Shuaibu Idris (MIKATI)

WHAT HAS BEEN SUSTAINING POVERTY AND ILLITERACY?

1- Governance: Effects- Focused Solutions.

For us to understand the underlying forces it will be pertinent to start from first principle. No responsible government will sit idly by and watch its people devastated by the challenges of survival. Fortunately, we have always had responsive administrations. In the usual tradition of a caring government, successive administrations executed public-spirited projects enough to eradicate deprivations but unfortunately, effects have no solutions.

For every deprivation, programmes and campaigns are rolled out in breath taking numbers to address them. Examples could help to buttress the point viz.

HUNGER: OFN, Green Revolution, Fertilizer distribution, Food silos, Abolishing of Commodity Boards, etc

DISEASE: Free Immunization, Inoculation, ORT, Condom, etc.

IGNORANCE: Mass literacy campaigns, UPE, UBE, Scholarship Schemes etc

IDLENESS: Peoples Bank, DFRRI, National Directorate of employment, FEAP, NAPEP, SMEDAN, Government Downsizing etc

DESTITUTION: Shelter for All campaigns, National Housing Scheme, Rehabilitation Centers, etc.

Problems have solutions but consequences are there for us to live with, (or so some think) yet they are not fate. That explains why the people are still in dire need in spite of all the efforts of successive administrations.

2- Governance: Entrenched Problem-Avoidance Political Values

Since the targeted problems are mere effects not the causes, the situation worsens. Being a public-spirited government, this increasing cycle of misery keeps it perpetually busy providing one thing or the other. This casts the government in the role of Father Christmas ever launching and commissioning projects to bail the people out of their endless problems. A giver/taker relationship is established along with the appropriate values to continuously focus the attention of government on managing the problems not solving them.

What are those values?

a- RULERSHIP Not leadership

b- LOYALTY Not knowledge, creativity and enterprise

c- CHARITY {Provide, Provide} Not empowerment & self reliance

d- PROBLEM AVOIDANCE Not problem solving

e- REACTIVE Not proactive.

3- Governance

Neglect of the Operating Environment With the problems left to fend for themselves, unsolved, unattended to and uncared for, they then metamorphose and transform into a hydra-headed monster that has rendered the state unsafe and unattractive for sympathizers to come to its rescue. Hence the SLIDE into misery.

Stagnation in Growth and Modernization of Agriculture

Low Capital Formation (absence of FDI)

Inadequate and unreliable infrastructure

Decayed and Dysfunctional Education

Ethno-Religious Crises

Stagnation in the growth and modernization of agriculture. The products of our reputable research institutes are rarely disseminated for the benefit of the farmers. Similarly critical inputs rarely reach the people at the time most required. All season activities such as Bee growing, fish farming, piggery etc with huge income generating potentials are yet to be popularized among the people for adoption.

Low capital formation. The state has not attracted new investments over the years and most of the old factories either have closed down or are operating at ridiculously low capacity. In fact what we have in our hands is a typical negative capital formation situation and our historical attempts at industrialization face the risk of imminent collapse. The cultural industry with huge potential is yet to embrace the new enterprise spirit that gave birth to ‘Obalende Suya’ in London and New York. Thanks to our brothers in the South West for opening up global opportunities for our heritage. Any in Lebanon? Saudi Arabia, Egypt? or even Togo, Ghana, Niger?

Inadequate and Unreliable infrastructure. Successive administrations of this state and the current government in particular has made commendable progress in the areas of social and physical, infrastructural development.

The rate of growth, however, still lags far behind the increasing demands of a rapidly growing population and the potentials of the formal sector. The present stock is not only inadequate but is highly unreliable. For instance technology infrastructure is non- existent while Power Supply and Energy are perpetually in a state of crises.

Decayed and Dysfunctional Educational System. Our workforce building institutions have lost ability to produce skills relevant to today’s businesses due to neglect.

Consequently, we have a large pool of idle human capacity with unemployable skills annually replenished by young school leavers and university graduates with training that is grossly irrelevant to the needs of industry. In addition, we have armies of untrained adults as well as youths who are mostly products of the highly ubiquitous informal Religious schools that are yet to incorporate skill acquisition into their curricular. Is there any wonder why poverty and illiteracy reign supreme in the state?

Ethno Religious crises. Public and investment safety cannot be guaranteed in a fragile and unpredictable political environment. The fundamental issues of mutual respect for cultural differences and autonomy need to be sincerely addressed and resolved finally to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. The current approach is too cosmetic to entrench a lasting peace. Any solution without providing engagement for the armies of our youth would not and cannot last long. It would remain temporal.

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