By Kingsley Omonobi
In the aftermath of the EndSARS protests across the country against police brutality, a non-governmental organisation, the Society for Community Development, SCD, has called on governors of the 36 states of the federation and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to come up with strategies required to address poverty and illiteracy in their respective domains.
SCD representative, Apoede Atsegbua, who stated this in a chat with Vanguard in Abuja, noted that winning the fight against poverty must begin with investment in research and education for all, particularly the girl child.
He said: “Governors must begin the process in their respective states instead of waiting for grants from the federal government.
“To fight poverty, they must invest heavily in quality education, research and agriculture. Our governors should come up with policies geared toward providing interest-free loans to farmers.
“We are also advocating support for women in politics because one of the ills of our political system today is that there are few women in elective offices.
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“It is not enough for political parties to offer them free nomination forms. They should rally behind them and deploy party machineries to ensure they win as they do for men.
“Participatory governance should take firm root in our land if we want poverty to become a thing of the past.”
Commending President Muhammadu Buhari for bringing integrity and honesty to bear in governance, Mr. Atsegbua wondered why it had become difficult to do away with ministers and other appointees whose impact is yet to be felt by the ordinary Nigerian.
His words: “President Buhari has done quite a number of interventions which if sustained would help revamp the country’s economy.
“But our worry as an NGO committed to the good of all Nigerians is that appointees who are yet to justify their appointments are still holding on to their jobs. Why is this so? Fire those who are not living up to expectations.”
Quoting a development expert and Professor of Economics, Jeffrey Sachs, Mr. Atsegbua argued that “the most common explanation why countries fail to achieve economic growth often focuses on the fault of the poor” saying “poverty is a result of corrupt leadership and retrograde cultures that impede modern development.
“When they are utterly destitute, they need their entire income or more, just to survive. There is no margin of income above survival that can be invested for the future.”
Atsegbua urged Nigerians to demand answers from their elected representatives, adding that only by holding government accountable would the led be able to drive fear in the mind of their leaders.
“However, something as complex as a society’s economic system has too many moving parts to presume that only one thing can go wrong.
“Problems can occur in different parts of the economic machine and can sometimes cascade, bringing the machine to a near halt.
“The key problem for the poorest countries is that poverty itself can be a trap. When poverty is very extreme, the poor do not have the ability by themselves to get out of the mess.
“Here is why: consider the kind of poverty caused by a lack of capital per person. Poor rural villages lack trucks, paved roads, power generators, irrigation channels. Human capital is very low with hungry, disease-ridden and illiterate villagers struggling for survival.
“Natural capital is depleted. The trees have been cut down and the soil nutrients exhausted. In these conditions, the need is for more capital – physical, human, natural but that requires more saving.
“When people are poor, but not utterly destitute, they may be able to save.”