Emancipating and empowering the girl child

All for one, One for all

THERE is no perfect tool for future development in a nation more than empowering the girl child today. It’s certainly noon for some, dusk for some others, but for the girl child, it is, but a golden dawn, the birth of a new beginning. So, “it’s imperative we begin the search for the black goat before nightfall.”
The Female gender has been marginalized for so long Inequality is undoubtedly so entrenched in our society. The truth is, when the girl child is empowered everybody benefits, because she is the mother of tomorrow. She carries in her womb the continuity of the human race.
Having the right charismatic mentor instill in the girl child the spirit of self confidence, bravery, assertiveness, respect for her body; not giving in to casual sexual desires, knowledge on the importance of education, and make her gain as much information as needed to empower her, should be our utmost priority.
We need to really take decisive and proactive measures to bringing the girl child to a level playing field with the boy child. Gone are the days when women were consigned to the kitchen and taught culinary arts and men pleasing. The gospel of the paradigm shift in the position of the female gender should be carried to our rural communities where the cloak of nescience and back- ward traditional beliefs still hold sway.
The importance of investing in the girl child cannot be overemphasized and should be clearly understood by everyone.

A good degree of work has been done by the government in the area of skill acquisition: catering, tailoring, hairdressing, soap making, etc. It’s time to step up a bit to the IT world where there are vast and even more dynamic systems that will further empower the girl child to meet up with the ever growing world of affairs. Government should provide attendant facilities in the rural areas to this effect. The vast array of potentials that we will be harnessing and unleashing to the society when most of these girl children, who would have been condemned to mere rustic existence become exposed to knowledge and information on a global scale will boggle the mind. I’m very sure that this present leaders have the right political will and uncluttered vision to see the world from a different perspective.
While the focus is on the girl child, it must be noted that whatever gains we hope to achieve in fostering an egalitarian society will be rubbished if the boy child is groomed with a skewed concept of the place of his opposite number in the society. The boy child should be raised with the belief that all people, irrespective of gender, are in principle equal and should enjoy equal social, political and economic rights and opportunities in our society. That is the egalitarian mentality.
The boy child should be tutored to appreciate the girl child as worthy partner in all areas of life, not as underling. They should be taught that they can work in harmony in bringing up a better society. They should also not harbor negative notions about the female gender in the area of rape and other viles. Girls should be respected.
I believe that the degradation- as a result of decades of repression-caused by constraining the girl child to adhere slavishly to selfish traditional rules will only be repaid as soon as a structured framework on the girl child’s right of inheritance is passed into law in the South Eastern states and the issue of bride price is addressed accordingly. Traditions are set values for human well- being in the society, but even if traditional value translates injustice into a norm, in time, it will still be revealed as injustice. Our duty is to do our bit to restore the dignity of humanity where such has been trampled in the sewer of base minds as what is happening to the girl child.
The truth is, the emancipation of the Girl Child is so active in the cities/urban areas, but conversely, little or nothing is being done in the hinterland/villages where tradition has transformed the men into gods and the female gender to slaves even though they have no chains around their feet.
If our leaders will summon their godly will and give a positive resolution to the issues of the girl child rights and freedom, they will be providing the means for her to stand up against exploitative and humiliating situations and claim her rights. It will also help in blossoming her traditionally hidden potentials and restore her self-confidence in her home and the society at large, and our leaders will be honored in generations to come as the pillars of the Crusade for the girl child’s emancipation.
My proposition is not an imposition but an appeal for fair play and equity. Liberating the girl child from the shackles of manmade rules and tradition, which are at variance with the tenets of truth and wisdom is a duty we are called upon to perform today. The tradition of enthralling and disinheriting the girl child were made a long time ago by men who dies, just to satisfy some selfish and parochial interests, not by God. Equality, fairness, justice, freedom and love are the total fulcrum of the message of truth. We know that such obnoxious traditions and practices should have no place in a modern society that stands for equity and justice.
Any value that supports enslavement, injustice, deprivation and inequality on ac- count of gender, color, race or creed is decrepit, obnoxious, obsolete, backward and reactionary and should be stopped.
Tradition is good but when it’s used as a tool of oppression, it becomes perverse and must be abrogated. “I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.”
Credit: Ada Chinyere Cummings   Source:

By admin, ago

Poverty Eradication Efforts in Nigeria

All for one, One for all

Successive regimes in Nigeria have tried different policies and programmers geared towards reducing the level of poverty in the society through a number of ways.  First, through the activities of its ministries/agencies; second, by collaborating with international agencies; third, and more importantly, through the establishment of agencies equipped solely to fight rising poverty and unemployment in Nigeria.

The Joda Panel, established at the inception of the civilian administration of Obasanjo to review the various poverty eradication programmers of the previous regimes, identified over twenty such institutions.  They are:
i.                 The National Directorate of Employment (NDE)
ii.                Peoples Bank of Nigeria (PBN)
iii.               Nigerian Agricultural and Cooperative Bank Ltd (NACB)
iv.               Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC)
v.                 National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE)
vi.               National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)
vii.              National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA)
viii.             National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education
ix.                Federal Agricultural Coordinating Unit (FACU)
x.                 Directorate for Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructures (DFFRI)
xi.                Agricultural Projects Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (APMEU)
xii.               Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP)
xiii.              Industrial Development Centre (IDC)
xiv.              Federal Department of Rural Development (FDRD)
xv.               Federal Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources and Power and Steel
xvi.              River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs)
xvii.             Family Support Trust Fund (FSTF)
xviii.           National Centre for Women Development (CWD)
xix.             Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry (NBCI)
xx.              Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (NIDB)
xxi.             Nigerian Export-Import Bank
xxii.            National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND)
Perhaps a note on some of these institutions and programmes may be useful especially when some of them were designed to deal with the problems of poverty directly while others do it indirectly.
The River Basin Development Authorities established by Decree 37 of August 1976 is one of the earliest attempt at combating poverty via improved agricultural production.  The main objective of the RBDAs is the economic exploitation and management of the land water resources of their respective areas of operation with particular but varying emphasis on the development of agriculture, fishing, human settlement, infrastructural facilities and industry as well as the improvement of their environment.
The Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) enunciated in 1979 by Gen. Obasanjo’s military regime is another indirect effort at poverty eradication.  The program had the specific focus of increasing food production on the premise that availability of cheap food will raise the nutritional level of the ordinary Nigerian and invariably lead to high per capita income and improved standard of living.  OFN lasted until Shagari’s civilian government (1979-83) took over.

The Shagari’s regime shared almost the same poverty reduction with the preceeding military regime.  It came up with Green Revolution project, which also emphasised food production.  To this one may also add the Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructures (DFRRI) introduced by the Babangida administration (1985-92).  DFRRI sought to open up rural areas via construction of feeder roads and provision of basic amenities that would turn them into production centres for the national economy.
The establishment of National Directorate of Employment (NDE) is certainly one of the indirect measures taken by the government to attack poverty in the society via creation of employment opportunities.
The National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) was established in 2001, with the goal of eliminating “core” poverty over the next ten years.  NAPEP evolved four core schemes:
i.                    Women and Youth Employment Scheme.  This is essentially a training and skill acquisition scheme.
ii.                  Social Welfare Service Scheme: This scheme undertakes the provision of acceptable levels of education, health, micro-credit services, etc.
iii.                Rural Infrastructural Development Scheme:  This is to address provision of rural infrastructure services such as portable water, roads, transport, grazing reserves, etc.
iv.                 Natural Resources Development and Conservation:  This entails government intervening by creating enabling and acceptable environment for harnessing the agricultural water, solid mineral resources, etc for convenient and effective use by the small-scale operators and local residents.
Whether these programmes and policies have succeeded in either reducing poverty or not is mute point.

By admin, ago

Rural poverty in Nigeria

All for one, One for all

The Federal Republic of Nigeria has a population of more than 160 million – the largest in Africa – and a fast-growing economy. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, contributing about 40 per cent of GDP. The agriculture sector employs approximately two-thirds of the country's total labour force and provides a livelihood for about 90 per cent of the rural population. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava, yam and cowpea – all staple foods in sub-Saharan Africa. It is also a major producer of fish. Yet it is a food-deficit nation and imports large amounts of grain, livestock products and fish.

Nigeria's huge agricultural resource base offers great potential for growth. Recent government policies have started to show results: The agricultural sector reportedly grew by 7 per cent a year between 2003 and 2007, and at a slightly lower rate in recent years.
Still, the area of land under cultivation could be doubled. Of an estimated 71 million hectares of arable land, only about half is presently under production. And there is substantial scope for an increase in irrigation, which now covers only 7 per cent of irrigable land. Irrigation and other inputs would substantially increase average yields for major staple crops, which are below those in other developing countries.
Despite Nigeria's plentiful agricultural resources and oil wealth, poverty is widespread in the country and has increased since the late 1990s. Some 70 per cent of Nigerians live on less than US$1.25 a day.
Poverty is especially severe in rural areas, where up to 80 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line, and social services and infrastructure are limited. The country's poor rural women and men depend on agriculture for food and income. About 90 per cent of Nigeria's food is produced by small-scale farmers who cultivate small plots of land and depend on rainfall rather than irrigation systems.
The poorest groups eke out a subsistence living but often go short of food, particularly during the pre-harvest period. The productivity of the rural population is also hindered by ill health, particularly HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Women play a major role in the production, processing and marketing of food crops. Yet women and households headed solely by women are often the most chronically poor members of rural communities. Men have higher social status and, as a result, more access to schooling and training. In recent decades, the number of men migrating from rural areas in search of employment has increased, and the number of households headed solely by women has grown substantially.  
Rural infrastructure in Nigeria has long been neglected. Investments in health, education and water supply have been focused largely on the cities. As a result, the rural population has extremely limited access to services such as schools and health centres, and about half of the population lacks access to safe drinking water.
Neglect of rural infrastructure affects the profitability of agricultural production. The lack of rural roads impedes the marketing of agricultural commodities, prevents farmers from selling their produce at reasonable prices, and leads to spoilage. Limited accessibility cuts small-scale farmers off from sources of inputs, equipment and new technology, and this keeps yields low.
As the population swells and puts pressure on diminishing resources, escalating environmental problems further threaten food production. Land degradation as a result of extensive agriculture, deforestation and overgrazing are already severe in many parts of the country. Drought has become common in the north, and erosion caused by heavy rains, floods and oil pollution is a major problem in the south and south-east.
Civil unrest also aggravates poverty. Religious and ethnic tensions continue to brew in different parts of Nigeria, erupting into outbreaks of violence and leading, in turn, to escalating poverty and malnutrition.
Credit: IFAD   Source:

By admin, ago