By Fidel Agu
Poverty, according to the Encarta Dictionaries, is the state of not having enough money to take care of basic needs such as food, clothing and housing. It is a deficiency or lack of something. Poverty is a global phenomenon, hence a global threat.
The World Bank in 2008 raised the poverty bench mark to living below 1 dollar, 25cents a day. For many years before that, the poverty line was 1 dollar per day; but the 1 dollar a day used then, the bank said, would be 1 dollar 45 cents now, if inflation alone was accounted for.
In Nigeria, the National Bureau of Statistics estimates that 54.4% of Nigeriaâ€™s 140 million people live below poverty line. Unemployment; limited access to education; inadequate housing, food, health care, safe and healthy environment as well as clean water; ignorance and; lack of access to information have been severally identified as promoting factors for poverty.
An estimated 7.3 million Nigerian children of primary school age are not in school because of poverty. The cost of food, health, transport and other essential social services have in the past skyrocketed, getting out of the reach of the Nigerian poor who constitute well over 70 per cent of the population.
According to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Senator Bello Jubrin Gada, several agencies of government including the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) have carried out a number of initiatives designed to address the problem of poverty eradication.
Indeed, they have made giant strides in their efforts to create wealth, provide jobs and expand social safety nets for the poor. However, the ultimate goal of every public policy and establishment is to add to the lives of the target beneficiaries and contribute to the overall socio-economic growth of the nation.
To achieve this however, the people must be adequately informed and educated on such policies in order for them to willingly support, participate and take collective ownership.
It is in the light of these realities that the National Orientation Agency (NOA), as an organisation responsible for generating public support and inputs for government programmes and policies, thought it wise to gather stakeholders in the war against poverty to enable them cross fertilize ideas on how to win the fight.
In doing this, the Agency recently organized a two-day National Summit on Wealth Creation and Poverty Eradication in collaboration with the Enugu State Government.
The summit which held at the Nike Lake Resort, Enugu brought together relevant government and private institutions in the poverty eradication fight as well as citizens from all works of life.
Addressing the summit, the Director-General of NOA, Alhaji Idi Faruk explained that the main objective of the summit was to provide a national platform for agencies responsible for wealth creation and poverty eradication to exchange ideas and communicate vital information on the various programmes, activities and opportunities created for Nigerians.
Furthermore, he said it was to sensitize Nigerians on poverty reduction and wealth creation programmes and activities of both the Federal and Enugu State Governments as well as elicit participation in order for them to take advantage of opportunities created for their economic empowerment.
The Director-General maintained that because of the importance of communication, the focus of the Agency was to continue to inform Nigerians on what the programmes of wealth creation and poverty eradication are all about, the benefits to their social and economic wellbeing and their expected role in the success of the programmes.
He noted that â€œThe desire of the Agency is for all Nigerians to see every Government programme as their own and not that of the President, Governor or Chairman as the case may beâ€¦the administration of President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™adua has kept faith with the Nigerian people through the assiduous implementation of this developmental policy as encapsulated in the 7-point Agenda.
From the feedback we have received, Nigerians have commended the Federal
Government for the decision to train youths in different states in the areas of skill acquisition, employment generation and poverty reduction.â€
He said the essence of the summit was to undertake a midterm review of the achievements recorded so far and provide stakeholders the opportunity to make inputs into the programme.
Expressing gratitude to the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Barrister Sullivan Chime, for graciously accepting to collaborate with the Agency in organizing the summit, Alhaji Faruk also commended the Governor for the giant strides of his administration in the areas of economic expansion and employment generation. He reiterated the need for improved governance at all levels in order to create a more favourable environment to address the challenges of poverty, explaining that the failure of governance to provide policies and programmes that are people-oriented can deprive the nation of achieving sustainable development.
The President of Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Pastor Olisaemeka Jideonwo supported the Director-Generalâ€™s position in a goodwill message delivered at the event.
He noted that it will be unrealizable for citizens who are being ravaged by poverty and lack the basic skill for personal upliftment to add any meaningful value to national development.