The sole objective of this paper was to investigate the poverty implications of COVID-19 on Nigerians, relative to the effectiveness of the government’s social protection programs in mitigating the socioeconomic strain caused by the pandemic. The paper used documentary analysis to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Nigerians’ socioeconomic lives and the government’s policy response to the situation. The review found that COVID-19 exacerbated the existing poverty in Nigeria, and most of the government policy programs were not effective in mitigating the effects. We concluded that government policy responses to the socioeconomic strain caused by the pandemic were ineffective due to the pre-existing poor performance of social protection programs in Nigeria before the onset of COVID-19. As the world prepares for future pandemics, we recommend that the Nigerian government overhaul the existing social protection programs on poverty alleviation in Nigeria by addressing all gaps and looking for effective and strategic ways such programs can achieve desirable results.