A committed world of good governance at the federal, state and local government levels, have been identified as a panacea towards poverty reduction in Nigeria.
This is the submission of the Director- General, West African Institute of Financial and Economic Management, Professor Akpan Ekpo, at the distinguished annual lecture for participants at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.
He noted that the absence of committed leadership in the country is a great concern, while political will is both a necessary and sufficient condition for institutional mechanisms for poverty reduction.
The renowned economist stated that, “a committed world of good governance can reduce global poverty to the barest minimum.
“The solution does not lie within the frameworks but within concrete action that portrays the exercise of good governance at the federal state and local government levels.
“In the absence of good governance, no nation can effectively design and implement sustainable poverty reduction programmes.”
He however suggested that the way forward is for government to formulate and implement an economic blue-print that stresses sustained growth and inclusive development with specific strategies and programmes targeted at the poor.
“This must be accompanied with a robust monitoring and evaluation framework,” he said.
Reflecting on the complexity of the issue of poverty and its alleviation, Professor Ekpo posited that all hands must be on deck with non-governmental organisations, complementing government efforts.
“Globalization of society is not helping matters in this regard. It is also necessary for civil society and the private business communities to join efforts with those of government, more than ever before, to contribute to poverty alleviation in ways that reflect their interests and capabilities because utilizing non-governmental channels would help broaden the scope of government contributions to poverty reduction.
“In this regard, the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should focus not only on individual projects, but also engage in more general analysis and proposals to government for promoting workable approaches to poverty reduction,” Ekpo added.
As Nigeria’s proposed National Conference draws nearer, individuals are looking at areas that the 492 delegates to the conference should focus on, as they are relevant to the development of the nation with huge deposit of natural resources.
The Director General, West African Institute For Financial Economic Management, Professor Akpan Ekpo and the former president Nigerian Institute of Architecture and African Union of Architect, Mr Charles Majoroh, held a conversation with Channels Television on Saturday, on expectations of the National Conference.
They pointed out that the number of participants should not be the issue to worry about. “The issue should be the essence of having the conference,” they said.
Professor Ekpo suggested that the conference should focus more on issues relating to the decentralisation of power in Nigeria in order for all the regions to witness needed development.
He said that the conference was coming at the right time, insisting that Nigerians need to discuss how they should be governed.
“Since the amalgamation 100 years ago, it is about time we sit down and say what are the challenges and also look at how we can make this union work?
“What should we do to make it work? That should be the core of this conference.
“The three-month period is good enough. Once you agree on the principles and how to make the system work, I am sure that every other thing will fall in place,” he said.
National Unit And Exclusive List
Professor Ekpo stressed that Nigeria’s federal structure was not properly implemented and that it was a deviation from the true Federal System of Government.
“The core issue that we want to be together, how do we make it work?” He questioned.
The issue of national unity has been ruled out of the discussions by the government, but Professor Ekpo said that it would be indirectly looked at, as it was necessary for the federating unit to agree that they should stay together.
“Years back, there were regions, and the regions worked. It will be discussed in a way that it will remain one. We don’t discuss that Nigeria should break. People only want to opt out when they feel deprived. The issues should be how to make these things work.”
He explained that the exclusive list of the first republic had fewer items than what Nigeria had currently.
“The centre is too strong and discussion should centre on how power should be devolved to the federating units so they can operate on their own. People want to see development in their area and what we have now cannot do that.
“If you look at the time where regions were competitive and building on their own, look at the north, and the west, you will see what they achieved during that era with revenue generated from non-oil resources,” Professor Akpo insisted.
National Conference Institutionalisation
Mr Majoroh called for the institutionalisation of the National Conference.
“The issue of conference should be institutionalised. Every 10 years, Nigeria should meet and have a discussion.
“It should be either in the constitution on the way we should be doing things. Let the expectations be limited knowing that the discussion will hold in 10 years.
“At every conference we will look at what agreements that was reached in the last conference and look at the achievements.
“We need to have a National Conference Commission that is totally apolitical, that will plan the next national conference and in five years they will value what we have done now and see how to build the next 10 years.
“The minorities, who feel abused and aggrieved, will know that they will be able to ventilate their grievances in the next 10 years. A lot of ethno-religious crisis will die down if people know that they are going to talk,” he explained.
He also pointed out that the three-month period was enough for the conference to hold and reach agreement, insisting that the information needed to execute the conference was already available.
“Most of the facts that are going to be used in the conference are already available in the archive. It is just that People are lazy in searching. If we search, all that needs to be said about the grievances, the multi-lingua and ethnic issues have already been documented,” Mr Majoroh said.
He called on the delegates to also consider the issue of Fiscal Federalism, insisting that “there is need for a serious look at the monthly division of money that takes place in Abuja”.
“People go with the begging bowl every month to be doled out money. There are many other areas of revenue that can be tapped by the states that have been left untouched just because of the easy money that is coming from oil. Therefore, there is anxiety from the oil producing areas that in 40 years’ time they will have nothing to do. Their environment is polluted, there is flaring of gas and nobody is saying anything about that,” he further pointed out.
He urged Nigerian politicians to stay away from the National Conference and focus on their campaign ahead of the 2015 elections, as serious issues that were affecting the nation would be discussed.