Alleviation or Politicization of Poverty in Africa? A Critique of Nigeria’s Social Investments Programs under Buhari-led Administration, 2015-2020

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Anthony Chinedu Ugwu
Dr. Al Chukwuma Okoli


The study interrogates the politics of poverty alleviation amidst the prevalence of poverty in Africa, focusing on Nigeria. Nigeria currently ranks among the poor countries in the world. While many studies have examined aspects of poverty mitigation within the national development frameworks, the politics underlying such endeavors have been under-explored. This study narrows this gap by investigating how politicians bastardize social investment programs through tokenish material 'hand-outs' designed to serve immediate political ends. The study is based on textual and contextual analysis of secondary sources, as complemented by corroborated anecdotes. Appropriating Marxian production theory, the study posits that the prevalence of poverty in Africa has been occasioned by macro and micro-level politics. At the macro-level, the balance of trade cum balance of payment asymmetries has reproduced conditions that perpetuate dependency and underdevelopment in the developing countries in general and Nigeria in particular. At the micro-level, local politicians trivialize social investments by exploiting the poverty situation of the populace for electoral gains through ad hoc material 'hand-outs.' This has weakened the social investment policy environment and alienated the citizenry in decision-making concerning wealth creation, distribution, and social investments priorities. The study recommends mainstreaming social investment governance into national development programing for sustainability.


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Anthony Chinedu Ugwu, & Dr. Al Chukwuma Okoli. (2021). Alleviation or Politicization of Poverty in Africa? A Critique of Nigeria’s Social Investments Programs under Buhari-led Administration, 2015-2020. PanAfrican Journal of Governance and Development (PJGD), 2(2), 206-231.
Author Biographies

Anthony Chinedu Ugwu, Federal University of Lafia, Nigeria.

Dr. Anthony Chinedu Ugwu is a Lecturer at the Department of Political Science, Federal University of Lafia, Nigeria. He is a member of the Nigeria Political Science Association (NPSA), an executive member of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and an executive member of the Nigerian Association of Evaluators (NAE).  

Dr. Al Chukwuma Okoli, Federal University of Lafia, Nigeria.

Dr. Al Chukwuma Okoli (B.Sc., M.Sc., Political Science), holds a Ph.D. in Defence and Strategic Studies from Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). He is a Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the Federal University of Lafia, Nigeria. Dr. Okoli’s core research interest revolves around Security Studies. He has consulted for UN Women, The Conversation Africa, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) Abuja, Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Jaji-Nigeria, and National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). He is a member of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). He is also a double laureate of CODESRIA’s Institutes (Gender 2018, Higher Education, 2019) and a research fellow of IFRA-Nigeria. Dr. Okoli has published in reputable academic journals, including Small Wars and Insurgencies (Routledge), African Security Review (Routledge), African Journal on Conflict Resolution (ACCORD, South Africa), Africa Development (CODESRIA), and Security Journal (Springer).


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