By Sam Eyoboka
SPEAKERS at the 6th public lecture of Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria have bemoaned the poverty rate in the country, calling on stakeholders especially the government to tackle the menace headlong to avoid imminent catastrophe.
The lecture titled; “Eradicating poverty in Nigeria: The role of the Church, entrepreneur and government,” had in attendance notable personalities including General Overseer of the church, Rev. Felix Meduoye, Chairman, Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, Rev. Tunde Lemo; Chief Executive Officer, Coscharis Limited, Dr. Cosmos Maduka, Chief Executive Officer, Systemspecs Limited, Deacon John Obaro and Chief Consultant, B. Adedipe Associates Limited, Dr. Abiodun Adedipe who was the keynote speaker.
Central to the speakers’ submission was the need for the government, the people and the Church to make concerted efforts in ensuring total reduction of poverty in the society. This, according to them, will ensure harmony and peaceful co-existence vital for economic growth.
Meduoye particularly noted that the lecture, coming few days after Nigeria marked her 59th independence anniversary, provided ample opportunity to review our chequered experience as a nation over the years—-both under military and democratic dispensations, saying not a few Nigerians believe that much still need to be done in terms of fulfilling or attaining our dreams of being a strong, viable, united and prosperous entity where citizens will be able to explore and exploit opportunities for personal and collective growth and development.
The Church, according to him, has a part to play in the process of nation building, saying “enduring and prosperous societies are built and sustained on the enthronement of some values including patriotism, probity, integrity, accountability and transparency.
“If we are to survive as a people and as a nation, we must be seen (individually and collectively) to be pursuing and promoting these ideals in every fabric of our life,” Maduka stated.
He said the theme of the lecture was germane “as it represents what we as a church think should be the approach to confronting the myriad of challenges staring us in the face as a country”.
Maduka decried the huge number of people (90 million) said to be living in extreme poverty (according to statistics from Brooking Institute, World Data Lab’s Poverty Clock) and the ranking of the country by the 2019 global multidimensional poverty index as among the poorest in the world.
“Around June 2018, Nigeria was said to have overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty in the world. This is indeed worrisome and calls for great concern.
“The effect of this negative posture of the country is seen in the spate of armed banditry, insecurity, protests, violence, ritual killings, insurgency, kidnappings and other nefarious acts pillaging our land”, he said.
He noted that as the largest black population in the world, purportedly giant of Africa and endowed with enormous human and material resources, we cannot afford to remain a laughing stock in the comity of nations moreso that these resources largely remain unharnessed and mismanaged.
“Our understanding as a church is that all hands must be on the deck as we proffer this tripod response to addressing the serious issue of poverty confronting the land,” he said.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Abiodun Adedipe, described as worrisome that six Nigerians become poor every minute even as unemployment is rising significantly yearly, advocating solid education as well as creation of jobs as effective antidote to poverty in the country.
Corroborating the submissions, Maduka and Lemo called for decentralization of power, a system that reduces the power of the centre and allows each state or region to develop its resources for the betterment of their people.