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SERAP urges Buhari to probe spending on social intervention programmes

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to probe and set up a presidential panel of enquiry to investigate the spending of all social safety-net and poverty alleviation programs and projects executed between 2015 and 2022.

SERAP also urged the president to ensure that the findings from the investigation should be widely published, adding that the suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of public funds should face prosecution as appropriate.

The organization in a statement by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, on Saturday stated a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that 133 million Nigerians in poverty despite the government reportedly spending N500 billion yearly on social investment programmes.

Oluwadare noted that the report suggested a grave violation of the public trust, and the lack of political will to genuinely address poverty, and uphold your government’s constitutional and international human rights obligations.

He said; “the report that 133m Nigerians are poor suggests corruption & mismanagement in the spending of trillion of naira on social safety-nets & poverty alleviation programmes, including the reported disbursement of over $700m from the repatriated Abacha looted funds to these programmes.”

SERAP deputy director added that Buhari’s government has legal obligations to effectively and progressively address and combat extreme poverty as a matter of human rights.

He stated that the failure to address the issue of extreme poverty has resulted in high levels of inequality, and serious violations of the economic and social rights of Nigerians, particularly the socially and economically vulnerable sector of the population.

The letter, copied to Olivier DE SCHUTTER, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, read in part: “These grim revelations by NBS show the failure to fulfil 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 the receipt and/or pub­lication of this letter. If we have not heard 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 programmes are clearly not working. It also shows a failure by your government to uphold the constitutionally and inter­nationally guaranteed hu­man rights of the Nigerian people.”
SERAP called upon President Buhari to prioritise investment in quality education and healthcare and to redirect some of the unnecessary spending in the 2023 bud­get such as spending by the presidency on feeding and travels, and money allocated to the National Assembly in the budget to address pover­ty as a human rights issue.

“The Buhari government has a sacred duty to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the country’s resources, including the spending of public funds on social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes and projects.”

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