The importance of tackling poverty from the grassroots through human capacity development and empowerment

poverty

In June 2018, the Brookings institution, an American think-tank research group, published data from the World Poverty Clock which showed that Nigeria, with an estimated population of 200 million, had overtaken India {population of 1.32 billion} as the “poverty capital” of the world. Specifically, it reported that with 87 million Nigerians already living below the poverty line, six more fall into extreme poverty every minute.

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The institution’s data on the Nigeria’s poverty is clearly disheartening, however, it pales in comparison with that of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, NBS, a Federal Government agency which back in 2016, reported that over 112 million Nigerians were living in poverty. It must be stated at this point that the number quoted by the NBS represents more than half of the estimated population of Nigeria, this is quite alarming and ought to put our government and policy makers on their toes.

The importance of eradicating poverty is not lost on the United Nations, for example and it remains Number One on its list of Sustainable Development Goals with a 2030 target to “End poverty in all of its forms everywhere”. At the exponential rate at which poverty is growing in Nigeria, it would be almost impossible for Nigeria to eradicate poverty from our land come 2030 unless the hard work begins immediately and earnestly.

I recently came across {again} a twitter thread by the able Presidential Candidate of our great party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar {he tweets via his Twitter account @Atiku}, the first tweet in the thread of the 5th day of August, 2016 goes thus: “In Africa, especially Nigeria, women make better grassroots entrepreneurs. They also have deeper impacts in their communities.”

The importance and profoundness of the said tweet cannot be over-emphasized as same is further buttressed by another twitter user @AdakuUfere who quoted the said tweet on the 11th day of October, 2018 saying; “First time I saw this tweet I couldn’t believe it but I see every day in my work now. There are stats showing that in rural and low-income urban areas 90% of women re-invest in their families. This is compared to only 35% of men. Women have become targets for investments.”

Though I am not surprised, it gladdens my heart that the Presidential candidate of our great party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, understands that it is crucial that we empower our women and youths by providing opportunities for them and by extension deploy their innovation and industry to raise a large number of our fellow citizens out of poverty.

This brings me to the crux of this piece, in the words of Lant Pritchett “Virtually all poverty reduction comes from economic growth and migration – not redistribution {of wealth} or philanthropy”. Whilst I agree with the words of Mr. Lant Pritchett, it must be stated that for the socio-economic system we run in this part of the world, we cannot undermine the importance of philanthropy and grants to some members of our society, especially our rural women, who are more likely to “grow” the said grants in a manner that becomes beneficial to those in their immediate communities

I have witnessed families exit abject poverty on the back of the vigor and tenacity of the women in the said families. They have repeatedly been able to multiply the meager income they earn into multitudes which have been used to amongst other things educate the youth and consequently puts the family at better odds of exiting poverty.

 

This foregoing paragraph brings me to the next point – education. Any attempt to tackle poverty in Nigeria without properly fixing the rot in our educational sector would more or less be likened to pouring water into a basket-a waste of time. We must provide qualitative education for our young ones in order to prepare them to have a fighting chance in a rapidly developing world. The only way the future generation can be armed with the necessary skills to excel in a global economy is if they are equipped with the right and best tools through qualitative education. I dare say that, if Nigeria’s education sector is fixed and is equipped to be on the same level with what is obtainable in developed nations, we would have taken a giant step towards eradicating poverty in our land.

 

We must not leave education to just the youths, we must also ensure that the older citizens, particularly those of child bearing age understand the importance of family planning. Wealth is better created and circulated if the number of dependents are managed judiciously. We are going nowhere fast if our population figures continue to rise far beyond our GDP growth.

 

We must as a matter of necessity revitalize our health sector and make health insurance easily accessible to everyone. It is undeniable that even Nigerians who seem affluent and live above the poverty line are just one serious ailment/disease from falling into poverty.

 

It is also pertinent to state that there is no escaping poverty without sound policies and laws. Ordinarily, we must make provisions for our people to own land and by extension review or do away with the obsolete Land Use Act. This is an area I am particularly interested in, and as an aspiring Federal Lawmaker, if elected into office, the review of the Land Use Act will be top of my agenda. Our policymakers/government to stop living in denial and/or playing politics with such a combustive issue and start working towards implementing wholescale reforms that would benefit every Nigerian.

In all, we must learn from countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the others who were in similar situations several years back – how they were able to scale through and liberate a huge percentage of their population out of poverty. Once we sort these issues earnestly, we would be on course to elevate a significant portion of our population out of poverty and marching towards being a more prosperous country that can bring development to its citizens. 

 

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