The Political Class and Tokenization of Pro-Poor Social Policy in Nigeria

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 10:50
Oral Presentation
Adeyinka BANKOLE, Bowen University, Nigeria
Pervasive poverty despite huge resource endowment is no doubt a defining feature of the contemporary Nigerian society. It is a problem that has generated different responses from state and non-state actors. Tokenizing social policy in this paper is operationalized to describe the chosen trend by the political class to use non-formal and quasi-formal measures to ‘deliver’ dividend of democracy to the massively impoverished Nigerian citizens. The emergence of the concept of ‘stomach infrastructure’, traceable to the failure of the state, became instrument of entrenching the structure of inequality by both the incumbents of and aspirants to political offices.

On the framework of social exchange theory, this paper examines the transactions, commoditization and symbolism of non-formal option of ‘delivering’ social policy intents to the Nigerian people. The sources of financing these ‘stomach infrastructure’ products are identified and the propriety of these sources vis-à-vis the ideals of good governance. The findings reveal interconnectedness between this trend, endemic corruption, and failure of the state to meaningfully and sustainably perform its roles to the citizens.

The paper concludes that the Nigerian experience of tokenizing social policy provides a case study of how the political class maintains its hegemony and the status quo of inequality through conscious acts of dehumanizing the vulnerable masses. The need to chart a new course of governance system where corruption is minimized and the state becoming alive to her primary responsibilities is recommended. Value reorientation is also crucial to the overhaul of the warped social system.