Let’s Shift Conversation to Our Multidimensional Poverty

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Ring True

with Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

It’s time to shift conversation from mundane things to development issues. Enough of corruption war noise, Buhari’s illness, Biafra and restructuring. Let’s tackle our governments at all levels for lacking in service delivery to Nigerians, particularly in the last 37 years, which has resulted in what experts define as multidimensional poverty in our dear nation. This encompasses a range of deprivations that households suffer across Nigeria. It includes lack of access to quality public education, public health facilities, housing deficit, hunger, disease, lack of empowerment, constant humiliation, decrepit roads, unemployment, insecurity, high infant and maternal mortality and more. Our governments have continued to inflict all these on hapless Nigerians.

In Lagos, Imo, Kaduna, Kano and many states across the nation, 99% of households struggle to access their homes because inner roads are in a mess. Yet, we have people claiming to be state governors and local government chairmen in these states. Many lack access to ordinary things like public water supply in these states. I can clearly recollect that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said that Lagos State was battling with a shortage of 510 million gallons of water supply on a daily basis. He said instead of 720 million gallons needed by the citizenry daily, the government was able to provide only 210 million gallons. So, what has Ambode done in the last two years to reduce this huge deficit? What did previous governments in the state do after the departure of Jakande to ameliorate this agony inflicted on our borehole generation?
Reports on Nigeria by international agencies paint gory pictures of the situation of this country; yet, those in government have failed to respond appropriately. Just on Tuesday it emerged that Nigeria now has the highest number of under-immunised children in the world, displacing India with over one billion population which hitherto occupied the uninspiring spot. This is according to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations.

A recent United Nations report described Nigeria as one of the poorest and unequal country in the world, with over 80 million of her population living below poverty line. The report made public during a consultative meeting on the formulation of the UN Development Assistance Framework IV for the South-east painted a dismal picture, reporting that most of the social indices and development in our country are below acceptable standards.

The UN remarked: “Nigeria has 64 per cent of her population living below poverty line. The situation has not changed over the decades, but increasing. Poverty and hunger have remained high and these cut across the six geo-political zones, with prevalence ranging from approximately 46.9 per cent in the South-west to 74.3 per cent in  the North-west and North-east. Youth unemployment which is 42% in 2016 is very high, creating poverty, helplessness and despair and easy target for crime and terrorism.  Over 10 million children of school age are out of schools with no knowledge and skills.”

An “Inequality Report” released by Oxfam International on Nigeria last month reiterated the large and growing gap between the rich and the poor in our country and estimated that more than 112 million people are living in poverty in this country: “Nigeria is one of the few countries where the number of people living in poverty is on the increase despite the growth of the economy. About 69 per cent of people now live below the poverty line in North-eastern states, compared to the 49 per cent in the South-west.
“Despite being Africa’s biggest economy, the share of the national budget allocated to education, health and social protection is one of the lowest in the region. In 2012, Nigeria spent just 6.5 per cent of its national budget on education and just 3.5 per cent on health. By comparison, Ghana spent 18.5 per cent and 12.8 per cent, respectively in 2015. As a result, 57 million Nigerians lack safe water, over 130 million lack adequate sanitation and the country has more than 10 million children out of school.“

The biggest danger this country is facing today in this fight against multidimensional poverty is that a large chunk of followers are ignorant of their rights. Many are too timid to challenge their leaders to provide basic infrastructure. They are too timorous to challenge them to deliver on their electoral promises. Some silly ones even make excuses for the failings of their leaders. This is poverty of the brain. We may never get out of our multidimensional poverty if we continue like this. We must shift focus to our multidimensional poverty and force our leaders to act appropriately.

El-Rufai Vs Inuwa Abdulkadir
The All Progressives Congress in Kaduna State is in tatters. The power tussle is becoming intense and the biggest victim is Inuwa Abdulkadir, the North-west Vice Chairman of the party who owns a house in the state. His residence located on Yakubu Avenue, near Bafra Hotel was partly demolished some weeks back allegedly on the orders of Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i. The Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority backed by the police partly demolished the four-bedroom duplex. Abdulkadir insists that the governor had sometimes back threatened to take such action against him. The APC chieftain said El-Rufa’i made the threat in the presence of six other governors from the North-west. Abdulkadir and El-Rufa’i had been having running battle over the crisis in the Kaduna APC. The North-west office of the party had quashed the suspension of Senator Shehu Sani and asked officials of the party loyal to El-Rufa’i to abide by the directive.

The battle in court now is over the legality of Shuaibu Idris Lauje as the new Chairman of the party in Kaduna State. When the former chairman, Barnabas Bantex was elected Deputy Governor of the state, his erstwhile deputy, Danlami Wada stepped in as the acting chairman according to the party’s constitution. Trouble however started when Lauje, who is enjoying the support of El-Rufai, started parading himself as the state chairman of the party while Wada was locked out, allegedly on the orders of the state governor. Lauje eventually took over the secretariat, forcing Wada to approach the court.

El-Rufai is clearly at war with virtually everybody. His supremacy battle with Senator Sani is still raging. Abdulkadir is in court, asking for N120 million in actual damages and N500 million in general damages for his demolished building. He says he has all the approvals for the building and that he was targeted by El-Rufai over his stance on the Kaduna APC crisis. Wada is in court over his chairmanship. One would have expected some decorum from politicians who claim to be progressives, but this has not been the case in Kaduna State. The key actors are battling for the soul of the state, largely for selfish interest. This is the change the good people of Kaduna voted for.

Our Impotent Federal Character Commission
The Federal Character Commission as constituted today, under the leadership of Shettima Abba is incapable of ensuring that federal character is reflected in federal ministries, departments and agencies. This is my humble submission on Abba and his team, particularly after reviewing the activities of the agency in relation to the 2016 lopsided recruitment into the Department of State Security. A responsible government ought to have fired this incompetent team at FCC. I am shocked that it did not happen. Abba and his team should be courageous enough to resign in view of their obvious incompetence. Rather than carrying out a forensic audit at the DSS, the FCC has simply issued an ultimatum to the security agency, to come and explain the lopsided recruitment. In fact, Abba gave the DSS a cantankerous three-month ultimatum. A whole three months to do what? It is an obvious fact that the DSS in 2016 recruited 51 persons from Katsina State alone, more than what all the states in the South-east got, contrary to section 14 (3) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

On the one hand, my dear Abba, who admits to be unaware of the current nominal roll of the DSS, said in an interview last month that he believed it might be a corrective measure. On the other hand, this same Abba said that he had written to the DSS to provide justification for the lopsided appointments. The FCC Chairman had reached a conclusion, even before the arrival of the DSS report. Abba and his team were not even aware of the cockeyed recruitment in the DSS until the media drew attention to it. This country needs a proactive Federal Character Commission. Buhari must rejig the FCC and its leadership to ensure justice and equity in recruitments into our ministries, departments and agencies. This is one of the ways of reducing agitations in our nation.

Musiliu Obanikoro’s Comical Defection
I nearly cracked my ribs with laughter on Tuesday while reading the tweets of the former minister of state for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro on his obvious defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The tweets were in reaction to Senator Oluremi Tinubu’s statement that Obanikoro was back home when he attended a town hall meeting organised by her. Obanikoro tweeted: “My attendance has been insinuated wrongly in the media but all such speculations remain firmly in the realm of rumours and imaginations. I commend Senator Remi Tinubu once again as I continue to consult with my political associates and friends in Lagos, and also across Nigeria. Whatever the future holds politically for us, it will be openly done by us and seen by all but right now, please disregard those rumours.”

Koro’s heart and soul is already with the APC. He is always hanging around Bola Tinubu. Just watch out. In a few weeks, he will make a formal announcement and come up with humdrum reasons for dumping the PDP. These bread and butter politicians never cease to amaze me. Real men don’t run away when their house is on fire. For the likes of Obanikoro, it’s not about ideology but the next meal ticket; and of course, a haven to deflect pressure from anti-corruption agencies. Politics of ideology took a flight from our dear nation a long time ago. Koro knows the difference between a Progressive and a Conservative, but his belly supersedes. Today, he’s a progressive and before you know it, he’s flying the flag of conservatives. It’s all about his stomach. This country can’t make progress with people like these. Obviously, Obanikoro can’t be trusted. I am surprised that he is the only one unaware of this. This is why he is dreaming of the Lagos Central senatorial ticket. Tinubu is clearly enjoying the Obanikoro soap opera. The Asiwaju that I know can’t be twice deceived. He discerns the real progressives in Lagos. He knows those with electoral value in Lagos Central.

The Agony of Nasarawa Civil Servants
Who will save Nasarawa State civil servants from anguish? These workers and their families have been going through hardship in the last two years because of irregular payment of salaries and other entitlements, with backlog running into several months. The seething workers have been on strike for several weeks without result. They say they spent the Ramadan month breaking fast with water. The workers began an indefinite strike on May 12 to press home their demands. Governor Tanko Al-Makura is unperturbed by the suffering of these star-crossed workers. He seems more interested in his own security vote. The NLC and TUC at the national level must step in to save these unfortunate Nigerians from the pangs of Al-Makura.