Sunday, 10 March 2013

U-Report: Gov, Minister, National Assembly members, CSOs Hold Dialogue On Poverty

Report By: Tunde Aremu

A state governor, Peter Obi, the Minister for National Planning, members of the national assembly, heads of government parastatals with mandate to address poverty and activists will on Tuesday, March 12 gather at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja for a high level national policy dialogue on poverty.

According to the organizers of the National Dialogue on Poverty, ActionAid Nigeria, “the dialogue is organized in response to the obvious need for a rethink of the current response to poverty in Nigeria”.

As explained by the Policy and Campaigns Manager of ActionAid Nigeria, Tunde Aremu, “the current Nigeria poverty profile, which incidentally is produced by a government agency, has shown that in spite of the many government policies and interventions on poverty, the incidence of poverty in Nigeria has worsened.”

The worsening situation of poverty in the country, according to Aremu is a paradox given the fact that “In the last quarter of 2012, Nigeria’s GDP growth rate was put at 7.1 per cent. This is a feet none of the top economies in the world achieved at that time. In spite of its wealth, infant and maternal mortality index in the Nigeria is among the poorest in the world”

This situation according to the anti-poverty agency though may not be as a result of lack of will on the part of government and its agencies to address the state of poverty in the nation, there is still an urgent need for a critical look at interventions currently in place.

According to Aremu, “No doubt a lot of progress have been made in terms of development in the country, but it is important that there is an appreciation of the level of progress if the country must meet the goals of the MDGs and in a broader context achieve its Vision 20 2020.”

The poverty dialogues according to ActionAid is therefore organised to “take a critical and result-driven look at the issue of failure of several interventions in poverty eradication and development in general.

“It will also build consensus on what should constitute the appropriate strategy to deal with poverty in the country, while providing a platform for discourse on the challenges and realization of the MDGs as it still presents one of the most encompassing framework for development”

The poverty dialogue will take the format of a public discourse. The discourse is to be led by a well respected international specialist, Professor Adebayo Olukoshi, the Director of the UN African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP) whose views on poverty and poverty eradication subjects are well respected.

(Aremu Is The Policy Advocacy and Campaigns Manager Of ActionAid Nigeria. He can be reached on:Tel:+234 (0) 812 8888 825-7 | Mob: +234 (0) 802 318 0493
Skype: taremu

News Release: Afenifere Wants Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Rebuilt Not Patched!

Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

Afenifere has noted with concern the on-going resurfacing work along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway as against the hope of rebuilding what has become an "open grave" that was taken from Bi-Courtney  a few months back.
Motorists and travelers have faced untold hardship on this road built close to 40 years ago with engineering designs  of a road pavement with an asphalt layer as road surface and crushed granite layer above laterite soil under.But the benign culture of corruption in Nigeria then ensured that the road was built without the crushed granite layer which led to uneven.broken and corrugated surface within few years of use.
The culture of corruption has become a full-blown cancer over the years with billions of Naira budgeted every now and then ending in the pockets of corrupt officials with the attendant consequence of daily deaths on the trap.
Were Nigeria a country with functional statistics,it would have been easier to compare the casualty figures on this road with number of lives lost in major wars in human experience in recent times.
It was therefore with great sigh of relief that users of the major route for most travelers out of Lagos to all parts of the country received the news of   the  concession of the road by Yara'adua government in 2009  after Obasanjo"s eight years in office left the road in virtual disrepair.
The chairman of Bi-Coutney,Dr Wale Babalakin further sugar bamboozled the unwary when he promised in 2009 that,"The primary objective of the proposed rehabilitation and modernization project is to unlock the economic potentials of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by redeveloping it to efficiently carry available traffic demand.And in the process create a world class infrastructure that will be the pride of all Nigerians and a reference point"
"The road would boast of dawn lightening powered by a gas fired plant,improved and new interchanges,new drainage system,recessed service area,lay-back parking area,footbridges in heavy pedestrian area,weigh bridges,electronic traffic control  and  informative   signs"
By the time the concession was terminated almost four years after ,Bi-Courtney left the road as a shame to all Nigerians and a sore-point.
Hope was rekindled with the Federal Government announcement that the road was to be rebuilt by Julius Berger PLC and RCC Nigeria Limited and both  firms moving to site immediately.
This was dashed again as they vacated site after some days and information coming to the public that there was no contract between the Federal Government and the firms.
The duo later returned to site albeit  with a contract to patch the road as against the reconstruction expected.Julius Berger has since finished its own portion while RCC is still engaged in its own patch work.
While Afenifere concedes that what has been done is an improvement on the irresponsible neglect of the road by Obasanjo,we insist that mere patchwork is too token on such a major road that has claimed uncountable lives.
We are further disturbed by the announcement by the Works Minister,Mr Mike Onolememen  that reconstruction design has been submitted to his office.
The question to ask is whether there was no design for the road over the years and including the period of phantom concession.
Given what we know of government in Nigeria,approving the design  may not be completed till the end of the life of this administration.
We insist that the repair being carried out is not sufficient .We ask for a rebuilt road with six lanes on each of the northbound and  southbound carriages between the interchange at Ojota in Lagos and the Sagamu   interchange  from where it should continue with four lanes on each side to Ojoo in Ibadan.
Anything short of the above is a waste of time!

Yinka Odumakin.
National Publicity Secretary.
Afenifere .

Photonews: Inside The Sistine Chapel

The Inside Of Sistine Chapel. Photo Credit: Holy See Press Office

Photonews: Obasanjo Thumb-Printing For Driver's License

Former President Obasanjo Thumb-Printing For A Driver's License At FRSC Headquarters In Abuja