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Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Nigeria

Category: Politics

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Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Nigeria

Monday, August 26, 2013 / Bolaji Okusaga**


As the whole 2015 drama gathers steam, the issue that seem to dominate the polity is this concept of turn-by-turn Presidency and not the real issue.


I have heard supporters of the current President play this up and I continue to hear the Chief Antagonists like the Northern Elders forum also pack their punches in this regard. But truth is, we know the real issue, I reckon we also know the solution but something tells me there is no will to solve it, BECAUSE HERE, ACCESS TO POWER MEANS ACCESS TO OPPORTUNITIES FOR ANY SECTION OF THE POWER ELITE THAT ATTAINS IT.


Nigeria today has a poverty level of 63%. When this statistic is pitched against a year on year growth average of 7.4%, it becomes clear that Nigeria's growth is not trickling down. Yes people have blamed corruption for Nigeria's uneven development, but the question is what fuels corruption? I reckon the answer lie in the structure of Nigeria and the values of the Nigerian power elite. Here, you have a situation where power is seen as an opportunity to share rather than care.


I have listened to every political party speak about their manifesto but non thus far is speaking about the real issue: How do we restructure Nigeria? How do we change the values associated with leadership and above all, how do we end the cycle of poverty that fuels crisis and causes instability? For me, the answer lie in doing three things - 1. EDUCATION - 2. ENERGY - 3. EMPOWERMENT.


1. EDUCATION - Tied to poverty is illiteracy. How do we avail the right kind of education that can feed our development needs? Is it education that priortises white-collar jobs or blue-collar, one that seeks to accelerate development and one that targets the bottom of the pyramid - giving them requisite vocational skills that can feed into a chain of small businesses and can guarantee a supply of support skills that can help quicken our infrastructure and industrial development?


2. ENERGY - Growth and Development are actually not synonyms. In Nigeria's case, growth has averaged 7.4% in the last 10 years without commensurate development. How can a nation fast-track development with electricity supplies to the national grid averaging 2,500 Megawatts in a nation of 167 million people? It is often said that small businesses are the engine room of development in any economy, and China remains a classic example. There is correlation between access to energy and cost doing business as well as the development of small businesses.


3. EMPOWERMENT - Agriculture contributes about 45% of Nigeria's GDP but it is largely done at subsistence level with no empowerment for rural and small-holder farmer, hence the high-level of rural-urban drift and tied to this is the high level of destitute and crime in our urban centres. How can we empower small-holder farmers, implement a value chain approach to the development of our Agriculture while moving from Farm-gate to factory-gate?


I reckon that any party that can effectively answer these 3E questions and can present a candidate that has the profile and the will to execute it will have my vote in 2015. It is indeed the turn of the Nigerian people.


** Bolaji Okusaga is the Managing Director The Quadrant Company and can be reached at 

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