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WAR ON POVERTY: A LOST BATTLE AT ALL TIMES IN NIGERIA.

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The pains of poverty does not bear analogy with a needle stinging human body and its long effects could be reflected in the philosophical approach an analyst adopted in defining that endemic term called ‘poverty’. Mostly acceptable definition of poverty could be found in the sketch of 1995 Copenhagen World Summit on Development, where absolute poverty was defined as “a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and access to other services”.

Other social commentators have defined poverty in terms of relative deprivation. That is, poverty should be defined in  relation to the standards of a particular society at a particular time, thereby, extending beyond a simple lack of material resources, and in attempting to broaden debate and research on poverty, social experts also coined the term ‘social exclusion’. Whatever the dimension of definition and conceptualization adopted, it could not change the apparent fact that poverty is indisputably an undesirable state of living – an incidence that must be alleviated in every known human settings.

“She has nourished food and her children so hungry but could’nt eat, there is an ocean and her offspring so thisty but could’nt drink, blessed with bounty of clothes but sons and daughters lives bared naked, blessed with vast hectares of housing domain yet her children moved in troops to oversea in search of favourable habits, amply endowed with experts and gurus in various spheres of life but left the so much uncaring mother for favourable zones where the genius is appreciated”.

Who or what could best replicate this shameless, careless and non-challant mother? With no regret or remorse, it is no other entity other than our dear deceitful Nigeria.

The ever-increasing high death rate in our noble country Nigeria is a staggering example of betraying humanity. People die of hunger, nutritional diseases, road crash as a result of bad roads, air mishaps, ethnic clashes, Boko haram killings, all results from poverty and bad governance.

The natural endowment is so ample that other countries of the world make jest of our dear country, Nigeria. Greatest of these resources is the larger concentration  of crude oil hugely deposited in the downstream of Nigerian terrain, which was discovered in the last decade of imperial colonialism of the nation.

Poor leadership and lack of developmental initiatives has been a curse on Nigeria at least for a monumental period. That is, the concept of Nigerian factor is as old as the birth (independence) of the country herself.

Deliberately or unconsciously, our National Economy gradually becomes a mono-economy with the over-concentration on the downsream oil sector and the consequent neglect of other sectors of economy that would have supplied succour  to the  citizens of the country. Apparently, crude oil that ought to be the source of  socio-economic and political greatness to Nigeria as a nation has unfortunately become the “conveyor belt of poverty, the womb of injustice, the den of death and ultimately ,the corridor of crime”.

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Poverty, a social problem and a contagious disease identified in Nigeria as far back as three decades ago, mutating in different forms, aggravating in varieties of dimension accross moving era, surviving all forms of initiatives and overriding all poverty alleviating policies designed to combat the nemesis, and as a result deepening its root, defying all solutions and gradually becoming our permanent companion in Nigeria.

Steadily, poverty is winning the war, starving Nigeria from the south, decapacitating us from  the East and disempowering our masses far from the North. Thus, Nigeria is losing the war on poverty. The corollary of all these are abound in various settlements that make up Nigeria. The masses perpetually poor despite the various poverty alleviating measures applied by successive governments in Nigeria.

The good people of Nigeria, tagged as “suffering but smiling” holding firm to the principle that, if they have devoured our future, they cannot devour our smile, are much conscious that poverty is a consequential wages of bad leadership.

By their greed, calousness and avarice, these thieving ruling elite manufactured poverty through their mindless looting of the country’s treasure, rendering the youths uneducated, and masses, homeless and pauperized. While these elected and appointed ruling cabals are busy with their Oliver Twists’ maddening acquisition, stashing of illegally-acquired wealth in foreign domiciliary accounts and sharing of peoples’ commonwealth, poverty is ravaging the home of Nigerian masses – people are hungry, thirsty, homeless, impoverished, economically degraded, dejected and devastated.

Our streets is filled with children hawking even on highways and youths who have lost hope of what future hold. People were subjected to absolute suffering and a life of misery, and yet, the nation have not been able to produce a leader who could dare exploring the audacity of progressive leadership to the benefit of Nigeria.

Various successive governments in Nigeria have made spirited attempts to reduce the incidence of poverty among the citizens.

In 1972, National Accelerated Food Production Programme and the Nigerian Agricultural and Co-operative Bank were established, in 1976, Operation Feed the Nation to teach the rural farmers how to use modern farming tools. In 1979, Green Revolution Programme to reduce food importation and increase local food production.

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In 1986, Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) and in 1993, Family Support Programme and the Family Economic Advancement Programme. In 2001, National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) to replace the previously failed Poverty Alleviation Programmes. Majority of these initiatives could be regarded as white paper or window dressing  policies which were toothless in tackling the root cause of poverty in Nigeria.

Combating poverty in this country has metamorphosed beyond a mere poverty alleviating programmes because only the politically acute people, whether they are in need or not, always be the benefactors of these projects. Such are just window-dressing and white paper policies, politically designed and implemented in the bureau of power tussle.

At present, there was a paradox at the heart of Nigeria as the economy was growing from strength to strength, mainly because of oil production – yet Nigerians were getting poorer. Despite the fact that the Nigerian economy is growing, the proportion of Nigerians living in poverty is increasing every year. According to National Bureau of Statistics, in 1980, 17.1 million Nigerian population live below 1 dollar per day, 34.7 million in 1985, 39.2million has not produced commensurate employment opportunities and reduction in poverty among its citizens.

The situation was what was often referred to by some analysts as faceless growth. Unemployment figures also indicated that the number of unemployed members of the labour force continues to grow from 12.3 per cent in 2006 to 23.9 per cent in 2011. It is even more disturbing to note that on the average, youth unemployment rate in Nigeria was 46.5 per cent in 2011.

According to NBS report, the North-West and North-East recorded the highest poverty rates in the country in 2010 with 77.7 per cent and 76.3 per cent respectively. On the other hand, the South-West geo-political zone, according to report, recorded the lowest at 59.1 per cent. Among the 36 states of the Federation, the report revealed that Sokoto State had the highest poverty rate (86.4 per cent), while Niger had the lowest at (43.6, per cent). As at 2004, Jigawa State had the highest poverty rate (95 per cent), while Anambra, with a poverty rate of 22 per cent, was the least poverty-stricken state.

A critical look at the indepth budgetary analysis over a couple of past years reveals that poverty is about to be allowed to continue playing unfettered free role among the poor masses of Nigeria, because our domestic earnings and foreign aids are not channelled towards empowering the teeming poor population. Instead governments, past and present, are blatantly committed to overloading our pool of resources while paying huge allowances to political office holders and even, their wives.

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One recent debatable instance of such, peculiar to 2013 Budget is the huge amount voted for furnishing first ladies’ residence. One would wonder what benefit that exorbitant spending would render to the hapless masses.

The lack of a stringent regulatory and monitoring system also allowed these madly paid politicians to indulge in  rampant missapropriation of funds, knowing fully well that our criminal justice system that can indict them, is much at their disposal to manipulate. This has hindered past poverty alleviation efforts, and will continue to do so, since resources which could pay for public goods or directed towards investment (and so create employment and other opportunities for citizens) are being misappropriated.

At this level, it should be recognised that there is the need for integrated and comprehensive approach that included interventions at both macro and micro levels, that will include sustaining both our small and medium scale industries, as an effective means of providing qualitative jobs for Nigerians.  Government at all levels must engage in growth patterns that generate jobs on a large scale to absorb the blessings of additional labour created by the larger youth population as man power. There is also the need for a rethink and shift from jobless growth strategies toward inclusive and pro-poor growth strategies that equip youths and women with required skills for decent employment. Government must be urged working in their capacity to rescue the sinking boat of common peoples’ economy, make audacious but developmental decisions, stop your calousness, selfishness and maintain fast track developmental strategies.

It is only on this plank that we can arrest the growing rate of poverty in our dear country, Nigeria.

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National Issues

2021: President Buhari’s new year message to Nigerians

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Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has addressed Nigerians in a traditional New Year broadcast.

In the speech, Buhari, on Friday, re-echoed his commitment to the Nigerian project, just as he urged other Nigerians to do the same.

The President’s speech read:

My fellow countrymen and women,

First, I would like to thank and praise the Almighty who saw us through the year 2020 and has given us the opportunity to witness the start of another new year. We especially thank God because the year 2020 was one of the most trying years since our existence as a Nation.

2. This can also be said about all other nations around the world, due to the challenges posed on our collective humanity by the novel COVID-19 pandemic.

3. While acknowledging that 2020 was a very tough year, we saw this year put to test our national resilience and ability to survive these tough times and also gave renewed hope that we will again brave any storms that lay ahead in 2021 and beyond.

4. As we celebrate the opportunity before us in this New Year 2021, we must also acknowledge the passing away of our brothers and sisters who didn’t make it into this New Year. May their souls rest in perfect peace.

5. We must remember that we also celebrated the historic occasion of our sixty years as an independent and sovereign country on October 1st 2020. In the spirit of hope and gratitude, I would like to remind us again that as a country on the difficult journey to nationhood and greatness, we have confounded the many pundits at home and around the world who never gave the newly-born country that emerged unto the world stage on 1st October 1960 a chance of surviving much longer than a few years.

6. Yet, here we are, 61 years by the next anniversary in October, and not only are we here, we are standing tall in the comity of nations as one country united under the will of God and also actively growing that indivisible Nigerian spirit that has enabled us, year after year, decade after decade, to weather all stormy waters and emerge stronger and better where others have fallen and disintegrated. This nation, this Nigeria will survive and thrive.

7. In this journey to nationhood, we have experienced the highs and lows. 2020 indeed came with a lot of challenges ranging from security and economic issues across the regions to understandable protests that were mainly led by our youths and served notice to the demand for police reforms and accountability. This government heard, this government listened and this government is committed to fulfilling the five demands of our youths, fully understanding that we all wish well for Nigeria.

8. In the midst of all these challenges, I had initially pledged that as your elected President and Commander-in-Chief, I would ensure that these ongoing challenges will be faced head-on with renewed determination and with all the appropriateness and urgency required. Your voices have been heard and we would continue to listen to you, and all the key stakeholders who are committed to the unity of Nigeria to ensure that every region of this nation is safe for us all, while guaranteeing that the future is also secure for the coming generation.

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9. I wish to also use this occasion of New Year to reaffirm my commitment to the people of Nigeria, especially the youth who need our collective encouragement and support. In securing this nation we need to secure the future of our youth.

10. Our young people are our most valuable natural resource, at home and abroad. Their ingenuity, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit is evident to all. Many of our young people are excelling in various spheres of life including sports, entertainment, information and communication technology, commerce and are globally recognized as achievers.

11. As a Government we are committed to actively engaging with the creative energies of our young people. In this regard, we will partner with the legislature to develop an enabling environment to turn their passions into ideas that can be supported, groomed and scaled across regions. This will create vast opportunities in fintech, agriculture, business process startups and in the entertainment industry.

12. The year 2021 will indeed be a year where we will work to reinforce the hopes of fellow Nigerians in the vision of a united and progressive Nigeria. This administration would continue focusing on delivering key strategic priorities under our “SEA” – (Security, Economy and Anti-Corruption) Agenda. Some of the key priority areas we would direct our attention and strengths to include:

ON THE SECURITY:

13. Re-energizing and reorganizing the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police with a view to enhance their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities in some parts of the country.

14. In line with the current security challenges, we are facing as a Nation, I would like to reiterate the promise I made recently when over 300 of our boys abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara were successfully rescued by our security operatives.

15. The professionalism shown by our Security Forces and the collaboration from all stakeholders across both State and Federal Governments that led to the successful rescue of the boys is proof that Nigeria has the internal capacity to decisively deal with terror attacks on our citizens.

16. However, we recognize that we rapidly have to move to a more proactive and preemptive posture to ensure that these sorts of traumatic incidents do not become a norm. Our administration is fully aware of the responsibility we have to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, and we will not relent in learning and adapting to changing threats to our national security and civic wellbeing.

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ON THE ECONOMY:

17. Our focus is on revamping the economy through the national economic diversification agenda that supports the primary goal of national food self-sufficiency. This has helped reduce the growing food related inflationary figures and have in considerable measure positively impacted our food security status during the long months of the pandemic lock down.

18. We are also currently rebuilding our national infrastructure base and, in the process, introducing transformation through the rehabilitation, modernization, and expansion of the railway system, national roads and bridges both in rural and urban centres, alongside the airports and seaports.

19. The reforms we have put in place in the power sector would guarantee increased efficiency in our drive to significantly expand the generation and distribution of electricity for use in homes and factories.

20. As an administration we are currently undertaking a series of special interventions designed to boost job creation and support the entrepreneurial drive of our youths.

21. With the recent opening of our borders, we expect that the pent-up demand of legitimate cross-border and international trade will boost the fortunes of the many small businesses and agricultural enterprises that depend on Nigeria’s trade and commerce.

22. The message to our West African neighbours is that Nigeria is once again fully open for those willing to conduct business in a fair and equitable way.

ANTI-CORRUPTION:

23. On the anti-corruption drive of our administration, we have recorded substantial gains so far and this year, we are committed to continuing along the path of eradicating corruption, through collaboration with all the arms of Government to effectively prosecute this fight.

24. While we would be working with the Legislature to enact laws that would strengthen this fight, we would also be looking at reviewing some of our laws which would ensure that this fight is more effective. On the part of the executive, we would ensure the diligent and timely prosecution of corruption cases, while appealing to the judiciary to ensure that corruption cases are dispensed with expeditiously.

25. The persistence of various forms of violence has meant that in the most affected parts of the country, the fabric of inter-communal harmony woven through years of investment of effort at building trust, mutual respect, and harmony has been threatened.

26. Insecurity as a challenge has direct repercussions on our national economic stability, growth, and development, setting us back at critical points through the destruction of public and private investments.

27. In parts of the country where chronic poverty, social exclusion, and disillusionment among sections of the youth were already a problem, the cycles of violence that have been unleashed by mindless groups like Boko Haram and others have thwarted the efforts of government to undertake the social policy and associated investments that could make a huge difference in the quality of life of our citizens.

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28. I am aware that for some of our compatriots, the progress we have registered since the inception of this administration is not nearly as fast or as sufficient as they would wish. I do not begrudge them their views in so far as they signify a wish, in which we all share, for only the very best for our country.

29. Nevertheless, I call upon all Nigerians to carefully recall the circumstances of our coming to office, the facts on the ground and the resources at our disposal since 2015 with the accomplishments of this administration.

30. As a people, we have shown admirable resilience in the face of every adversity, an unmatched capacity to recover speedily from every setback, an unparalleled generosity of spirit when we resolve our differences, and a constant readiness to invest faith and hope in the destiny we share as a united country built on the diversity of its peoples.

31. It is these attributes that underpin the Nigerian spirit of “can do, will do” that gives me hope that we shall yet get to destination and fulfill our calling together, especially with the solid resolutions we are setting in this new year.

32. Keeping our country on a forward march is a duty which we all have and share. In this regard, keeping our country safe from a resurgent cycle of COVID-19 as this administration finalizes its plans to procure and efficiently and effectively distribute the COVID-19 vaccines, I urge you all fellow citizens to observe strict COVID-19 prevention protocols.

33. As your elected President, my pledge to you is the same as it has always been; I will play my part fully and without fear or favour. I invite all of us to do the same. It is what we owe to the founding generation of our beloved country and also to the coming generation. It is what we desire for national prosperity for all demands.

34. Long Live the Nigerian spirit of oneness, togetherness, and unity. Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

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National Issues

SWEGOP charges Buhari, S’West governors to address increased insecurity

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South West Group of Online Publishers, (SWEGOP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Southwest governors and other stakeholders to put in place modalities that will check the activities of the hoodlums and criminals disrupting the peace of the nation.

Online publishers decried the increasing rate of lawlessness and criminalities in all the nooks and crannies of the country.

SWEGOP, in a statement signed by its Chairman,  Olayinka Agboola and the Public Relations Officer,  Remi Oladoye described the alarming rate of attacks on innocent citizens and members of the general public as a worrisome situation, which requires an urgent solution.

It further noted that since the end of #EndSARS campaign which was hijacked by hoodlums,  the crime rates have been on a high increase and the security operatives seems to have lost control of the ugly situation.

“The situation we have found ourselves is nothing  but a reckless abandonment of  responsibilities  by those saddled with  the task. Everybody  including officers of the  security  agencies now live with the fear of being attack by the hoodlums  who are kidnapping , robbing and killing people for rituals.

SWEGOP calls on stakeholders in the country not to leave the role of protecting lives and properties to government alone but see it as a task that must be done by all and sundry.

While commending the South West governors for launching  Amotekun corps, the group however urged the  militia group to do their work diligently and collaborate with other security  agencies in their respective states to curb the crime rates in the society.

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Pan-Yoruba group, carpets S’West governors on insecurity, charges them to empower Amotekun

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Governors of the South-West States of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo Oyo and Osun have been accused of grossly abdicating their primary constitutional duty of protecting the lives and properties of their citizens, judging by the escalating security crisis in the region.

A pan-Yoruba group, the Majeobaje Movement, leveled the allegation in a ‘save our souls’ letter to the Chairman of the South-West Governor’s Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, which was copied to the five other governors.

In the letter leaked to the press, the Movement described itself an alliance of professionals, entrepreneurs, policy specialists and academics concerned about and working for improved governance in Nigeria.

The group decried the spate of killings, kidnappings, rape and sundry criminal activities ravaging the region under the governors’ watch, with the attendant loss of lives of many illustrious citizens and the destruction of their livelihoods.

Majeobaje wondered why the much trumpeted South West Security Network, codenamed Amotekun, is yet to be effectively pressed into the service of protecting the lives and property of the citizens of the region, against the high expectations of the citizens.

It highlighted several unresolved security breaches in the region especially in different parts of Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Ondo and Ogun states, which had caused anguish to many families.

The group said it is worrying that little or nothing had been done by the government of these states to mitigate the sufferings of residents in the hands of violent herdsmen, kidnappers, rapists and armed robbers or to bring the band of criminals to justice.

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The group further stated, “Insecurity in the SW has now reached a crisis point, partly because the Federal Government refuses to act decisively, and also because our SW governors are failing to use Amotekun effectively.

“Because banditry has overwhelmed the Northwest, Fulani herdsmen are fleeing desertification, victims of Boko Haram in the Northeast are seeking refuge, and the unemployed from all parts of Nigeria are looking for work, these people are now streaming mostly into our SW states.

“They often do so with a high level of aggression including bearing of AK47 rifles with which our people are being raped and killed with scant regard to the sanctity of life, our culture or the rule of law.”

In a five-point recommendation, Majeobaje wants the governors to act decisively in stamping out criminal activities within the region and ensure that citizens sleep with both eyes closed, especially now that the end-of-the-year festivities have peaked.

The recommendations:
1) That the six governors should urgently allocate more funds to Amotekun so the outfit can be fully equipped and recruit more personnel to improve its operations, especially by the deployment of Surveillance Drones and Forest Rangers. The ongoing assistance to conventional security agencies should be enhanced and sustained.

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2) Use new and existing laws to revamp Neighborhood Associations and to strengthen LGA Security Committees to include Traditional Rulers, Amotekun/Police and Vigilantes. These two units will help document residents, deter criminals, and collate data to monitor the activities and welfare of itinerant workers such as Okada riders, farm workers, herders and others.

3) Encourage the setting up of private security companies that will specialize in intelligence gathering services as well as the imperative use of drones for aerial surveillance and the investigation of kidnappings.

4) Set up or reboot a Security Trust Fund in each state in such a way that will encourage and compel the private sector to support with funding and management of these security initiatives.

5) Demonstrate leadership by physically leading the charge to secure your states, by mobilizing resources at the front lines, and by rekindling the hopes of our farmers, their families and other residents to demonstrate that their governors have not abandoned them to the impunities of marauding forces.

The Majeobaje Movement cautioned that ‘before Apocalypse arrives,’ Governor Akeredolu and his brother governors must urgently act so that the long suffering people of the six states are not left with no option than resort to self-help, the consequences of which can only be imagined for both leaders and the led.

The group said, “We, therefore, call on you and your colleagues to rise up today, take leadership and fulfill your primary purpose of protecting and defending the lives and properties of your people!

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“If you fail to urgently do the needful by pushing back the marauders, we are concerned that our anxious people may regain their composure and be left with no other option than to defend themselves,” the group stated firmly.

Assuring the governors of their highest regard always, the letter dated 12th December, 2020 was signed on behalf of its general membership by its steering committee members including Chief Akintayo Akin-Deko, Sir Gbenga Adebusuyi, Revd. Muyiwa Bamgbose and Mr Ibukun Fakeye.

Other signatories included Dr Dolapo Sikuade, Mr Deola Kumapayi, Mr Yomi Layinka and Mr Ayo Oyerinde.

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