Establishment of sustainable system for SP-CT in a Nigeria: Sub National: An Excerpt of a Political Economy Analysis

One of the 36 states in Nigeria, Edo State occupies 19,187.7 sq km of land area with a population density of about 168 persons per square kilometer. Home to a population of over 4 million people (NBS, 2016), Edo state comprises of four major ethnic groups; namely Edo (Binis), Esan, Owan and Etsako. However, the State is known to have a high presence of residents from across the country because of its cosmopolitan tendencies. Benin City, the capital, has a history of being one of the foremost destinations of Europeans during their exploration of the African continent many centuries ago. Virtually all ethnic groups in the state trace their origin to Benin City hence the dialects of the groups vary with their distance from Benin City. The Bini speaking people who occupy seven out of the 18 Local Government Areas of the state constitute 57.54% while others Esan (17.14%) Afemai comprising of Etsako (12.19%), Owan (7.43%), and Akoko Edo (5.70%) (Website, 2018). 

Historically, Edo State was created from the Mid-Western Region division of Nigeria and from 1976 became known as Bendel state. It was formed in June 1963 from Benin and Delta provinces of the Western Region. It was renamed a province in 1966, and in 1967 when the other provinces were split up into several states, it remained territorially intact, becoming a state. 

Politically, after a spate of volatile elections in 2017, Edo State’s then Executive Governor Chief Lucky Igbinedion (1999-2007) handed over the reins of leadership to Prof Osunbor. His reign was overturned by the Supreme Court of Nigeria and saw the ascension of Comrade Adams Oshiomole. Adams Oshiomole served two terms of eight years and by November 2016, the current Executive Governor Godwin Obaseki was elected. 

The political pattern and behaviour transcends democratic institutions and witnesses the influence of both the monarchical and democratic institutions in an integrative manner. 

State specific context to social protection and cash transfer programmes Labelled as the ‘Heartbeat of Nigeria, Edo State is one of the top ten contributors to Nigeria’s GDP, ranking 7th of the 36 States and making a contribution of up to US$11,888. (NBS, 2016) Its income poverty rates, although reportedly not as high as in other states, ranks 16th out of 36 states of the federation with a dollar per day based on the adjusted purchasing power parity (PPP) Poor of 66%. This means that over 2 million people are categorized as poor within the state. In this State, poverty and social vulnerabilities indicators are influenced by culture, gender and a consequence of which, has arguably, led to an assumed notoriety for human trafficking, particularly for sexual exploitation. 

As a result of this negative label, a number of international organizations and non-governmental organizations have intervened to combat not only the sex trafficking in the region but also giving social protection programmes and related programs have center stage as a solution to sex trafficking and poverty. 

Media reports indicate that the Edo State Government’s Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Development as well as the Ministry of Budgets is working in partnership with international institutions such as the International Organization for Migration, the European Union, non-governmental organisations to set up social welfare programmes that are to receive and integrate victims of human trafficking and illegal migration who are indigenes of the state. (The Vanguard Newspaper, 2017) Edo State is not currently one of the 16 benefiting states of the Federal Government’s Cash Transfer Programme (Dipo, 2017), however, it has undertaken programmes aimed at addressing trafficking and enhancing social welfare. With regards to trafficking, the Edo State government has established task forces to oversee development programmes that have placed victims on monthly stipends for a designated period of time. 

Social protection programmes in the State also adopts model that targets the feminization of poverty a project championed by the First Lady’s Betsy Obaseki’s Edo Women of Agriculture and Enterprise (EWAE) (Edo State Government Official Website, 2017) which is being rolled out in collaboration with the Bank of Industry, NGOs and private sector players. Reports show that beneficiaries engage in life skills, savings and business development trainings sessions that are intended to create sustainable livelihoods at the end of the programme. 

Analysis of desk review finding 

As with most Nigerian States, Edo State’s economic and fiscal policy is heavily dependent on federal allocation. The state has designed a model for socio economic revolution that is perceived to have been founded on agriculture and industrialization as strong pillars that is expected to cut through rural and economic development and job creation to revenue generation. The intention is to enable wealth generation and enterprise development such that beneficiaries key into agricultural value chains. The vision is expected to create over 150,000 jobs within the next four years and enable the growth of support over 20,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and over 50,000 associated jobs in the next four years through access to low interest financing. (Okhiria, 2017) However, the existing poverty index is a grounding factor to the realization of this vision. Edo State’s has witnessed some economic growth 2.7% per annum (NBS, 2014) even though it continues to battle growing poverty indices from 44.3% in 2004 to 66% in 2016 and a burgeoning unemployment rate of 32% (NBS, 2016). The Obaseki administration acknowledges this as the reason why the state, in addition to infrastructural development, prioritizes job creation and the enhancement of social welfare and sustainable environmental projects (Newspaper, April 2018) 

The state’s 2018 N150 billion budget has grown by 15% above the 2017 budget of N127.921 billion (Budgit, 2018). However, social welfare is not firmly mirrored in the state fiscal policy. For example, of its 4 primary sectors, the Edo State Government’s 2018 budget prioritizes the economic sector which received the highest share of 62.56% of the total capital expenditure. On the other hand, the Social Sector which houses major players for the social welfare programs received 27.02% of the total budget the second highest priority. Within the Social Sector budget, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, a vehicle for social protection programmes particularly for women, receives less than 1% (0.71%) of the Sector budget – an indication of low priority or alternative programmes resourcing from international development partners, for instance. 

Edo State’s approach to social development tends to be strongly biased towards the youths particularly those caught up in the ugly web of human trafficking to Europe. The social problem in the state cannot be resolved with social intervention that uses only a youth-lens to design and implement. The problem is deep-rooted and situated within family livelihoods as poverty affects persons of all age categories particularly women, children and the aged. Designing an intervention programme with only youths (real and potential trafficking victims) is unlikely to address social protection concerns in the state. 

The critical role of the traditional institution in the influencing of socio-cultural and political governance of the state is particularly unique and will require more level of investigations through a field-based study. 

Conclusion 

In Edo State, the social protection landscape remains ill-defined on the basis of ad-hoc policy palliative measures aimed to address poverty, unemployment and maternal-child healthcare concerns. It is often being seen as a quick fix approach to social intervention majorly driven by the ugly incidences in the Mediterranean Sea and the enslavement of several hundreds of Edo-born Nigerian migrants in Libya. The measure is basically youth-centred leaving out women, children, aged and persons having disabilities challenges. The measure is also hardly systematic with little or no institutional structures for SP-CT. 

The prioritization of social protection by the Federal Government through the National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) could provide the ample opportunity for the state to embark on an all-inclusive social intervention programming that is targeted on the most vulnerable persons particularly the poorest of the poor category of the population that susceptible to trafficking and often become families from whence traffickers get victims. The policy environment on social protection in the state is very weak and does require rigorous field investigations to unravel the challenges and interest around social protection in the state.

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