Former ECOWAS President, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas
By Ernest Chinwo
Secretary General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group and former ECOWAS President, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has decried the high level of poverty in Nigeria despite the huge resources that abound in the country.
He noted that Nigeria is the sixth oil producing country in OPEC and the seventh in the world and said it was unfortunate that the wealth had not translated to the benefit of the people.
Chambas, who was guest lecturer at the second Professor Claude Ake Memorial Lecture in Port Harcourt Friday, said more than 70 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty line.
Speaking on “Combating the Resource Curse: strategies for Economic Transformation in a Natural resource-rich Economy”, Chambas said there was a link between the poverty level and the dearth in public infrastructure such as roads, and corruption in the country.
He noted that most countries that are endowed with natural resources grow slowly economically while those without natural resource tend to grow faster.
His words: “Countries that are abundant in natural resources tend to grow slower economically while the economies of countries that do not have natural resources and only depend on what they work out grow faster than those that have natural resources.
“Paradox of poverty is well observed in most petroleum producing countries in the world. Again, countries with natural resources are always faced with violent crisis. A good example is Sierra Leone.”
Chambas, who will also assume duties as United Nations Under Secretary in April, described late Professor Claude Ake as one of the greatest sons of the African continent.
Earlier in his remarks, Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, expressed regrets that the Centre for Advanced Social Sciences (CASS), Port Harcourt, established by late Ake had not been revived more than two years after he gave a directive to that effect.
Amaechi, who stated that the late professor of Political Science had a complex mind while alive, said the revival of CASS would be for the benefit of the people of the state.
Amaechi also announced that the State would endow a professorial chair on Political Economy at the University of Port Harcourt in memory of the late Ake.
He also said the state government would embark of the construction of more libraries in the state capital, so as to encourage the residents to develop a reading culture.