials left the fund idle in various accounts with no interest paid by the banks. It is equally established, a situation where one of the banks charged commission on turnover (COT) on NAPEP (government) accounts against the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria”.
The Zaynab Kure-led committee also recommended thus:
“That where codified guidelines were circumvented, the erring officers should be sanctioned appropriately, while those that adhered to the guidelines be commended; that the erring officers should be sanctioned and the monies recovered; that benefitting cooperative societies should be made to pay back monies and appropriate sanctions be meted to defaulting societies; that the concerned staff should be identified and sanctioned appropriately for engaging unqualified and unregistered micro finance institutions; that reasons for withdrawing funds be identified and appropriate sanctions be meted to erring microfinance institutions and staff alike; all the NAPEP officials involved be sanctioned appropriately; that the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit of NAPEP be overhauled and given the necessary impetus to function; that for maximum benefits to the populace, politicising the programme be reduced to the barest minimum or stopped; that the management of NAPEP should be held responsible for all the lapses and the contractor should be made to deliver the remaining Keke-NAPEP immediately; that the banks concerned should be made to account for all the monies that accrued and their regulatory agencies be notified to sanction the banks appropriately, and that there is need to restructure NAPEP into a commission or agency through an Act of National Assembly”
Judging from the foregone analysis of the mandate vested on NAPEP and the report of the investigation along with the suggested darning steps by the National Assembly, it will only be apt to ask NAPEP to wake up to her responsibility as it is proven that 83% percent of the rural population are still eking out a survival from peasant farming, living in abject poverty- a situation for which this organization was established to avert. It ought to concentrate honestly on this target population and pay less attention to the urban areas and FCT, where the high and mighty are beneficiaries.
The National Assembly on her own part should enact an enabling law in order to make NAPEP much more accountable and aware of her responsibility as it was created by a mere executive fiat without a legal backing.
As already postulated by the Senator Zaynab committee, enquiries should be made so that erring officials of the organization be held responsible and punished accordingly as deterrent to others.

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