#EndPoverty:9 Ways Nigeria Should Address Poverty

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018 3.00PM /Bukola Akinyele and Otto Abasiekong, Proshare WebTV


This year marks the 70th anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is important to recall the fundamental connection between extreme poverty and human rights, and that people living in poverty are disproportionately affected by many human rights violations.

Joseph Wresinski was one of the first persons to highlight this direct link between human rights and extreme poverty. In February 1987, he appealed to the Human Rights Commission to examine the question of extreme poverty and human rights and eloquently captured the nexus between human rights and extreme poverty with his profound observation: “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”

Government policies alone cannot create the social inclusion that is fundamental to reaching those left furthest behind and overcoming poverty in all its dimensions. The commemoration of October 17 each year, when people living in poverty take the floor and share their experiences, demonstrates how we can achieve greater social inclusion by enabling people from all walks of life to come together to respect the human rights and dignity of people living in poverty.

The persistence of poverty, including extreme poverty, is a major concern for the United Nations.

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty can strongly complement such initiatives because it aims to ensure that the active participation of people living in extreme poverty and those furthest behind is a driving force in all efforts made to overcome poverty, including in the design and implementation of programmes and policies which affect them. Only by creating and nurturing a genuine partnership with people living with poverty will it be possible to build an inclusive world where all people can enjoy their full human rights and lead lives with dignity.

 

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end extreme poverty by 2030 is unlikely to be met.

A new report by The World Poverty Clock shows Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. India has a population seven times larger than Nigeria’s.

The struggle to lift more citizens out of extreme poverty is an indictment on successive Nigerian governments which have mismanaged the country’s vast oil riches through incompetence and corruption.

Nigeria has the largest extreme poverty population 86.9million in June 2018. The 86.9million Nigerians now living in extreme poverty represents nearly 50% of its estimated 180million population. As Nigeria faces a major population boom- it will become the world’s third largest country by 2050.

Solution to Eradicate poverty in Nigeria


Promoting MSME Development

According to the 2014 survey carried out by the National Bureau of Statistics in partnership with the Small Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria(SMEDAN), Nigeria has about 37million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises that are engaging over 50 million Nigerians.

It is on this basis that sound policies and enabling environment for MSMEs to thrive in Nigeria are critical because of the massive jobs they create across the various sectors of the economy.

Like notable Nigerian entrepreneur and philanthropist Mr Tony Elumelu ,CON Chairman of Heirs Holding once stated “Entreprenurship has the potential of uplifting millions of Africans from poverty”.

From sound policies, enabling environment to effective funding and support, enterprise development must be given top priority in Nigeria, to address the poverty trap.


Investment in Education

Education is one key avenue to addressing poverty and apart from degrees and certification, vocational education is also essential to developing skills and efficiency in a population.

From the National Bureau of Statistics analysis the North-West and North-East contribute to the large equation of over 10million out of school children population in Nigeria.

A concerted effort from the Federal, State and Local governments is key in ensuring education is given top priority in the country.

Like Bill Gates the billionaire and philanthropist emphasized, the Nigerian policy makers must take investing in its people seriously.


Raising the National Minimum Wages

Since 2011 Nigeria’s minimum wage still remains 18,000.00 and is overdue for review and with the ongoing negotiations between the Labour Union and the Federal/State governments we expect a reasonable agreement on a fair and decent minimum wage for workers.

With inflation at over 11% and the purchasing power parity of Nigerians reduced after the recession era, the range of N25-30,000.00 minimum wage, will not be too high to review.

The condition of worker across the nation is challenging, and an urgent review will empower workers and increase their purchasing power.


Microfinancing

Microfinance is defined as the “supply of loans, savings, and other basic financial services to the poor.  Using microfinance, people who are unemployed or who have a low income could get small loans to help them become self-sufficient.

It is expected that the recent repositioning of Microfinance banks in Nigeria, will increase access to finance particularly for the rural cooperatives and groups across the country.

This should also provide soft loans to a rising working class dominated by a youthful population within the age bracket of 21-35 years.


Gender Participation

Women empowerment is key to nation building and like former U.S President Barack Obama once asserted “We know from experience that nations are more successful when their women are successful”. Gender equality raises household incomes and translates into better prospects and greater well-being of children which is a smart way to reduce the poverty for future generations as well as our own.

The Grameen Bank model in Bangladesh which empowered rural women is a global model nobel-laureate Professor Mohammed Yunus demonstrated.

In Nigeria concerted efforts must be made to encourage gender participation in the economy, technology space and policy making space.


Transparency in Government

Through the building of strong institutions, driving transparency in governance and accountability billions of naira meant for the state, will not be diverted and will go a long way to reduce corruption.

From budgets to intervention programs, the country can benefit from massive projects which will go a long way to reduce the poverty population in Nigeria.

This will require the election of honest, committed and trustworthy politicians who believe in a transformed Nigeria.


Access to Healthcare

The Federal Government should strengthen the primary healthcare system in Nigeria. People are pushed into extreme poverty every year by having to spend on health issues which lead them into financial hardship.

The National Health Insurance Scheme needs effective funding and wide coverage, while State Governments need to do more in providing healthcare infrastructure to the citizens.

Healthcare is critical and a robust government intervention will make it accessible and affordable to millions of Nigerians.


Infrastructure

Investment in infrastructure is one way to build a connected economy in the nation, and can go a long way in addressing poverty. From regular power supply, rail network, good roads, access to pipe-borne water and intervention in mass housing projects, this will spur economic activities and empower more Nigerians.


Financial Inclusion

With the advent of the fourth industrial revolution driven by digital technology, Nigeria has a great opportunity to utilize technology, especially through “Fintech” to boost financial inclusion.

The population of the financially excluded adult population in the country is currently 41.6% and with the use of processes like blockchain, innovation could play a key role in driving financial services to rural areas that lack access.

This will improve a national savings culture, increase financial transactions and empower a lot of Nigerians.

The Central Bank of Nigeria and other stakeholders must work assiduously to drive a robust financial inclusion plan in the country.


Coordinated Social Intervention Programmes

Social Intevention Pogrammes like the current initiatives by the Federal government like the N-Power, National Home Grown School Feeding Programme and the Growth Economic Enhancement Programme(GEEP), which is providing support and assistance to micro-traders and SMEs is laudable.

It is important to have sustainable SIPs that attract the investments of the private sector, which will have a far-reaching impact on the wider population.

The design must be empowerment not a handout system to ensure sustainability of public finance.


Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.


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