By Dakuku Peterside
Poverty is all around us. You see it in all aspects of our lives. It is so ubiquitous that it has been ingrained in our collective psyche. We seem to have accepted it as inevitable and use it to explain our personal and collective reality. It is one condition many people work and pray hard to overcome, yet we seem not to make any meaningful progress. We have more poor people now than at any other time. Poor Nigerians are the majority , from big cities to rural Neighbourhoods. Even the minority well-off people suffer from the “poverty tax” levied on them by poor relatives, family members and friends. Statistically by 2018, we are the poverty capital of the world.
There is a famous saying in Nigeria, an untested hypothesis or supposition, that if you do not want a matter dealt with conclusively, set up a committee, which will naturally lead to several other committees till infinity. The same applies to an issue nobody wants to take responsibility for or address. The most popular strategy, evasive as it is , is to blame some phantom body, which will also blame another body, and at the end, nobody will take responsibility, and nothing will be done. This script has found expression in the blame game between the federal and state governments on the seemingly unconquerable affliction of poverty, which is cancerous in Nigeria. One can easily argue that more people die because of poverty than any other cause of death in Nigeria.
There is a consensus by all Nigerians on our puzzling state of poverty. All available data points to the fact that most Nigerians live below the poverty line. However, the ordinary man’s experience on the street is hellish . In early 2018, Nigeria ingloriously overtook India as the country with the most significant number of extremely poor people. The 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index survey reveals that 63% of persons in Nigeria (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor. The same Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2022 for India shows that as many as 415 million people exited multidimensional poverty in India in 15 years (2005/06 to 2019/21), with the incidence of poverty showing a steep decline from 55.1% to 16.4%. More worrisome is that while global poverty is reducing, the reverse is the case here as more Nigerians migrate towards poverty. Why is this the case?
The first reason is that poverty has been weaponised as a form of control of people by a minority elite class that is feeding fat on Nigeria. This political and business elite class have never had it so good, and they are bent on keeping the status quo. They perpetuate poverty through corruption, poor governance, poor leadership, lack of infrastructure, lack of access to quality education, poor quality health care , dearth of economic opportunities ,lack of shelter, hunger and food insecurity, and weak moral and ethical standards. The summation of the generally poor state of everything in Nigeria is the poverty of the majority. Even the morbid fear of poverty by some in the elite class forces them to engage in primordial and wanton wealth accumulation without a corresponding value creation, leaving the system warped.
There is no genuine commitment by the leadership class to allow for the “prosperity of all” and reduce poverty in Nigeria. The local government and the state (subnational entities} are the nearest to the people and are expected to be at the forefront of confronting poverty within their areas. All their policies and programmes must be tied to growth and development that reduces poverty and improves residents’ living standards. The state government must champion the economic growth and human capital development in the state and ensure that factors of production within its area are utilized efficiently and effectively for productivity and growth and, where possible, wealth created is redistributed to reduce extreme poverty of some. poverty exists where there is low productivity. States must provide an enabling environment for production and create opportunities for their residents to be optimally productive. In Nigeria, state governments are doing the opposite.
Some engage in counterproductive actions.
The state governments have been irresponsible in project and programme initiation and execution as there is often no linkage to the human development index. Again, they need effective oversight from the state assemblies to keep them responsible. The legislatures have been captured at the subnational levels by the executive, and they are next to useless; hence governors can do as they like. No one holds them accountable for their policies and programmes or measures their effectiveness.
Their increasing reliance on federal allocation for income rather than economic activities like agriculture and industrialisation, which will spur rural development, contributes to escalating poverty. Their priorities are often not right and should ordinarily be tailored to address the root causes of poverty. The local governments are moribund and dead in most cases. They are, at best, appendages of the state government and are controlled by the respective state governors. This is the sad reality of our current condition in Nigeria.
China ,the acclaimed hero of the world’s most successful poverty-reduction effort successfully reduced the number of people living below the poverty line in cities to insignificance and decreased the number of rural people below the official poverty line from 775m in 1980 to 43m in 2016. China is working hard to eradicate poverty soon wholly. What did China do? The China government focussed on agriculture, capacity building and industrialization, specifically focused on certain farm produce using modern science and technology, developed businesses and industries that will use the farm products as raw materials, and built infrastructure to attract people to move to the area and create new cities.
The Fujian province is an example. The bottom-to-top poverty alleviation model is very effective, especially where there is a genuine effort from government and business underpinned by great altruistic poverty reduction philosophy.
The town has been the epitome of the philosophy of “common prosperity” for decades. The per capita net income has risen nearly 30-fold in the past 26 years. The Gobi Dessert wine industry is booming, and specific industries, such as mushroom and wolfberry farming, are attracting young people to return to their hometowns to start businesses. The village, with a population of 8,000 residents 20 years ago, was turned into a demonstration town accommodating over 66,000 residents, whose annual disposable income soared from 500 yuan ($77.53) before the relocation to 14,961 yuan ($2,320) last year.
Back to the needless argument on who is responsible for poverty , it is pointless shuffling blames as to which tier of government is responsible for our poverty burden . All tiers are in-fact responsible. I believe the Federal Government has the greater responsibility for containing poverty because they oversee financial and fiscal policy, which have implications for the economy at large. The FG has yet to be sincere in dealing with poverty, and it provides cosmetic and lips service solutions to poverty. The same policies that will grow Nigeria are the same policies that will eradicate poverty. Nigeria’s development and poverty eradication are entwined. One cannot happen without the other.
The different tiers of Government must increase the quantity and quality of the “pie” and then worry about how to share it equitably. Through its policies and projects, the FGN must create the enabling environment for economic growth through improved governance at all levels, including strengthening institutions to deliver services more effectively and efficiently. And provide capacity building both in human capital and infrastructure, increase access to economic opportunities for all, especially the poor, and improve fiscal decentralisation and socioeconomic restructuring where possible.
I vehemently believe that Nigerians do not care about who is responsible, and they want poverty addressed. It is the serial failure of different levels of government to provide the building blocks of poverty eradication that has led to the ballooning poverty . The present narrative on which tier of government front-loaded poverty in Nigeria is simply political, unhealthy, and diversionary.
What is not disputed is the prevalence of poverty and its worsening dimension. The resolution to this debate on whether the states or the federal government is responsible for the ballooning poverty is unlikely. All tiers of government are responsible to different degrees. The challenge is who will come forward with an innovative solution to address the pervading and pervasive poverty?
The literature on poverty eradication is filled with various models adopted by different countries to fight and defeat poverty, from the rise of the Asian Tigers of the late twentieth century (Japan, South Korea, Singapore, to the modern miracles of Dubai, Malaysia, China and India, there are many examples to imitate. This begs the question of why Nigerian leaders have failed to imitate leaders of these countries and eradicate or ameliorate poverty in Nigeria. With our vast human and material resources, one wonders why we have refused to grow our economy and lift many citizens from poverty. I used the word “refused” to buttress the fact that our state of poverty is our choice, consciously or unconsciously. Most Nigerians can adequately articulate the causes of our poverty and even proffer solutions. Poverty is the lived experience of many and not an academic or intellectual exercise or construct. Why must something well-known and so perversive be so elusive to solve? Nigeria needs leaders committed to Nigeria’s economic growth and development with an eagle eye focus on eradicating poverty. Only then will we stop the blame game and tackle the challenge for the benefit of our posterity.
Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States
The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.
The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.
In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.
Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”
“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.
“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.
“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”
Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”
Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life
Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.
Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”
Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.
The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.
While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.
According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.
The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.
“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.
“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”
Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.
Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.
The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.
Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).
Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks
The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.
The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.
Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.
CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.
Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.
DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.
She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.
Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.
Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.
Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.
ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.
CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.
CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.
The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.
CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.
- Source: Independent