A Diagnostic Look At Governor Alia’s Palliative Sharing Mechanism
By Lubem Gena
All over the world, the provision of palliatives or subsidies in certain ways and at certain points in time is institutionalised as an effective strategy for lifting the poor and vulnerable out of the tipping points of nagging poverty. This methodology targets the most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged individuals and households. And is normally carried out through proper identification and verification mechanisms to ensure the palliatives reach those in genuine need of such interventions. This concept prioritises groups such as low-income earners, unemployed individuals, elderly citizens, and people with disabilities.
On 22nd August, 2023, the Governor of Benue State, His Excellency Hyacinth Iormem Alia, announced several mechanisms he had deployed to cushion the monstrous effect of the removal of fuel subsidy on citizens of Benue State.
This came on the heels of the declaration by the Federal Government that it has approved five billion naira (N5,000,000,000) for each of the sub-national units of the federation as part of efforts to enable the states to procure items for distribution to the people in order to diminish the sufferings of the general populace.
Meanwhile, in Benue State, the Governor announced that, out of the N5 billion that was to be released to the states, Benue got the first tranche, which amounted to N2 billion as of that date.
Speaking during the flag-off of the distribution of relief materials to victims of the 2022 flood in Makurdi, Governor Alia said Benue State has emphasised that the fund will be injected into seven key priority areas.
One of these is to register students for the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO). This target will affect graduating students in all government-approved secondary schools in the state and will be implemented during the 2023–2024 academic year.
Equally, the Governor announced that he was also interested in providing intensive computer and Information Communication Technology (ICT) training for 2000 youth of the state in order to facilitate their acquisition of digital skills that will attract them to job opportunities both within and outside Benue state.
In order to positively impact the lives of the poor, marginalised, and vulnerable groups, the Governor used the occasion to hint at the advanced plans to roll out a grant scheme to five thousand (5000) women in the state informing that such categories of people will be sourced from a revised social register of the women cooperatives that operate in the state.
To rescue the state-owned transportation company that is grappling with challenges that have seen it gradually slump into oblivion, the Governor announced a rescue plan in which one hundred new buses will be procured for Benue Links. This aims at recalibrating its operations and consequently placing it on a pedestal to run neck-and-neck with its peers in other states. Thus, it will provide decent but affordable commuter services at rates that are subsidized.
Related to the Benue Links rebirth is the provision of shuttle buses in the three major towns of Makurdi, Gboko and Otukpo as a deliberate approach to ease the movement of people in the affected towns.
Having realised the plight of the pensioners who were denied their entitlements in the past, the Governor concluded that this moment of relief must not pass them by. Therefore, a scheme has been configured to pay one month’s pension arrears to state and local government retirees.
Lastly but certainly not least, Governor Alia moved a step further to banish hunger in the land by procuring a large cache of rice to be distributed to each of the 23 local government areas in the state, amongst other things.
As soon as these plans were rolled out, tongues wiggled, as could be naturally expected in a state where an old political order was dislodged and completely dismantled. Little did those who took a swipe at the aforementioned mechanism take into cognizance that the state government would collaborate with various stakeholders, including NGOs, community leaders, local government officials, among others, to ensure the efficient and equitable distribution of the subsidy palliatives.
Many people with consciences are of the belief that a fair deal has been sealed and a transparent selection process will be put in place to ensure that the palliatives reach the targeted beneficiaries and also achieve the clearly marked visionary objectives.
Clearly, the demarcated and mapped areas of intervention are critical ones that will have an everlasting impact on the lives of the beneficiaries. It must be mentioned that, judging from the antecedents of the Governor, the palliatives will definitely be judiciously applied, and those who have seemingly fashioned out strategies to attack the application of the same will wait in vain if not in perpetuity.
I am reliably informed that arrangements have been perfected to monitor the entire process to ensure that the subsidy palliatives reach the intended beneficiaries and are properly utilized. This could involve setting up a feedback mechanism and conducting periodic evaluations to measure the effectiveness of the distribution system.
The subsidy palliatives as configured in Benue have far-reaching social and economic impacts. It has the tendency to provide economic relief to households that are struggling financially. Access to financial assistance through cooperative societies can help cover basic needs such as rent, utilities, educational, and medical expenses, among several other sundry expenditures, thereby reducing the financial burden on families.
In a related development, by prudently administering the subsidy palliatives, Governor Alia will be greatly contributing to social stability in Benue State. When people have access to basic necessities, they are less likely to resort to negative coping contrivances or engage in criminal activities out of desperation.
It is crucial to note that the foreseeable impact ultimately depends on the effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency of the distribution process. Fair identification of beneficiaries, efficient logistics, and proper monitoring and evaluation are essential factors for maximising the positive impact of subsidy palliatives on the masses.
Lubem is a Free Thinker, writes this piece from Abuja, and can be reached via email@example.com.