Poverty has remained endemic in Nigeria. The absence of the three basic needs of man, food, health and shelter culminates in extreme poverty. Ironically, these are also the three primary responsibilities of government. Successive governments in Nigeria have overtime played lip service to the issue of eradicating poverty. This perhaps, is the reason Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world, overthrowing India.
The June, 2019 report of the United Nations Development Program has it that over 98 million Nigerians are multi dimensionally poor, although the National Bureau of Statistics puts the figure at over 91 million in their April, 2019 report. The figure rose to over 94 million people in the October, 2019 report of the same NBS. This latest report of the NBS indicates that an additional nearly 3 million Nigerians joined the league of extremely poor people just in six months.
Although, one may wish to rely on the figures of these agencies, the reality on ground suggest that the figures may be higher. This is scary. And government seems to be bereft of ideas on how to go around the solution. With the present realities staring in the face and the proposed increase in VAT, one wonders if the federal government is not involved in pure sorcery in her bogus claim to lift one million Nigerians out of poverty by 2023.
Rather, the current reality confirms the widespread report that 25% of the world’s extreme poor people will be living in Nigeria by 2030.
It is on the heels of this development that one needs to commend the efforts of the member representing Ikeduru State Constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly, Amb. Uche Ogbuagu in his determined efforts to reduce extreme poverty in his constituency through quality representation. The product of his activities in barely five months of his inauguration has proven that it is not rocket science to fight poverty. It only takes courage, love for the people and sacrifice.
He has also shown that you do not need to be the president to make meaningful impact in the lives of the people, especially people that trusted you so much to the point of giving you their mandate to represent them. Even a ward counsellor can engender change.
A chinese proverb said, “the man who moves mountain begins by carrying away small stones”. The small stones Amb. Uche Ogbuagu is carrying out today in Ikeduru is indeed creating a new feeling among the people. The people are beginning to feel the presence of government. They are beginning to trust their representatives. Meghan O’Rourke penned, “all love stories are tales of beginnings. When we talk about falling in love, we go to the beginning to pinpoint the moment of freefall”. It is only love and freefall that can explain the patrotism and sincerity Amb. Uche Ogbuagu has brought to bear in his position as a representative of the people.
Amb. Ogbuagu has deliberately engaged in intervention projects that are capable of reducing poverty in his constituency. He has identified education, commerce, sports, electricity, roads, etc as areas that needs attention in order to lift the people out of poverty. This task seems huge for a state legislator, but Amb. Uche Ogbuagu has decided to take the bull by the horn.
For example, he has commenced the reconstruction of major markets in Ikeduru to boost commerce in the constituency. Markets like Orie Akabo, Nkwo Amaimo and Orie Okwu have been reconstructed, while arrangements have been completed to commence reconstruction work at Eke Atta, Orie Umueze and Orie Ngugo markets. The import of this markets revolution is that it will once again trigger small holder business interest among the people and help to fight poverty.
Ikeduru is prime to be major producers of quality red oil, top notch cassava and fresh and tasty palm wine. What this means is that more people can now go into these trades as a source of livelihood because of the comforts and attractions of the markets, while buyers from outside the constituency can now locate an actual place to get their demands.
Some markets in Ikeduru like Nkwo Imo, Eke Atta, Afor Uzoagba, etc, are historic markets. They had served as meeting points between buyers and sellers in Ikeduru and her neighbours, as well as provided a platform for the generation of income for parents to train their children. The nostalgic feelings and income generation potentials Amb. Ogbuagu is bringing back is tremendous, while the socio economic multiplier effects are unlimited.
His words at the commissioning of the modernised Orie Akabo market captures the feelings, “commerce has been the bedrock of our economy in Ikeduru. We have commissioned the modernized Orie Akabo market, and we have just mobilized contractors to reconstruct the Orie Okwu and Nkwo Imo markets with modern abattoir and borehole facilities. Our people shall be proud to do their trademark businesses and our economy will blossom once again”. This is the mind of a sincere leader that is committed to lift his people out of poverty.
Amb. Uche Ogbuagu has made similar impact in the area of education in just five months of his representation. He has built and tastefully furnished a five classroom block he dedicated to the memory of late Rt. Hon Bethel Amadi at Akabo High school. He has also within the same period constructed a modern lavatory with borehole facility at Comprehensive Secondary school Ngugo. Hear him at the commissioning of the classroom block at Akabo, “we cannot continue to politicize the issues of education, but we shall take concrete steps to make education in Ikeduru attractive and qualitative as the only way to achieve technological advancement that will drive our development”.
It is only a massive investment in education that can substantially lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty. Netherlands and Finland are doing it and they are reaping the fruit of their deliberate action. Crime rate in these two coutries are almost at zero level as a result of their investments in education. As we speak, Netherlands and Finland are closing down their correctional facilities as a result of lack of inmates. It is almost old fashioned to commit crime in these countries, and this is consequent upon their commitment to invest in education.
Amb. Ogbuagu has also donated a 500kva transformer to Iho community, and is reconstructing the Ikeduru stadium with an expansive airconditioned three room dressing room with individual player wardrope and toilet facility, one storey airconditioned VIP stand with press gallery and private convenience, covered spectators stand, a four room public convenience and a borehole facility.
The beauty of Amb. Uche Ogbuagu’s intervention projects is that they have direct impacts on the lives of people and have the potentials to lift many of his Ikeduru constituents out of poverty.
It is therefore instructive to suggest that these actions of Amb. Ogbuagu should stir up healthy competition among elected and appointed government officials for the overall interest of the citizens. The task to lift Nigerians out of poverty demands sincere and pragmatic steps and not wishy washy rhetorics. Amb. Uche Ogbuagu has shown the way, let others follow.