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Manufacturing poverty in Nigeria ~ by Prince Charles Dickson


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The original title of this musing is “How do you stop manufacturing poverty in Nigeria”. I got the kicker from conversations with HRM Sanusi in his take on relationships with China and our leadership Humpty Dumpty with a crazy idle population. I, however, will not exactly tow that line, and this is not about China but also about China.

So, I will tell us a true story in a Chinese manner of a man who wants to be boss, but cannot be, he trains, struggles, and tries to do everything but all to no avail. He lives the illusion that someday everything will be okay, be alright; in local parlance one day either Maga pays, or he will get into power, or someone whom he knows who knows someone, his kinsman or faithsman, churchguy, or mosquedude will get into power.

Until then, in today’s Nigeria he must like Emeka Keem Jamal content himself training, and learning Kung Fu skills to do the following with only just two kids (only two) and that’s almost impossible, we are fertile and hardly have just two kids.

Here is his training schedule;

For breakfast:
1. Bread N600
2 Akara N300
3. Ordinary water with Lipton without Milk N200
Total N1,100
A Month N1,100×30=N33,000
Making of PAP
1. Akamu N300
2. Akara or Kuli N200
3. Sugar N150
4. Charcoal N100
A Month N750×30=N22,500

1. Spaghetti one and a half N675
2. Oil N250
3. Charcoal N100
4. Maggie N100
5. Onion, Pepper N100
TOTAL N1,225
A Month N1,225 × 30
= N36,750

If he wishes to eat EBA
1. Gari N600
2. Maggie N100
3. Oil N150
4. Okro N50
5. Pepper N100
6. Charcoal N100
A Month N1100 × 30
= N33,000

In this schedule, let me add quickly that there are no fast and quick rules, for example, there are no rules about three square meals, I am not sure with my arithmetic knowledge how three is even a square. I can tell though that none of the above cuts it as a meal, at best they are food (make something dey belly).

And speaking of three square or circle meals, kids will eat as long as there is food so leave the matter, my dear reading friend.

If you consider spending N93250 Monthly with the exclusion of FISH Or MEAT to feed his Family of just two kids, you will then ask who foots the bills for:
1. Rent
2. Electricity
3. Medicals
4. Detergents (Omo or Soap)
5. School Fees
6. Clothing
7. Transportation fare to Work Place etc.

I have kept these necessities at an intentional number, leaving out relatives, relaxation, societal obligations et al. This man tries to beat the boss, he tries every day to take revenge but society only knows to manufacture poverty.

This is the complex and multifaceted challenge that keeps our nation bound, it requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including government, civil society, businesses, and individuals.

Until we are serious in defining what for example qualifies for Quality Education, prioritize investments in education to improve literacy rates and provide young people with the skills and knowledge they need to secure better employment opportunities, or drive the economy themselves, we will continue to have loads of Emeka Keem Jamal who struggle from womb to tomb.

It is not the government’s job to create Jobs, but it’s a primary responsibility to through economic diversification encourage entrepreneurship and support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across various sectors. This can be achieved through access to capital, training, and market linkages. Sadly our current policies simply facilitate mass creation of poverty as the same SMEs are killed daily.

In our agricultural spaces, we have continued to mouth transformation, but the truth is that even if we invest in modernizing agriculture by providing farmers with access to improved seeds, technology, irrigation, and market opportunities which in turn can significantly boost rural incomes, bandits and kidnappers have vowed we will not eat and threatens our food security.

The infrastructural development we see in China is simply mind-blowing, next to none, I see Chinese railways in China and see Chinese railways in Nigeria, and one is forced to ask—who do us? Government after government, access to basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water, and sanitation only looks like the magically Ibadan-based magician of yesteryears Professor Peller. Without these basics, we shorten quality of life, and we are unable to also create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

Our Social Safety Nets are scams, when we are not feeding school children who are at home during COVID-19, we are inventing magic numbers for conditional funds transfer, rather than implementing effective social safety net programs that target the most vulnerable populations, providing them with cash transfers, food subsidies, healthcare, and other essential services, we are removing almost every form of subsidy available to them.

As I get to the last part of my take on this contentious issue of the Nigerian state, I choose to end with cautious optimism, so here lies a leeway if we care; poverty kills, therefore let us start with health, we can strengthen our healthcare system to ensure that all citizens have access to quality and affordable healthcare services. This includes improving primary healthcare facilities and addressing healthcare disparities between urban and rural areas. A healthy citizenry is a healthy nation.

We must redefine or choose to understand what Good Governance is, and set up anti-corruption measures, implement policies and practices that promote transparency, accountability, and the rule of law beyond rhetoric and political brinksmanship. This can help reduce corruption, which often exacerbates the production line of poverty incorporated.

When we discuss governance, there is often the propensity in nigeriasphere to see only Abuja as the beginning and end of it all, so we leave rural development, if we must stem the ravaging poverty, there should be a focus on the development of rural areas by investing in infrastructure, education, healthcare, and agricultural productivity. This can help stem rural-to-urban migration and create economic opportunities in rural communities.

Our Financial Inclusion does not promote access to financial services, including banking, microfinance, and insurance, to empower individuals and businesses with the tools they need to manage and grow their finances. We must empower our women, and support initiatives that promote gender equality, including access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. Empowered women are more likely to invest in their families’ well-being.

A nation that declares holidays at will is not driven by data, to move out of the dangerous slide, we must invest in data collection, analysis, and monitoring systems to track progress and inform evidence-based policy decisions. Not the current groping in the dark!

It’s important to note that these strategies should be implemented in a coordinated and holistic manner, taking into account the unique challenges and opportunities present in different regions of Nigeria. Additionally, active participation and engagement from citizens at all levels of society are crucial for sustainable poverty reduction. We must kill poverty, we must be intentional about it, Nigeria deserves more, we are capable but do we want to is an important question—May Nigeria win!

Sir Joseph Ntung Ari: A Legacy of Transformation at the Industrial Training Fund

In the ever-evolving realm of public service, the true measure of leadership lies not in words but in actions. It is indeed a rarity to find an individual whose tenure at the helm of an institution leaves an indelible mark, one that turns it into a powerhouse of growth and development. Sir Joseph Ntung Ari is one such extraordinary leader, whose remarkable journey as the Director General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) has been marked by colossal achievements and an unwavering commitment to national development.

Taking the reins of ITF in 2016, Sir Joseph Ari embarked on a path of transformative leadership that has set him apart as an exemplary public servant and a source of inspiration for future leaders. His tenure has been a testament to the power of visionary leadership, and a closer look at his accomplishments reveals the exceptional qualities that have defined his legacy.

Empowering Through Staff Capacity Building: Central to Sir Joseph Ari’s extraordinary journey has been his unwavering dedication to staff capacity building. He recognized that a knowledgeable and skilled workforce is the bedrock of any organization, and he championed numerous training programs within ITF to enhance the competencies of its employees. His commitment to the professional development of ITF’s workforce is a hallmark of his visionary leadership.

Fueling Innovation: Under Sir Joseph Ari’s leadership, ITF has witnessed a surge of innovative solutions. He embraced technology as a potent tool for efficient service delivery. Initiatives such as the ITF Mobile App have made training opportunities and resources more accessible to the public. Furthermore, his emphasis on Research and Development at ITF has opened new horizons for Nigeria’s industrial growth.

Harmonizing Labor Relations: Sir Joseph Ari’s tenure has brought about significant improvements in labor harmony. His exceptional ability to foster an environment of mutual respect and understanding has led to a reduction in industrial disputes, benefiting not only the organization but the entire nation.

Nationwide Impact: Beyond the confines of ITF, Sir Joseph Ari’s influence on the nation’s workforce development is immeasurable. His tenure has played a pivotal role in equipping numerous Nigerians with the critical skills necessary to excel in various industries. This has significantly contributed to the reduction of unemployment and the empowerment of countless individuals and communities.

The Personal Touch: Sir Joseph Ari’s exceptional success as the Director General of ITF is not only attributable to his strategic vision but also to his exceptional personal qualities. Renowned for his unwavering integrity, humility, and unwavering dedication to service, he has fostered an open-door policy that has made him accessible to both staff and stakeholders. This approach has cultivated an atmosphere of trust and unity.

As Sir Joseph Ari moves, it is only natural to reflect on the remarkable strides he has achieved. However, this moment should also be an opportunity to contemplate the future and how best to harness his expertise for the nation’s benefit. The Federal Government should proactively identify areas where his knowledge and skills can be effectively utilized to further advance our nation’s interests, ensuring that his wisdom and experience remain within reach.

In conclusion, Sir Joseph Ari’s legacy at the Industrial Training Fund is a resounding testament to the transformative potential of effective leadership, not without its fair share of controversies. However, he came, he saw and indeed he conquered!

His efforts in staff capacity building, innovation, and labor harmony have profoundly reshaped the organization and made a significant contribution to Nigeria’s workforce development. We celebrate his unwavering commitment, applaud his monumental achievements, and eagerly anticipate his continued service to the nation in future endeavors. Sir Joseph Ari is not just a leader; he is an enduring source of inspiration for others to follow in the path of transformative public service.

Prince Charles Dickson, Ph.D. is the Team Leader of The Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRICentre). He is a development & media practitioner, a researcher, policy analyst, public intellect and a teacher.

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