*** Says 112m Nigerians live below poverty line
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- THE Senate has called for free and compulsory education at the Primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education in the country, saying that would help eradicate poverty effectively in the country.
The Senate said no fewer than 112 million Nigerians representing 67.1% currently live below poverty level, demanding for an urgent response from government.
The Senate also stressed the need for all to ensure the eradication of poverty in the country, even as it demanded that the policies and programmes evolved by the federal government through the Social Investment Programmes and other poverty alleviation measures must be pursued vigorously.
It particularly appealed to the government to implement all the necessary Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs that will eliminate poverty in line with Goal 16 and aimed at promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels..
The resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion by Senator Ali Wakili, APC Bauchi South, co–sponsored by 23 others and entitled, ” Commemoration of the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 17th Octber, 2017.”
The Upper Chamber also called on the Federal, State and Local Governments of Nigeria to henceforth designate and observe October 17 as World Poverty Day in-line with the UN resolution, just as it appealed to Community-based organizations, the Media, both conventional and social, to step up discourse and discussions on the scourge of poverty and its debasement of human dignity.
In his presentation, Senator Wakili said, “The Senate notes that October 17th is the day set aside as the commemoration day for eradicating poverty worldwide. This year 2017 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Declaration by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 47/196 of 22 December 1992, of the 17th October as the International Day for Eradication of Poverty;”
“Note also that this year also marks the 30th Anniversary of the call to action by Father Joseph Wresinki which inspired the observance of October 17 as the World Day for overcoming of extreme poverty and the recognition by the UN of the day as the International Day for Eradication of Poverty. Joseph Wresinki’s personal experience as a child living in poverty and his daily struggle with his family to overcome shame and social exclusion and his lifetime commitment to make heard families living in poverty worldwide;
“Aware that the theme for the 2017 commemoration is “Answering the call of October 17 to end poverty: A path towards peaceful and inclusive societies”; and that the theme reminds us of the importance of the values of dignity, solidarity and voice underscored in the call to action to fight to end poverty everywhere;
“Further aware that the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and its antecedents, the World Day for overcoming extreme poverty are intended to promote dialogue and understanding between people living in poverty and their communities and society. It is meant to demonstrate the strong bonds of solidarity between people living in poverty and people from all works of life, and the commitment to work together to overcome extreme poverty, a chance for men to make their concerns heard and a moment to recognize that the poor people are in the forefront in the fight against poverty;
“Interesting to note that the achievement of a World free from poverty provides a path towards achieving peaceful and inclusive societies as envisioned in goal 16 of the SDG, which key target is to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision making at all levels;
“Recalls that the recent data from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics indicates that no fewer than 112 Million Nigerians representing 67.1% of the country’s estimated population now live below poverty level. Hence the challenge for all to rise to the occasion to vanquish poverty. The passage of the Poverty Eradication Bill has been the right step towards the actualization of the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and meeting the obligation by all countries to end poverty in all forms.”
Seconding the motion, Senator Atai Aidoko, PDP, Kogi East who noted that poverty has become the greatest problem of the third world, said, “Though it is said that about 67 per cent of Nigerians are living below poverty line, I believe that those figures are not correct. There are about 70 to 80 per cent of Nigerians living below the poverty line.”
While noting that no money had been released for the funding of the SDGs in the country, he called on the managers of the economy to ensure that those funds were released, adding that, “This is a wakeup call to the managers of the economy; I appeal to government to release the funds for SDGs in order to get out of poverty.”
Also contributing, Senator Shehu Sani, APC, Kaduna Central who noted that poverty was a threat to national security, said that addressing the issue of poverty would require having a sound economy. He also said that, “If we don’t alleviate poverty, we risk having a serious revolution.”
Sani also called for the implementation of the budget in order to alleviate poverty in the country.
On his part, Senator Jibrin Barau, APC, Kano North described poverty as “a devastating and dangerous problem” bedeviling the country.
He explained that poverty was a menace which resulted into food insecurity, adding, “We should have a sound economy which will ensure food security.”
In his remarks, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who presided over plenary, said that there was the need to reduce and alleviate the implication of poverty which had threatened the livelihood of many citizens, just as he urged government to provide compulsory education, distribution of income through taxation and massive industrialization to create more jobs in the country.
Ekweremadu said: “As a responsible senate we must focus on poverty eradication. We must ensure that we redistribute our resources and income to benefit every class of people.”