POVERTY IN THE MIDST OF PLENTY: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE ECONOMIC REFORM PROGRAMMES OF THE OBASAN3O ADMINISTRATION 1999-2007

Author: Uyaemezina Obinna Nnamdi
Department: History and International Studies
Affiliation: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka

The alarming rate of poverty in Nigeria constrained successive Administrations, since the Murtala/Obasanjo regime to introduce one economic, political and even social reform programme or the other. This was perhaps based on the fact that poverty and underdevelopment in Nigeria which appear disturbing given Nigeria’s huge earnings from oil and gas can only be tackled through an economic reform policy? In 2003, during his second term in office, President Olusegun Obasanjo launched an ambitious programme called the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS). The NEEDS policy was Obasanjo’s bold attempt to improve the economic and social well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians. Specifically, it emphasised the privatization of public enterprises, reforming the civil service to make it productive and efficient through packages such as monetization, National Health insurance scheme and a contributory pension scheme. Other aspects included deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry, banking sector reforms which sought to improve the capital base of the commercial banks and introduction of microfinance banks. The reform also attempted to enthrone due process and price monitoring in the award of government contracts while empowering the private sector to champion economic development through industrialization and wealth creation. In the present study, attempt has been made by the researcher to examine the underlying principles and practices of the Obasanjo reform package. In attempting to examine the reform programme, the researcher goes back in time to capture the fundamental principles of the reform programmes of the earlier periods in Nigeria. In each reform programme, the aim was/is of eradication of poverty in the land. The study attempted to assess the impact and the result of these reform programmes.

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