Is poverty real, or a thing of the mind?
Over the years, there has been marked progress on reducing poverty.
The world achieved the first Millennium Development Goal target—to cut the 1990 poverty rate in half by 2015—five years ahead of schedule, in 2010. However, progress made in reducing poverty with respect to the number of people living in extreme poverty globally remains slow, characterized by unacceptably high levels of extreme poverty concentrated in some parts of the world. Unfortunately, global growth forecasts also indicate that the target of ending extreme poverty by 2030 may not be achieved fast enough to make a huge difference.
Since the early 1990s, a direct relationship between poverty and good governance has been established. In fact, the notion of “Good Governance” has been considered necessary for sustainable development and poverty reduction. To attempt to capture the many dimensions of ‘good governance’, researchers at the World Bank Institute have ranked countries with respect to certain qualities: voice and accountability, political stability and absence of violence, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption.
Bringing it home to Africa, the Mo Ibrahim Index for African Governance (IIAG) has been internationally accepted as a measure of good governance. Established in 2007, the framework provides a quantifiable tool to measure and monitor governance performance in 54 African countries, to assess their progress over time and to support the development of effective and responsive policy solutions.
It assesses performance across four key components; Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development. Together, these components symbolise pillars upon which good governance stands, hence, epitomizing the performance of any government, at any level.
Good governance remains the foundation of the path from poverty to prosperity and it is imperative for social and economic progress. It leads to faster economic growth and development, but it involves justice, equity, protection of life and property, enhanced participation, preservation of the rule of law and improved living standard of the populace in the process.
It is in recognition of the above that concerted efforts were put in place to stem the tide of recession that the nation plunged into in 2016. Of particular importance are significant milestones achieved in 2017 including; the launch of an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, a rise in external reserves, a relatively stable exchange rate, and an improvement in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking which saw Nigeria moving up 24 places from 169th the previous year to 145th. Together, these categories symbolise pillars upon which good governance stands, hence, epitomizing the performance of any government, at any level.
Although the 2017 Index of African Governance noted these improvements by acknowledging improved governance in the last five years, it still scored Nigeria 48.1 out of a possible 100 marks. This score happens to be lower than the African average of 50.8 and the West African regional average of 53.8 percent. Nigeria achieved its highest score in Participation and Human Rights (52.5%), while it recorded the lowest in Sustainable Economic Opportunity (42.3%). In the sub-categories, Nigeria scored its best in Rule of Law (63.1%) and its lowest in Accountability (32.7%).
What this means is that governance did not make much impact on the lives of Nigerians. The poor rating also indicates that a lot more needs to be done, particularly in the areas that the country is deficient. As can be seen,
the country is still threatened by vulnerabilities on multiple fronts – economic, social and political. Weak institutional framework, poverty, youth unemployment and a heightened crime rate remain dominant issues in the country.
There is therefore an urgent need for a paradigm shift in Nigeria, to step up through the present ranks and beyond our limitations in order to harness sustainable economic opportunities required to compete globally and Smove our people out of poverty.
The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) has made a commitment to focus on good governance at its 24th Economic Summit in a bid to address binding constraints to the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented. This is to be done through its summit themed: “Poverty to Prosperity: Making Governance and Institutions Work”.
For over 2 decades, the Nigerian Economic Summit has been a major catalyst for conversations on rebuilding the Nigerian economy to improve the living conditions of all Nigerians through insightful yearly summits. NESG has tasked itself with the reformation and promotion of the Nigerian economy through research and advocacy.
The economic summits of the past years have successfully done well in instituting change through influence that mobilizes action. Last year, the summit focused on ’Opportunities, Productivity and Employment’, which elicited and adopted solutions-based approach in addressing issues that create opportunities, tackle unemployment and improve productivity.
In the usual tradition, the 24th Nigerian Economic Summit will bring together stakeholders in government, business, politics, civil society, international organizations and academia to create and share a unifying narrative on the imperatives for good governance as prerequisites to sustain growth and development.
The summit will also feature Start-ups pitching events to connect new ventures seeking to raise funds with potential investors.
The Nigerian Economic Summit Group is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization that serves as a platform for private and public sector dialogue, focused on Nigeria’s sustainable economic development.
The summit is set to take place from 22nd to the 23rd of October, 2018 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja.