Rivers State Summit on Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction

Rivers State Summit on Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction

Rivers State Summit on Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction

Narrative Report

July 17- 18, 2013

 

Contents

Executive Summary. 2

Background. 5

Introduction to the Summit 6

Summit Objectives. 6

Thematic Areas. 7

Participants. 7

Official Opening. 8

Syndicate Sessions 1-3. 14

Group 1: Agricultural transformation and food security. 14

Group 2: MSME and Entrepreneurship development 16

Group 3: Gender Mainstreaming and Adult Literacy: The New Frontier 19

Plenary Two: Presentation and Discussion of Syndicate session reports. 21

Keynote presentation: The Context of Job Creation. 21

Plenary 3: Keynote presentations. 25

Syndicate sessions 4-6. 29

Group 4: Access, participation and attitude. 29

Group 5: Job Creation and Employment 31

Group 6: Social Security Safety Nets. 34

Plenary 4: Presentation and Discussion of syndicate session reports. 38

Closing Plenary: Developing an effective and comprehensive framework for wealth creation and poverty reduction. 40

Towards a Strategy. 43

Recommendations. 43

Annexes. 44

 

 

 

 

 

Acronyms

ADP                       – Agricultural Development Programme

GDP                      – Gross Domestic Product

ICT                        – Information and Communication Technology

MDA                      – Ministries, Departments and Agencies

MDGs                    – Millennium Development Goals

MSME                    – Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

NAFDAC                – National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control

NEPAD                  – New Partnership for Africa’s Development

NEPAD Rivers        – Office of the Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on NEPAD

NGO                      – Non-Governmental Organisation

OFN                      – Operation Feed the Nation

PJS                        – Preferential Job Scheme

RivSEEDS              – Rivers State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy

RS                         – Rivers State

RSSDA                  – Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency

SME                      – Small and Medium Enterprises

UNESCO                – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

USA                       – United States of America

USD                      – United States Dollars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Executive Summary

The Rivers State Summit on Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction, a joint initiative of the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency and the office of the Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on NEPAD, was held July 17-18, 2013 under the theme: ‘Developing an Effective Comprehensive Framework for Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction in Rivers State.’

 

The Summit brought together key stakeholders within government, the private sector and development partners to, among others, discuss the challenges of poverty, unemployment and food security, and develop sustainable pathways towards addressing these challenges and improving livelihoods in Rivers State. High-level national and international speakers made presentations at the summit, which included their experiences and best practices in the provision of micro-finance, development of small and medium scale enterprises, agricultural development, renewable energy and the role of information and communications technology.

 

The summit adopted an inclusive approach, ensuring critical engagement and discussion across all sessions which included plenaries, break-out syndicate group sessions, keynote presentations and panel discussions. Across each of these sessions, participant feedback was provided and discussed in a bid to identify major recommendations which could be taken forward for implementation.

 

Major recommendations for action made at the summit include the following:

  1. There is a need to invest in technical and vocational education and training as a means to create jobs for young people thereby creating wealth. Particular reference was made to the development of needs based training and alignment of training to existing social expectations of prestige by creating executive vocational training courses;
  2. Provision of low interest rates micro-finance loans linked to skills training, in order to support the development of small and medium scale enterprises;
  3. It is important to create an enabling environment that will address the challenges associated with the operating environment which affect small and medium sized businesses;
  4. Investment in renewable energies, both as an avenue for wealth creation and as a means to garner the benefits of the emerging global economy should be encouraged.
  5. There should be Provision for social services to support the most vulnerable in the society.
  6. The government and investors should adopt innovative approaches to agriculture.

 

The Special Adviser to the Rivers State Government on NEPAD, Dr Tex Wariboko, indicated that the output of the Summit will be translated into an implementable strategy, which will be further improved through an inclusive approach of consultations across the State and expressed the hope that the Strategy will lay the foundation for the needed work towards reducing poverty by 2015 when the current administration in Rivers State will complete its term.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Background

The Government of Rivers State envisions itself becoming a ‘reference point for sustainable development’ in Nigeria and beyond.[1] In pursuing this vision, the government has invested in various human resources and infrastructural development programmes and projects aimed at improving the quality of life of residents and indigenes of the state. Central to these programmes is the government’s investment. These programmes aim at reducing poverty and creating wealth that will guarantee sustainable livelihoods of citizens.

 

The Rivers State Government has in the past invested in the development of various development strategies. Starting with the era of National Development Plans to the more recent Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies, the State Government has put in place strategies to address the challenges of its citizens. As a case in point, the Rivers State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (RivSEEDS, 2004-2007) prioritised employment, wealth creation, poverty reduction and value reorientation. Following the development of the strategy, the State government established the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency, as a vehicle through which it will actualise its goal of improving the wellbeing and quality of life of Rivers State people. This is aptly captured in the slogan of the agency, ‘so no one is left behind.’

 

In spite of these efforts however, a significant proportion of the State’s citizens are still poor. Poverty and unemployment levels remain high in the State, and these challenges could precipitate violence in the State if not addressed.

 

Again, if the state is unable to tackle these challenges, it would lag behind in the attainment of the cardinal objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the Ouagadougou Declaration and Plan on Employment Generation and poverty reduction, among others.

 

In order to address the challenges and advance with the attainment of relevant development goals, the Government needs to articulate a coherent framework for addressing the underlying causes of poverty in the State. Such strategy should address the question of the gap between skills produced by the education system and the requirements of the labour market, transformation and scaling-up the government’s investment in agricultural development, investing in relevant technologies and the challenges faced by micro, small and medium scale enterprises, including multiple taxation and access to capital.

 

Introduction to the Summit

The Rivers State Summit on Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction is a first step in the process towards developing a coherent strategy for poverty reduction and wealth creation in Rivers State. A joint initiative of the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA) and the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD Rivers), the purpose of the summit is to develop a clear path to poverty reduction through the exploration of key thematic areas such as agricultural development, job creation, entrepreneurship and SME development strategies.

 

The focus of the Summit is in keeping with the objectives of the Rivers State Government and the respective Statutory mandates of the RSSDA and NEPAD Rivers and it addressed key issues pertinent to the advancement of these areas. In particular, the mandate of the RSSDA captures the essence of the summit, which is to tackle poverty, improve the livelihoods of rural (or grassroots) citizens and invest in youth empowerment and development.  Furthermore, the summit outcomes present a real opportunity for better coordination of efforts across government Ministries, Departments and agencies (MDAs)

 

Summit Objectives

The objectives of the summit are as follows:

  1. To discuss strategies/initiatives on wealth creation and poverty reduction in Rivers State.
  2. To identify the right paths to tackle poverty in Rivers State.
  3. To develop practical approaches toward integrating knowledge in wealth creation and poverty reduction.
  4. To develop frameworks for implementing identified strategies.
  5. To develop strategies for job creation and SME development.
  6. To discuss Food Security in terms of increased food production and supply.
  7. To identify implications of a safe and conducive business environment for Entrepreneurs.
  8. To build a new generation of farmers with skills, knowledge and technical innovation.
  9. To enhance technological advancement and innovation.
  10. To develop an effective and comprehensive framework for wealth creation and poverty reduction.

Thematic Areas

  • Agricultural transformation and Food security
  • Job Creation and Employment
  • Innovation
  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and Entrepreneurship
  • Gender mainstreaming
  • Participation, access and attitude
  • Social security safety nets

 

Participants

The summit brought together a range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as international development partners from the United Nations System. In addition, there were profile speakers from within and outside Nigeria who presented best practices, lessons learnt from previous and ongoing development initiatives and shared opportunities for progress.

 

 

 

 

Official Opening:

 

Opening Remarks by Mr George Feyii, Secretary to the Government of Rivers State

The summit commenced with opening remarks by Mr George Feyii, the Secretary to the Government of Rivers State. Mr Feyii noted that the Summit was an important priority for the Rivers State Government, noting that enterprise development is an important means of enabling individuals undertake and sustain livelihood activities. He further noted the need to tackle the challenge of poverty through empowerment and the need to adopt approaches that ensure individuals have a steady stream of income that accrues to them on a sustainable basis. According to Mr Feyii, the active engagement of citizens in economic activities is the only viable means of creating wealth. He therefore enjoined the participants to pay attention to the experts’ presentations and expressed hope that the summit will lead to renewed commitment to Rivers State Government’s poverty reduction and wealth creation programmes.

 

Remarks by Dr. Alex Oti

The Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank Mr Alex Oti, who is one of the strategic partners of the Summit, welcomed participants. He encouraged the holding of Summits such as the Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction as a means to review the state of affairs regarding unemployment. He further noted that educated young people are unable to utilise their skills as a result of challenges created by the system and pointed out that talents underutilized could be diverted to unproductive ventures.

 

Enlightened Self Interest

He pointed out that paying attention to the needs of the poor and unemployed is strategic and also has security implications for those who have jobs as well as government officials. Therefore, he called on various agencies that are associated wealth creation to invest in poverty reduction. He pointed out that if poverty is not addressed, the security challenges in Nigeria could get worse, as the situation is breeding a new generation of unemployed youths who feel deprived.

 

Investing in development

Drawing on examples of countries with Oil and Gas endowments such as Rivers State but with better economic and social outcomes, he pointed out that these countries have harnessed their resources to create less oil dependent economies. In particular, he made reference to Dubai, where Oil was previously the main economic resource accounting for more than 90 per cent of GDP, but now accounts for less than 5 per cent while tourism contributes over 95 per cent of the resources, of the region.

 

Visionary Leadership

Mr Oti noted that with visionary leadership, the model created in Dubai could be replicated in Nigeria. He emphasised that most essential elements necessary for improvement is visionary leadership and a willing followership.

 

Keynote Address by His Excellency, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Governor of Rivers State

 

What is sustainable Development?

The Governor in his keynote by discussed the meaning of sustainable development. He defined sustainable development as a concept that embraces three dimensions of social, economic and environmental development. It involves inclusive investment in human and material resources and the environment.  However, he pointed out that the poor understands sustainable development as anything that guarantees livelihood. Therefore without addressing the challenge of hunger, it will be difficult to protect the environment the poor is likely to fell trees if it will provide a means of livelihood.

 

Government action for sustainable development

The governor pointed out that in order to protect the environment and prevent felling of trees there is a need to provide the necessary conducive economic environment that will enhance the livelihood and economic activities of the citizenry.

 

He disclosed that government officials need to appropriately utilise the collective resources of the state at their disposal to touch lives in order to guarantee their own safety and prevent their vulnerability to attacks. The governor also explained that the lack of awareness among government officials that they are representatives of the people has led to a culture of impunity, which needs to be checked.

 

Skills and Criminality

He also pointed out that a significant proportion of criminals are unskilled young people who often excuse their behaviour on the lack of sources of livelihood. Thus government officials need to be more responsive to the needs of the young people.

 

Government priorities

The governor informed the Summit that the Rivers State Government has prioritised four areas for development: education, agriculture, power and health care, as its cardinal areas of investment, in addition to transportation, water and other areas. He also stated that some of these services, especially education and healthcare are provided for free.

 

Vote of thanks by Dr. Tex Wariboko, Special Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on NEPAD

Dr. Wariboko thanked the participants for attending the summit and partners for their support to the event. He stated that the objective of the summit is to develop a strategic framework for wealth creation and poverty reduction in Rivers State in order to ensure that by 2015, the necessary foundation will be laid for the sustainable development of Rivers State. He also informed the participants that the summit will be an annual event for the next two years until 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

Plenary 1: The case for home grown Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction Strategy

Moderator:   Mrs Emmanuela Izunwa

Panelists:    Dr Alex Oti

Dr Mostaq Ahmmed

Professor Kevin Urama

 

Why a development model?

The moderator queried? Do we need a specific model for Nigeria, or do we need to simply adopt previous existing developmental models which have been in place in Nigeria or elsewhere?

 

Dr. Alex Oti: Do we need a model?

He discussed the issue from two viewpoints. Every environment is different, with its own peculiar characteristics. Some characteristics of our problems are different but poverty is the same everywhere. Albeit, whereas the challenges might appear similar, importing existing models of development may not work for us owing to challenges peculiar to our environment. High industry models may not work in our low energy environment. In addition, policies and regulations could also pose challenges to the realisation of certain externally adopted models.

 

Case Study 1: Diamond Bank Funding for Printing press in Aba

Dr. Oti shared a case study to buttress his point. Diamond Bank funded the importation of a paper mill in Aba. The mill was imported from Italy and generators were installed to ensure regular power supply. However, when the first change over was made due power failure, the machine stopped working. On inviting the manufacturers to rectify the problem, they informed the operators of the equipment that the machine requires uninterrupted power supply in order to function at optimum levels.

 

 

 

Do things differently

He noted the need to do things differently. He maintained that there is need to adequately understand the current state of affairs; for example, what proportion of the population is living in poverty? Furthermore, he noted that models of development should be specific to the population, segment or sub-category of the population that is targeted.

 

Diamond Bank critical analysed our peculiarities and suggested that the economy will not grow if loans are not granted to small and medium enterprises and therefore embarked on developing a micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) programme. The programme has since its establishment embarked on providing loans to the tune of $220 million USD and has fairly low delinquency rates. Furthermore, the programme received additional financial input from the international financial cooperation. Investing in MSMEs will reduce  unemployment and thereby reduce social tension.

 

Dr. Mostaq Ahmmed: What is a model which if delivered will constitute wealth creation and poverty reduction?

Dr. Ahmmed made it known that action is needed to fight poverty. He indicated that the task depends on the mind-set of those implementing poverty reductions and wealth creation programmes in Nigeria, noting that models from abroad may not work in our environment. In that instance, these models have to be adapted, modernised and immediate action needs to be undertaken regarding their implementation.

 

Poverty is multidimensional

Poverty is multidimensional. People are poor due to lack of education, modern skills and lack of justice. Food poverty is a challenge and should be addressed by creating social enterprises and an action plan. Humanitarian endeavours should be undertaken by civil society and government to eradicate hunger poverty where it exists because it could be a barrier to productivity.

Recommended actions

  1. Education and skills training. There is need to check why people drop out of school and provide specially designed non-formal training to support them.
  2. There is need to provide jobs for teaming youths.
  3. Micro finance, integrated with skills development training and support, should be provided as a measure to fight poverty.
  4. There should be adequate investment in energy, including renewable energies.
  5. Government should provide low cost housing for the masses.

 

Professor Kevin Urama: Ideas on poverty reduction

There are different types of poverty: absolute and relative poverty. There is also food poverty which could lead to social unrest. Relative poverty is predominant in Nigeria. In addition to these is the poverty of the mind, related to attitudes. However, the most crucial aspect of poverty that needs to be addressed is food poverty, as failure to address it could result in lower productivity and increased social unrest.

 

Recommended actions

  1. There is need for a change of mind-set.
  2. An enabling environment where businesses can thrive should be provided and encouraged.
  3. Promotion of social entrepreneurship through which private investors support youth and women empowerment efforts is important.
  4. The skills of the young people should be harnessed.

 

 

Syndicate Sessions 1-3

 

Group 1: Agricultural transformation and food security

 

Speaker: Chief Mike Ejemba

There have been many fine agricultural policies and roadmaps. These have not been beneficial because there has always been a lack of willingness and commitment to follow through on them. Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Green Revolution, ADP, Fadama etc have not been sufficiently helpful because the commitment and the will to succeed is lacking.

 

Agriculture should be seen as the bedrock for economic development. It has the potential to create job for our people and to empower them. However, there has to be a shift from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.

 

It must be demonstrated to our youths that Agriculture is profitable. The case of some youths who acquired skills on fish farming at the Songhai Rivers State Farm was brought to the fore. These youths from Delta State went back home and were empowered to train others. They are now comfortable, able to fend for themselves and acquire some basic things of life. It was recommended that the Songhai Rivers initiative be replicated in other parts of the State.

 

Another example worthy of emulation is that of Malaysia where Youths interested in practicing agriculture as a business were each given 4 hectares of land to cultivate oil palm. Government provided the enabling environment and made adequate arrangement to purchase fruits from the youths with a view to encouraging them to keep producing.

 

It was reiterated that youths are to be relied upon for agricultural transformation since the current generation of farmers are old and barely employ best practices in terms of input, cultivation methods etc.  However, whether a youth will embrace agriculture or not depends on his mind-set. Therefore, he emphasized that the profitability of farming as a business needs to be demonstrated to youths for them to embrace it.

 

The issue of food security was also addressed. It was stated we can only talk of food security if food is affordable, nutritious, available, and there is capacity to buy it.

 

Finally, it was emphasized that an enabling environment for the youth is fundamental to agricultural transformation. For example, the need to provide subsidy cannot be overemphasized. Also, financial institutions and Lending agents like banks can also contribute to the development of the youth by providing loans at minimal interest rates.

 

Major Highlights of Syndicate Presentation

  • Agriculture must be seen as a business not a hubby
  • Trainings / Capacity buildings are pre-requisites
  • Agricultural Value chain (Production, Processing and Marketing must be followed.
  • Replicate Songhai model in all LGAs as a “watch & follow-up process” to create more jobs
  • Develop a Participatory Training approach so that interests of the masses could be captured
  • MFIs to peg interest rate to single digit
  • Food security should not only emphasize Availability and Affordability but also Nutritious values
  • Gender sensitivity has to be considered in agricultural value chain equation for sustainability to be enhanced
  • Mind-set should be monitored through “Show and Tell Process”
  • Government should view seriously the provision of Improved Varieties as its responsibility
  • Farmers need support through subsidy or “Green box process”

 

Group 2: MSME and Entrepreneurship development

The session commenced with the Speaker, Dr Mostaq Ahmed, analysing the factors militating against the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Rivers state and in Nigeria at large.

He stated that though many people have shown interest in the development of the small and medium enterprises, the will power to drive the interest is lacking.

 

The Speaker listed the challenges against the growth of small and medium scale enterprises to include the following:

  1. Poor funding of the SMEs
  2. Inability of the participants in SMEs to provide collateral for loans.
  3. Poor initiative in creating new and marketable businesses
  4. Poor orientation of the people about the Small and Medium scale enterprises.
  5. The problems of mind-set of some of the small scale Entrepreneurs to embrace and accept best practices in business e.g. keeping proper records and accounts of businesses and prompt repayment of loans as at when due while adopting efficient management principle.
  6. Poor infrastructural base.
  7. Multiple Taxation which often wipe out the profit and growth of the small and medium scale Entrepreneurs
  8. Government policies and laws relating to small Entrepreneurs which are not clearly articulated.

 

Dr. Ahmmed dwelt on each of the above listed factors in details. He emphasised the poor initiative of the people to create new and marketable businesses. He stated that the majority of the Entrepreneurs in the Small and Medium scale enterprises are often copy cats; who engage in replicating already existing businesses or production of materials that are already in the market. He stated that most businesses that are founded on copied ideals often do not survive for a long time since the original initiators of the businesses, products and services are often better and always ahead.

 

Dr. Ahmmed also harped on the need to have a change of mind-set and attitude. He spoke against the attitude of many people who wait on the Government and donor agencies to share free money to prospective and already operating small and medium scale Enterprises. He rather advocated that Government and donor Agencies should give interest free loans without collateral while building the capacity of the beneficiaries to be able to operate businesses and be capable of repaying the loans while sustaining the businesses.

 

He further advised the Government to empower the people more through capacity building while encouraging the use of information communication technology (ICT), for example, the computers, phones etc. He also advocated the establishment of Training Centres.

 

Dr. Ahmmed stressed that people must diversify businesses. He stated that in a situation where a business model needed to be copied it must be with proper modification to meet the peculiarities of our environment in Rivers state. He further said that he had done a survey and discovered that a big city like Port Harcourt, has no Poultry Hatcher that can hatch fifty thousand birds despite the wealth in the city.

 

He however recommended the empowerment of the Micro finance institutions to enable them brace up and provide short term loans to small and medium scale Enterprises. He noted that operator of small and medium scale Enterprises often do not have collateral to enable them secure loans from the commercial Banks and that the Micro finance institutions should be empowered and funded to be able to provide non interest loans with zero collateral. He added that this system has helped to grow the SMEs in his country; Bangladesh.

 

Several questions were also asked by the participants, these include;

Whether there was frame work? Or model in Bangladesh good enough for Rivers state Government to copy and help grow the Small and Medium scale Enterprises.

 

Dr. Ahmmed answered that though Bangladesh has made significant progress with the development of the small and Medium scale Enterprises mostly funded by the Micro finance institutions, he stated that Bangladesh did not have a model established by Government policy but that Pakistan had an established model that was backed by Government policy which could be helpful to Rivers state and Nigeria at large.

 

Mr. Derifakai Odubor observed that the level of literacy in Rivers state and Nigeria is very low which informs why many people want free money in the name of investing in small and medium scale business only for the monies to be spent on trivialities. He advocated that Government should as of priority engage in capacity building as this will help beneficiaries manage money and run businesses for which loans will be granted.

 

The last question bothered on whether the beneficiaries of soft loans would be able to make any meaningful progress in the face of poor infrastructure especially poor power supply.

 

Dr. Ahmmed explained that the solution with meeting the cost of providing individual power supply was to scale down other operation cost in doing businesses.

 

The session came to an end with an advice from Dr. Ahmmed that the watchword for the growth of SMEs in any country was ‘action’. This He emphasized  entails that the people  must put mechanisms in action to see that achievement is recorded every day in the growth of SMEs especially since the  sector forms a major driver of our economy.

 

Group 3: Gender Mainstreaming and Adult Literacy: The New Frontier

Speaker: Shimite Katung

Moderator: Professor Edna Matthews Njoku

 

Definition of Gender Mainstreaming

  1. Making women’s concerns integral to the political, economic and social spheres so that women can experience equality with men.
  2. Getting women’s concerns integrated into our economic and political policies.

 

Gender mainstreaming for the purpose of this programme was looked at from a female perspective.

 

Women will remain in their current position until they acquire the tool to understand how policies are made, how to influence these policies and effect a change. In some societies, women’s activities are kept at the periphery but now, in Europe for example, women have become influential.

 

In Africa, men still make policies that affect women. For example, NAFDAC having a policy that does not recognise kitchen sink industry. Making the point that most women start their creative process in the kitchen they lack access to huge sums of money. They will start their businesses in the kitchen, rather than taking a risk of investing in a shop from the outset. NAFDAC should inspect the kitchen, if health and safety is an issue rather than rejecting a kitchen sink business out rightly on the grounds of health and safety standards.

Adult Literacy is defined as the ability to read and write to an extent to be able to influence policies, to impose a positive change. Fifty percent of Nigerian women are illiterate (Report by UNESCO), meaning that 50% of Nigerian women can read and write enough to effect a change.  However, fifty percent of Nigerian women who are able to read and write are still absent in policy making. This affects women negatively as women’s interests and perspectives are not represented and reflected in policies adopted. Women as a result, lack the voice to influence things and the ability to grow in our society. Wealth creation and poverty reduction programme cannot move forward without women or half of the population.

The question remains, if women are not in the office will they be missed? Are their positions and roles important enough for anyone to notice their absence?

 

Recommendations

  • There should be Implementation of women related policies and agreed action plans from previous summits.
  • Women are currently sitting on boards with harsh policies that impact female staff negatively. These women should speak up and propose changes in their organisations.
  • The organised educational system must embark on an adult literacy campaign.
  • Government legislation must be used to recognise and enforce women’s equality.
  • Mainstreaming should be taken to the grassroots, to the family level to ensure a mind-set and culture change.
  • Men’s co-operation will be required therefore; women should leverage the men and work in partnership.
  • We must review our cultural and religious beliefs and get rid of obsolete ideas and wisdoms that work against women.
  • More support should be given to female students to enable them complete their education. The support should be tailored to their specific needs and may be in the form of grants and other incentives.
  • Every state should have a functional ministry for women’s affairs.
  • More women should be encouraged to go into politics. A quota system may be a good idea for consideration.
  • Preferential job selection (PJS) should be checked. Currently PJS works against women. Since employers if given a choice between male and female candidates employ the male candidates. Selection should be based solely on merit.
  • Laws and policy proposals should be made open and available on the internet so that people will be aware of them and can make suggestions when and where necessary.
  • Women traders should be given more support and shops made available to them instead of being chased about by Government officials.
  • Women who drop out of schools should be made to go back and complete their basic education. Their children should be targeted as well to prevent intergenerational illiteracy and poverty.
  • All should emancipate their minds from the belief that certain jobs are beyond the scope and ability of women. Women should change their mind-set and go for jobs they are qualified for.
  • Women should have equal access to land and enterprise development initiatives.

 

Plenary Two:

Presentation and Discussion of Syndicate session reports

The main discussions from the syndicate groups, as outlined earlier were presented at the plenary. The reports were not discussed.

 

Keynote presentation: The Context of Job Creation

Speaker: Professor. Pat Utomi, Co-Founder and CEO, Centre for Values in Leadership

 

Nigeria’s biggest challenge

The speaker noted that job creation is one of Nigeria’s leading development and social challenges and is critical to Nigeria’s political life. Pointing out that ‘of all the challenges that we face as a nation today, none is more important than the challenge of job creation’ because most of the social challenges faced by the country are attributable to the phenomenon of jobless growth. In this regard he noted that although the Nigerian economy has grown at an average of seven per cent over the last couple of years, the country’s gini-coefficient –( measure of income distribution in the society), has seen only a small portion of the society capturing the gains of the growth achieved so far and more people are excluded. This poses a major threat to stability in the long run.

 

He further stated that were the spate of unemployment does not to lead to instability, the opportunities for further growth will be diminished by the resultant social unrest from those who are unemployed and hence unable to live a dignified life. This group has nothing to lose yet the consequence of their unemployed status will rob-off on the rest of the society.

 

Unemployment, Social unrest and Gender

The speaker said ‘if we don’t create enough jobs to engage our youths, militancy or Boko Haram activities will be the increase, because young people are available to be used. Furthermore, a significant part of the energies and talents that can create value and lift the quality of life of people will continue to be excluded’. He reiterated that any society that excludes 50 per cent of its population can never compete with those who are using their population to full capacity.

 

He also highlighted the importance of investing in the girl child, noting that it makes economic sense and yields higher returns. He therefore noted that job creation should be at the centre of all policy and political discussions. He opined that job creation should influence the chances of any political candidate in an election.

 

The context of Job creation

According to Prof Utomi, lack of the understanding of the context in which jobs are created has led to efforts in futility, as different structures established have not achieved desired results. There have been fundamental issues of not taking ownership or pursuing these processes with passion. He pointed out that where progress takes place, people take ownership and passionately seek to achieve change. Passionate leadership is necessary in order to create the required numbers and quality of jobs.

 

Brazil as a case study

He described the case of Brazil in the 1960s, which focused on growth and building the economy. Thus they identified the right policies, and invested in industrialisation, but the country continued to have a growing number of poor people, owing to the fact that the growth was concentrated only in a small elite. Most Brazilians were excluded with a high gini-coefficient. Young men were excluded and those who gained wealth were targeted by kidnappers, while crimes increased.

 

In some ways, the challenges faced by Brazil in those years are similar to those faced by present day Nigeria. Thus, Brazil’s economic growth provides a model from which Nigeria can draw. Higher numbers of economic opportunities were created which led to the decline of poverty in Brazil.

 

Creating Value

It is pertinent to understand value creation because it is not possible to create jobs without creating value. The process of value creation is about entrepreneurship – value and entrepreneurship are about bringing about something where nothing existed, not necessarily invention but creating something for which people will be willing to pay.

 

Lagos Case Study

He gave another example with a group of young men who could not find jobs in Lagos and decided to form a refuse collection company. Starting off with a cart through which they engaged area boys, they became so prosperous and eventually purchased a pick-up van and the business grew until they were able to purchase an actual refuse collection vehicle. This process created value for the community and improved the quality of life of the young men in question.

 

Vectors of value creation

According to Prof. Utomi, the process of value creation involves three vectors:

  1. Use value – He noted that the more use value is created, the higher the chances that the created value will be considered to be of importance to those for whom it is intended. He argued that use value is not absolute but potential.
  2. Price – Price is a function of people’s perception of value added. It is the relationship between perceived price and perceived use value that leads to customer action. But cost being absolute is the key determinant to remaining in business.
  3. He queried: how do we get young people to understand value creation; the relationship between value and price, and cost? He indicated that these are the key challenges of entrepreneurship.

 

‘Creative destruction’ and the role of institutions

According to the speaker, innovation is a function of making existing technologies and approaches obsolete and pointed out that the challenge faced by many young entrepreneurs is a result of barriers set in their way by the more established entrepreneurs.

 

In this regard he noted the critical role of institutions in creating the emergence of new enterprises, stating that stronger institutions make progress easier. In addition, he noted that judicial activism is a critical component in creating economic growth, citing the example of the United States where the role of the judiciary contributed to the growth of enterprises, innovation and development. He noted that in our context, institutions are sometimes a challenge and barrier to progress.

 

Steps to creating wealth

He explained that to create value, the starting point is knowledge; the other point is mind set, and perhaps the change of mind set in terms of culture and work ethics. He also noted that a major challenge to development is the failure of vocational training.

 

Recommended Actions

He therefore recommended that appropriate investments should be made in the development of technical and vocational education and training. He further, recommended that an executive vocational training programme should be instituted whereby young graduates can be trained in technical skills, and supported to lead teams of artisans. Through this vocational jobs will be attractive and lucrative; thereby creating the required jobs that will engage the youths.

 

 

Proceedings of Day Two

 

Plenary 3:

Keynote presentations

There were three Keynote addresses presented by the two key note speakers of the day and the Governor. The Governor interfaced to take interventions from participants.

 

Dr. Mostaq Ahmed

The highlights of his presentation are as follows:

  • Sustainable Village Model based on the philosophy of “change the village, change the nation”; the village will be provided with all the needed socio-economic infrastructure and industries; driven by the principles of total development approach; seeks a reorientation of people to change their mind set to be entrepreneurial.
  • Review of schools curriculum to emphasize conceptual and technical development.
  • Embarking on a journey towards sustainable development in Nigeria through the establishment of ICMSE that provides micro-private finance alongside capacity development and technology, making these available in the rural areas where they are needed, and not charging high interest on Micro-finance loans.
  • Preference for actions rather than rhetoric and access to government policies.
  • Equity financing and Business modeling for enterprise development are dimensions of ICMSE focused on providing Equity capital, Value Adding Support (such as knowledge services), Innovative SMEs that focus on product rather than customer and with support services decentralized to the village level and applicable to a number of industries such as Agro-business, Food processing and preservation, Pathology and Diagnostic institutes, Land development, Housing construction etc.
  • Improved cooking stove invention that prevents deforestation and inhalation of smoke by women; 2,000 of this stove will be produced and distributed in Port Harcourt.
  • Solar irrigation project which helps agricultural development with the use of solar energy that ensures green environment.
  • Bio Gas invention used in several ways including for cooking.
  • Low cost housing using a machine that can mould 10,000 blocks which can build 4 houses.
  • Others include: Solar mini grid and Solar electricity
  • In conclusions, he suggested the formation of small focus groups to discuss how the ICMSE experience could be applied to our respective villages.

 

His Excellency Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi

The Governor of Rivers State called for interventions based on the address by Dr. Ahmed. Contributions include the following:

  • Customization and adaptation of models from other countries.
  • Need to go beyond problem identification to being creative enough to develop what is needed in Nigeria.
  • Balancing women’s interests in the various development models.
  • Effect of corruption on micro finance founded by government.
  • Orientation of the average Nigerian that those in government steal and as such see micro-finance as an opportunity to share in the stealing.
  • Innovation as the best way to attract micro-finance.

 

His Excellency, Jose Maria Figueres Olsen, Former President of the Republic of Costa Rica

The highlights of his presentation were:

  • The world needs a new capitalist model that accommodates social entrepreneurship and the environment.
  • Development is not easy, otherwise, everywhere would have been developed.
  • Five reasons for the focus of his discourse on Rivers State are: (a) Africa can learn from others experiences, (b) NEPAD mission is very important across Africa, (c) Nigeria has the needed resources to develope, (d) Rivers State has an enlightened and inspired leadership, and (e) Development is far too important to be left in the hands of government alone as it requires the involvement of business, NGOs and communities.

 

Global events in the last 20 years show that:

  1. Until 2007, the world enjoyed at least 50% growth that was unprecedented with the largest growth being in Asia.
  2. As from 2008, the developed world went into crisis resulting in a tremendous amount of world debt, impactful mainly on the developing world with huge budget deficits and high unemployment, to the extent that the world needed to create job not as a matter of economics but as a matter of value.
  3. In response to this need, different economic theories have offered suggestions as to the way to development, but he thinks recovery would be slow.
  4. The situation has caused him a number of concerns which include: (i) unemployment, (ii) Lack of innovation, and (iii) paradigms shifts- in politics, from cooperation to the lack of it, in economies, from economic growth to environment involving population growth requiring investment in public transportation, alternative energy use and climate change.

 

Global Challenges in the Next 20 years include:

  1. War against poverty of a diverse nature.
  2. Controlling climate change that is threatening human life.
  3. Low Carbon Economy which requires innovation and re-invention.

 

Practical Applications of discourse to Rivers State lies in replicating what Africa has done with communication, leap frogging through:

  1. Energy: A 750 megawatts energy powered by gas is better than energy using oil and coal. This should be complimented with solar energy, as is the case with the Solar Power City in the USA, to provide every home with solar panels that provide electricity, income and job – thereby creating a new industry in view of the fact that there are 1.6b people in the world without power, and as a result suffer energy poverty.
  2. Health: Health provision should be oriented towards telemedicine rather than building big hospitals, Preventive Health should be emphasized, and that the existing health centers for the state population of 7.5m people though translates to 35,625 persons per centre, is still less than what obtains in Costa Rica where it is 25,000 per health centre.
  3. Education: 57% of the 7.5m people are of school age in Rivers State; with 899 teachers, the student-teacher ratio is 30:1 though not the best, it is not bad. However, the old model of education that is based on literacy via reading and writing, must give way to a new definition of literacy to include literacy in languages, computer literacy, and bio literacy (bio-diversity and environment).
  4. Government services: Government should lead with all its operations being powered by solar energy, having all its procurements put online for complete transparency, and saving resources for other government projects.
  • These applications which would create a circle of prosperity require leadership from government, business, civil societies, and academia and with everyone being a change agent.

 

Interventions on the presentation:

  1. The place of Africa in the development continuum lies in leap frogging.
  2. An appropriate development model must be one that doesn’t leave development only in the hands of government.
  3. Political leadership must make the needed decision.

 

Syndicate sessions 4-6

 

Group 4: Access, participation and attitude

Speaker: Prof. Kevin Urama

Access, participation and attitude have implications on wealth creation and poverty reduction. The challenge we have is that ours is an enslaved economy where few people control the available resources. This limits wealth creation and explains why many nations that are rich in natural resources are poor.

In view of this, how can Rivers State develop an action plan that can help people have access to resources? There is need for positive attitude, and resist inequitable distribution of resources.

 

Africa has 75% of world’s platinum, 50% of diamond and chromium, and a fifth of gold and uranium. If we do not know what to do with them, others (foreigners) will be interested and exploit us. In order to create wealth from our resources, we must:

  1. Change our attitude
  2. See our resources as input for wealth creation and not for grabbing
  3. Be transparent

Wealth creation is actually a function of attitude- our thoughts. Three strong attitudes that can lead to success include: desire, decision and determination.

 

Our attitude, if negative, can be detrimental to wealth creation. One time President of America Abraham Lincoln had this to say after his visit to Nigeria: “I went to bed convinced that Nigerians are a different people playing to a different set of rules”. these rules Obviously include recklessness, impunity, dependency and ‘anything goes’ attitude. A research report revealed that Nigerians work for 3.5 hours a day while citizens of some wealthy countries worked for 24 hours a day. It follows that their wealth is a product of hard work.

 

To create wealth therefore, we must:

  • Build positive attitudes and values;
  • Develop culture of hard work;
  • Have self-determination;
  • Have self-pride;
  • Display justice and equity;
  • Provide for social safety ie protection of the vulnerable (youth and women) against lack of access;
  • Have zero tolerance for corruption;
  • Promote high quality education;
  • Have sense of self confidence;
  • Improve knowledge and training;
  • Good leadership.

 

Our action points therefore should include:

  • Mind-set change;
  • Creation of favourable or enabling environment
  • Development of knowledge and skill;
  • Re-orientation of our culture.

 

Major Highlights

Reactions by participants on Effects of Access, Participation and Attitudes on Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction were captured as follows;

  • Leadership – Absence of Vision and Commitments;
  • Values destructions among the communities’ leadership;
  • Problems associated with access to production resources eg. Land for agriculture graduates;
  • Absence of considerations for Public Private Partnership model with regard to culture and attitude;
  • Human capital development must be through articulate policies;
  • Re-orientation (Enlightenments) of community leadership;
  • Public enlightenment and creation of awareness of the populace;
  • Revolutionizing R/S towards attitude or mind-set re-orientation;
  • Bottom-up participatory educational approach from Nursery schools to Community leadership.

 

Group 5: Job Creation and Employment

Speaker: Mr Godson Beedie

Moderator:  Dr Chamberlain Peterside

The Speaker started the session by saying that the rate of unemployment in Nigeria has reached a crescendo that all hands must be on the deck to solve the problem.

 

He stated that the attitude of giving total credence to paper qualifications is one of the major challenges militating against reduction in the percentage of the unemployed in Rivers state and Nigeria.

 

He went further to state that high rate of unemployment has remained unabated owing to several factors including:

  1. That youth are mostly unequipped.
  2. Lack of experience.
  3. Lack of basic tools/skills to compete in our present day job market which is already saturated.

Mr.Beedie stated that since the bulk of the unemployed are youths, he advised that efforts must be geared towards improving the educational policies of our country to help build the capacity of our youths and make them better qualified and more employable before graduation from the higher institutions.

 

He gave illustration with an internship programme which is being run as a partnership between an organization operated by them and the Niger Delta University, in Bayelsa State under a memorandum of Understanding.  He said that the University Authority made the internship programme compulsory for all final year students.

 

Mr. Beedie stated that the content of the internship programme was designed by the planners to arm the students with the right attitude required in contemporary work place, provide training /skills which prepares the students to be able to create jobs at graduation and to train participant on how best to use the internet applications to search for job which are very competitive and requires competence right from application for the job.

He stated that they had trained 430 students of the Niger Delta University and that at graduation those who intended to be self-employed were required to prepare business proposals which were verified by trainers and those found credible were empowered financially by the Bayelsa State Government to set up their businesses and become self-employed and in many cases creating jobs for others.

 

Mr. Beedie noted that the success of the internship programme is very remarkable that many of the successful graduates have become self-employed and creating businesses that are sustainable.

 

Mr. Beedie listed the benefits of the internship to include:

  1. That the internship programme helps to prepare students for our competitive job market.
  2. Equipping the students with necessary materials and confidence needed to compete with their peers in our society.
  3. To give opportunity to the students to become entrepreneurs which would make them create and own their businesses.
  4. To create the enabling opportunity for mentoring graduate who benefited from the programme as this would give them the opportunity to benefit from the experience of highly skilled personnel or entrepreneurs.

 

He also stated that this internship programme can work in Rivers state and he strongly advised the government to implement it as a model.

 

He however advised the youths and unemployed not to wait or expect Government to create every employment noting that everybody has the capacity to create jobs only if the persons activate their entrepreneurship skills.

 

He concluded by saying that the responsibility of creating jobs is of everybody and does not only stop at the door of our various tiers Government.

 

Several Participants made remarkable observations/comments during the question time.

 

These include:

  1. A participant advised that to solve unemployment from its root in Rivers state and Nigeria, government should introduce a subject on Vocation, Entrepreneurial skills and job creation in the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
  2. Another participant believed that unemployment will greatly reduce if government can sincerely provide infrastructure, peaceful and conducive business environment, favourable government policies and trainings because a lot of youths would be encouraged with such enabling environment.
  3. A participant also observed that the Universities in their large numbers in Nigeria do not have courses aimed at giving orientation to their student on the need to develop a skill to be able to become self-employed after graduation. He advocated the introduction of a course on skills acquisition and Job creation.

The speaker in his final remark stated that summits like this be often organized by Government to find solutions to inadequacies and challenges facing our societies. He advised all participants to be the first beneficiaries of the summit and thereafter a crusader of the benefit derivable from the summit to avoid making the summit a talk show.

 

Group 6: Social Security Safety Nets

Speaker: Mr Kalada Apiafi

Moderator: Prof. C. Nwachuku

 

  • The growing need for social security intervention in Rivers State.
  • How can Rivers State benefit from the social security concepts of advanced nations?
  • The roadmaps to the development of sustainable social security safety nets.
  • What lessons can be learnt from the international models?

 

Social Security Safety Nets (SSSN) are seen as a foreign concept in Nigeria. But in reality, social security safety nets is not a totally foreign concept as it includes all poverty alleviation programmes and all programmes that protect people from falling below the poverty line. In the Rivers State, examples of SSSN include cash grants paid to pregnant women and in Bayelsa State, cash sums paid to those aged 75yrs and above.

 

The vast majority of the very poor reside in the rural areas. Data is needed to ascertain the exact figures and can be obtained using existing research institutes. However, anecdotal evidence has revealed examples of extreme poverty in places like Irokofor, a village in Andoni Local Government. Villagers here, who are predominantly into fishing are further impoverished by a lack of adequate storage facility for their catch and as a result are forced to throw their fish back into the sea. State intervention so far has been inappropriate as the State has provided the villagers with cold storage even though the village has no electricity resulting in agricultural waste.

 

Vulnerability or vulnerable groups are defined as people who are unable to fend for themselves without the intervention of others; as a result of disability both physical and mental, old age, pregnancy, chronic illness, illiteracy, unemployment etc.

 

Unemployment is a major issue among our youth. Youth population in Nigeria is 80m, constituting 60% of the total population. 64m of our youth are unemployed meaning that 50% of the population is unemployed.

 

There is a need therefore for social security intervention in the Rivers State to ensure that the poor does not get even poorer and the rich does not become poor. There is also a need for a local definition of poverty and vulnerability as there are aspects of our social and economic culture which are not quantified in monetary terms. Our peculiar needs will inform the type and nature of intervention required.

 

The British “Cradle to Grave” social welfare system, which is based on contribution and is means-tested was considered unsuitable for Rivers State. Problems were identified with regards to contributions. It will be impossible to get the people in work to contribute to the welfare system/budget. Means-testing will also pose a problem and the whole system will be open to abuse because of the high levels of corruption.

 

The American system that gives people on welfare benefit food stamps instead of money to ensure that the poor spends the money on food and not on other items such as alcohol and cigarettes will pose a problem here too. One of which will be the challenge of getting traders to accept food stamps in place of cash for their food stuff.

 

In South Africa, it was noted that the social welfare system has resulted in many young girls getting pregnant in order to gain access to social housing and to collect cash benefits from the State.

 

The group could not see how Rivers State would benefit from the social security concepts of advanced nations for the following reasons:

  1. Social Security allowances might breed idleness and encourage non- participation in gainful employment activities.
  2. Cash transfer programmes could create dependencies e.g. young girls becoming pregnant in order to claim cash benefits.
  3. Blanket payments made to all mothers and the elderly cannot be justified because not all mothers and elderly are poor.
  4. Problem with administration. Would it be a state or federal government programme? Would it be ring-fenced to indigenes only or would it be open to non-indigenes as well?
  5. Where will the funding come from if people in work refuse to contribute to it?
  6. How will it be monitored to prevent abuse?

 

Recommendations

Whilst the international models of SSSN were rejected, there was a strong support for the development of sustainable social security safety nets that will meet our specific needs and should include the following:

  • The provision of adequate infrastructure. Anecdotal examples of areas becoming extinct as a result of erosion abound.
  • Ensure adequate/regular power supply.
  • The provision of functional education is also a safety net. Example of Barefoot College in India.
  • Encourage entrepreneurship and provide business training. The training should be linked to micro-credit.
  • Provide balanced programmes catering for all sub-groups including the youths, women, the elderly etc.
  • We should have a policy of inclusion which makes it mandatory to allocate certain contracts to SMEs
  • A change in Federal Government policies and procedures required as currently it is extremely difficult to incorporate an NGO in Nigeria with the lengthy process creating bottlenecks at the federal level.
  • We should have an accepted definition of vulnerability, a policy framework should be set up to identify the vulnerable and a body created with the responsibility of ensuring that resources are made available to the identified vulnerable groups and to monitor the activities of those providing services to the vulnerable. Anecdotal examples given of people being made to pay more in clinics that were supposed to be providing free medical/dental services.
  • Measures should be taken to protect young workers from exploitation by their employers.
  • Ensure that staff at the Ministry of Social Services and Rehabilitation performs their roles efficiently by taking care of all the vulnerable groups that fall under the control.
  • Target children of those identified as vulnerable (Mississippi example), send the children to boarding schools for exposure in other to break the cycle of poverty and eradicate inter-generational poverty.
  • Social Security Safety Nets and Poverty Alleviation Programmes are important. We should have the right policy and legal framework, such that legislation is used to protect the Social Security Safety Nets and ensure its continuity.
  • Rules and regulations should be put in place to protect vulnerable children from abuse and drug addiction.
  • Strong control of illicit drugs is needed as it is one of the contributory factors to vulnerability.
  • Measures should be put in place to ensure our children do not starve as a result of coming from poor homes.
  • Make it compulsory for all students leaving school to have at least one marketable skill.
  • The Government must increase its investment in low cost housing.
  • All must strive to eliminate superstitious beliefs that hinder full participation in economic and social life.
  • Provide sound and quality information agencies. There should be available library and information services to show people how to improve their trade, develop their skills and potentials. Provide access to computers and the internet through viewing centres or literary resource centres.
  • Create an enabling environment.

 

Plenary 4:

Presentation and Discussion of syndicate session reports

This session was chaired by H.E. Jose Moria Figueres Olsen. Other Panelists were: Prof. Edna Matthews-Njoku, Godson Beedie and Ms Inyingi Roberts.

 

Group 4: The theme of this slot was: “Access, Participation and Attitude”. Prof Edna Matthews-Njoku presented the syndicate report on behalf of the group as summarized in the succeeding paragraphs.

  • There are some problems associated with the way the resources we have are managed; and these problems include: (a) Lack of value addition to resources, (b) Limited access to resources, and (c) Lack of broad participation, (d) Recklessness, over-dependence and impunity, (e) Poor attitude to work as most Nigerians put in only 3.5 hours to work, (f) Reward system that does not encourage workers putting in their best, (g) Attitude affected by ethnicity and hunger, (i) Absence of equal access to resources, services and law, (j) Dominance of corruption, (k) Lack of knowledge products evident limited patent and copy rights, and (l) High level of sycophancy.
  • The solutions to these problems must be driven by strong desire, decisions and determinations and should include (a) the development of positive attitude, (b) emphasis on hard work as a way to greatness, (c) a leadership that must be trust worthy, have respect for others, show integrity, responsibility and fairness, and caring for citizenry, and (d) the creation of favourable environment for entrepreneurship development and the thriving of champions.
  • To achieve the above there should be re-orientation and structured communication targeted at the elites.

 

Group 5: Godson Beedie who was the Speaker at the Syndicate also presented the report of the group at the Plenary. His report’s highlights are presented in the following paragraphs.

  • Serious issues affecting the youths include their being mostly unemployed and unemployable.
  • There are different statistics of the youth population and the proportion that is unemployed given at figures like 20.3 million youths with 50% unemployed or youths constituting 50% of the country’s population or about 80m with 54m unemployed and 1.6m underemployed.
  • There is the need to expose youths to entrepreneurship training as evident in the efforts of Africgrants Resources Ltd’s internship programme at the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State.
  • There is the need to mentor the youths especially with each politician and civil servant mentoring one or two youths.
  • University entrepreneurship programme should be oriented towards making graduates entrepreneurial in their respective disciplines.
  • Efforts should go beyond entrepreneurship training to enabling youths provide feasibility studies for projects to be funded through interest free loans and supported with project management services.
  • Enforcing the policy of having functional Guidance Counsellors in schools.
  • Encouraging youths to engage in Waste recycling as this is the fastest growing sector of the economy with the potentials for job and wealth creation.

 

Group 6: The theme of this Slot was “Social Security Safety Net”. Ms Inyingi Roberts presented the group’s report as summarised below.

 

  • The group examined the British Model which provides social security from cradle to grave, covering people who are vulnerable; but rejected the model as it creates a culture of dependence and young girls get pregnant in order to enjoy some provisions in the model.
  • The group also examined the American Model which provides for the exchange of stamps for food; but also rejected it because of the difficulty of operating it in Nigeria.
  • Consequently a Nigerian Model was suggested to provide safety nets for people not above the poverty line and for preventing those above the poverty line from falling below.
  • Data of such persons could be obtained from research institutes.
  • Support provisions to be included in the model should include access to good information, improved agriculture, functional education, fight against drug abuse, boarding schools for children of the poor, avoiding duplications of entrepreneurship schemes, and institution of adequate monitoring.
  • These should be backed by legislation for continuity no matter who is in Government.

 

Discussion highlights

  • Entrenching entrepreneurship programmes in school curriculum
  • Addressing companies’ demand for 1st Class and 2nd Class Upper graduates for employment.
  • According to the Manpower Board and Federal Office of Statistics, unemployment rate in Nigeria is about 50% of the population with about 1.6m people underemployed; and this is a great source of concern.
  • To make the summit effective, every participant should be held liable to put the results of the summit to effect.
  • Efforts should be made to attend to persons in prisons and others at rehabilitation centres.

 

Closing Plenary: Developing an effective and comprehensive framework for wealth creation and poverty reduction

Moderator: Godson Beedie

Panellists:  Kalada Apiafi, HE Jose Maria Olsen, Dr. Mostaq Ahmmed

 

 

Mostaq Ahmmed

He noted that although training is a critical element of achieving wealth creation and poverty reduction, this in itself is a challenge as training opportunities are often not equitably distributed and only those with access to power networks participate in similar trainings. In addition, he noted that without stepping down the trainings received thereby leading to transfer of skills and knowledge, progress will be stalled and trainings could in fact become a waste of time and resources.

Value added training

He noted the need for inclusivity of trainings. In this regard, he noted the need to involve young people in discussions and summits regarding poverty reduction and wealth creation. He also noted that the value of education cannot be overemphasised.

 

In this regard, he highlighted the need to:

  • Target young people who have dropped out of school in the provision of targeted trainings;
  • Take interventions to the grassroots level by working with NGOs at the grassroots;
  • Promote access to technology by all;
  • Ensure that cash transfer programmes are conditional in order to create a consciousness in beneficiaries that the resources they access comes at a cost to them.

 

In this regard, he cited a programme in Bangladesh where micro-credit is conditioned on sending children to school and investing in their feeding. So far the programme has reached 20 million individual with multiplier effects on their families and communities. He also noted that loans have been conditioned on encouraging smaller families as a means of ensuring that families have more resources to invest in health and nutrition of fewer household members.

 

Three areas of great importance energy, health and employment, were noted as critical for investment in the transition from the old to new economies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Kalada Apiafi

What should be the themes of the strategy?

  1. Creating an enabling environment (infrastructure, roads, power- critical to enterprise development);
  2. Critical to wealth creation is functional Education – which enables people gain skills that can be utilised after leaving school.
  3. Creation of relevant legal and legislative frameworks to support policies;
  4. Encourage an entrepreneurship culture rather than a culture of dependency;
  5. To promote a change of mind sets should be a strategy; the establishment of information centres in villages is encouraged.
  6. Clarify roles, what should be everybody’s roles?
  7. Look at agriculture beyond farming – value addition, storage, etc. modernise and make agriculture more interesting;
  8. The role of local governments should be discussed and taken into account and they should be involved in processes of poverty reduction;
  9. There has to be a policy of inclusion in procurement and government contracts. In some countries, a certain percentage of government contracts are reserved for SMEs as a means to enable them grow;
  10. Health: The national health insurance scheme is well intended but does not meet the needs of rural communities. Community health insurance has been established and this can be replicated;
  11. Local research institute findings should be used and taken into account in policy making.

 

His Excellency Jose Maria Olsen

The speaker noted that he had already laid the framework of transition to low carbon economy and the opportunities for Nigeria. He noted that there is need for sustainability and individual leadership in achieving this. He therefore called for action and implementation of the suggested framework.

 

 

Discussion highlights

  • In order to make progress, existing policies should be reviewed in order to identify areas for adoption, those that require review and those that should be changed;
  • Drawing on Japan as an example, we could focus policies on three key areas: agriculture, science and technology. We should inculcate science and technology as a way of life in order to be employed and productive.
  • Develop a blueprint for future action;
  • Pillars of wealth creation are education, agriculture, power and health;
  • Traditional rulers and local government councils should be involved in the planning of future similar processes.

 

Towards a Strategy

In his closing remarks, Dr. Tex Wariboko, Adviser to the Rivers State Governor on NEPAD indicated that the outputs from the summit, particularly the major recommendations, will be translated in to a policy framework, which will adopt an inclusive approach, including consultations with communities. He noted that the final strategy will be designed and presented at the next summit on Wealth Creation and Poverty Reduction in 2014.

 

Recommendations

Throughout the summit, participants made recommendations for policies and programmes which could contribute to reducing poverty and enhancing the quality of life of the poor in Rivers State. In this section of the report, the main recommendations which reoccurred across sessions of the Summit are highlighted for further discussion and elaboration.

 

  1. There is need to invest in technical and vocational education and training as a means to create jobs for young people thereby creating wealth;
  2. Provision of low interest rates micro-finance loans linked to skills training, in order to support the development of small and medium scale enterprises is important.
  3. The need to create an enabling environment by addressing the challenges associated with the operating environment which affect small and medium sized businesses cannot be overemphasised.
  4. Investment in renewable energies, both as an avenue for wealth creation and as a means to garner the benefits of the emerging global economy is urgent.
  5. Provision of social services to support the most vulnerable in the society is of essence.
  6. The need to adopt innovative approaches to agriculture is paramount.

 

Annexes:

  1. The Context of job Creation: Presentation By Prof. Pat Utomi.

Annexure 2: IST OF RAPPORTEURS:

  1. C. C. Nwachuku
  2. Edna Chioma Mathews-Njoku
  3. Timothy T. Epidi
  4. Dr Emmanuel Ogueri
  5. Barrister Irene I. Pepple
  6. Dr Matthew Ukpongson
  7. Barrister Abumere Sly Irabor
  8. Dr Isaac Zeb-Obipi
  9. Mr Dabesaki Mac Ikemengima
  10. Ms Inyingi Roberts

 

Coordinating Rapporteur: Mr I. Dienye Pepple (HOS, RSPSD)

 

Vision Statement of the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (2011 annual report)

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