CDD Holds Conference on Reducing Poverty, Scaling-Up MDG Interventions in Nigeria

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) held a one day conference at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria to disseminate and share findings on the Centre’s study on ‘Combating Poverty and Scaling-Up the MDGs Interventions in Nigeria: An Action Plan.’ The meeting which took place on the 24th of October 2013, was attended by top government officials, including the Deputy Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abdullahi Umaru Ganduje, Representative of Niger state government, Hon. Dattiju Aliyu, Representative of Office of the Senior Special Assistant of President on MDGs, Zubairu Abdullahi, Member, Committee on MDGs (HoR), Hon. Nkoyo Toyo, Representative of the Central Bank, Dr. Mudashiru Olaitan, Special Adviser to the President on NAPEP, members of the diplomatic corp, civil society groups and media. Stakeholders deliberated on ‘Effective Strategies for Reducing Poverty and Scaling up Implementation of the MDGs in Nigeria.
In his welcome address, Dr Kole Shettima, Chairman, CDD International Governing Council (IGC), noted that the event was to take stock of Nigeria’s journey of MDG two years to winding up, to understand the challenges, what the states are doing to address poverty and what can be done to accelerate interventions. He also hinted on the need to commence plans for post 2015. While defining the issues, Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, Director of CDD, referring to Chapter two of the constitution, noted that it provides for the need for government at all level to enunciate policies and programs that would strengthen socio-economic rights of Nigerians. He therefore emphasized that it is constitutional responsibility of the Nigerian government as entrenched in the constitution and not a question of commitment made in New York. He decried the high level of insecurity provoked by poverty. He also referenced the path toed in 2009 to mainstream the MDGs into vision 2020 but lamented the key problem of implementation and huge level of widening income and spatial inequalities.
Speaking at the event, chairperson of the session, honorable Nkoyo Toyo, in her remarks, commended CDD for playing leading role in area of research. She also expressed interest over the projects implemented from the debt relief gains in the various constituency but insisted that there is room for improvement. She promised to share the report of house committee on MDG and urged for scale up at local government level and the need to adopt a more bottom-top approach. The honourable enjoined non-state actors to monitor budget debate process of the past, present and future.
In other remarks, representative of special assistant to the president on MDGs, Zubairu Abdullahi, noted that combating poverty and scaling up MDG is the main objective of the office as evidenced in its various developed pool of pro-poor interventions such as the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS), implemented in partnership with state government, Conditional Cash Transfer(CCT), providing credit facilities for local farmers, sustaining girl child education in partnership with UNICEF and reduction of state of maternal mortality through the Midwives Service Scheme. He also said through their laudable projects, Nigeria has been commended for its ambitious scale up interventions in the international community.
Representative of the National Poverty Eradication Programme NAPEP bemoaned the numerous escalating factors that has challenged the MDG especially insecurity and encouraged for suggestions that will help in reduction strategies. On the part of Hon. Dattija Aliyu, who represented the chief servant of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, he expressed that the endemic poverty in the north is as a result of insecurity, illiteracy, bad governance, corruption and lack of access to credit which have had multiplier effects on productivity in the region. He also highlighted some of the initiatives of the present Niger government in the areas of education, massive provision of infrastructure and the new Graduate Development Scheme that focus on creating jobs for young graduates in the State. He enjoined all stakeholders to work together in formulating modalities that would create enabling environment to address these multi-faceted crises. He also called for the introduction of unique and genuine efforts in the fight against corruption. He concluded by calling on the northern government to revive the textile industry and agriculture.
In his presentation, the Deputy Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abdullahi Umaru Ganduje, shared the various programmers that have been embarked upon in Kano to improve development in the state. He described the state as the commercial nerve of the north but decried problem of low illiteracy rate, poverty in health sector, high government expenditure and lack of infrastructure inherited by the present administration. He however gave details of the giant strides made in the past six years in the areas of education through the introduction of the ‘Late breakfast and Early Lunch’ in primary schools, construction of class rooms and staff quarters, establishment of craft schools for skill acquisition, jointly established bi-lingual school in Niamey with the government of republic of Niger and a new university in Kano, establishment of the higher education programme for students to acquire masters and PhD overseas including a focus on female medical students and the deployment of students to western part of the country to learn Yoruba as part of the efforts to break the cycle of suspicion.
He also informed the gathering that, in the area of health, infrastructure and reforms, there has been improved tempo in immunization, sponsorship of both girls and boys to medical schools abroad, construction of a fly over, creation of new housing estates, improved headquarters, maintaining transparent process by advertising all contracts and publishing council resolutions. He also said the administration has introduced tax reforms and KAGIS for land administration, the ‘Lafiyaji’ projects which has trained 500 persons on entrepreneurship, provided grants to 5,000 women in each local government, established 37 microfinance banks and introduced efforts to modernize transportation.
The central bank representative, Dr. Mudashiru Olaitan, noted several factors that have made poverty endemic in the country which include lack of investment in infrastructure, failure of government to identify and finance projects that will engineer development, cultural biases such as limitation in access to land, trade barriers and high population rate. He however enlightened participants on some of the numerous interventions instituted by the CBN which include the commercial service scheme, the SME guarantee scheme, the Entrepreneurship Development Centres (EDC) in each geo political zone, the Equitorial Credit Guarantee Scheme and the Commercial Cultural Credit Scheme.
Comments, questions and responses bordered more on ensuring interventions trickle down to the rural level and to small scale business owners and farmers, prioritizing unemployment in dealing with MDGs, empowering women as against merely promoting affirmative action, adoption of content specific based approach rather than nationwide approach and efforts to sustain development initiatives post 2015.
Ms. Mercy Ezehi, Head, People-Centred Development Unit of CDD, in her presentation of the policy brief on Creating Traction for Scaling up the Millennium Development Goals and Poverty Reduction in Nigeria, said CDD has been involved in monitoring the debt relief gains since 2006 and in spite of the numerous interventions by the government, poverty remains high. Her presentation noted the huge variations in the rate of poverty among states and urged the government to adopt holistic and evidenced-based approach to address abject poverty among the citizens. She highlighted the challenges encountered for each goal and made recommendations such as uniformity in education system, transparency and accountability in funds disbursed, political will in women empowerment issues and adoption of legal framework in the fight of violence against women, improvement of the Midwifery service scheme, and passage of health bill, provision of drugs for persons living with HIV and other diseases and investing and building capacity on environmental management.
In his closing remarks, Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, promised the report will be circulated among stakeholders and urged the Niger state government as the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum to provide the CDD a platform to engage with the governors.
With reports

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