Delta State Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has traced infrastructure decay,, weak public institutions, healthcare institutions, among others to a governance in deficit.
Delivering a lecture titled “good governance for Wealth Creation and Sustainable Development: Experience and Lessons” at the 2017 edition of University of Ibadan Alumni Lecture organised at the University of Ibadan Alumni Association at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan yesterday (15/08/17), Governor Okowa also, proffered solutions to the challenges.
According to him, “the lamentable state of our socio-economic development evidenced by corruption in all facets of our national life, weak public institutions, crumbling infrastructure, urban decay, loyalty to primordial interests, weak healthcare system, low literacy rate and widespread poverty is indicative of a governance deficit.”
“We must, therefore, ensure effective governance systems and institutions that are responsive to public needs, delivering essential services, promoting inclusive economic growth and political processes that ensure citizens can hold public officials to account,” the Governor said, empphasising, “there is, of course, no ‘one-size-fits-all’ model of good governance but having inclusive political and economic institutions should be the primary consideration.”
While noting that “through the Annual Lecture series, the University of Ibadan has maintained its front runner status not just as the premier university but as a main driver of thought, ideas and policy reforms in the country,” Governor Okowa said, poverty sticks out like a sore thumb amidst reports of economic growth with more than 62 per cent of Nigeria living in absolute poverty.
He stated that as a way forward, “there should be focused and enduring policy options to generate employment and reduce poverty; and viable, strong, productive and profitable Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) as harbingers of economic growth and poverty reduction.”
He listed different federal government’s initiatives towards poverty reduction to include, Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) – 1976, National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) – 1999, Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) – 2012, among others, noting, “more significant is the various initiatives to stimulate and promote Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) because, the MSMEs are engines of cost-effective employment generation, social inclusion, equitable development and self-reliant industrialization using local raw materials. MSMEs also enhance value chain development while facilitating the growth of non-oil exports.”
Governor Okowa lauded programmes initiated to strengthen MSMEs, like the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF), the Real Sector Support Fund (RSSF), Youth Enterprise Development Programme and Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS); and the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) which was introduced to provide “farm inputs in kind and cash (for farm labour) to small holder farmers to boost production of these commodities, stabilize inputs supply to agro processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food”
“It is fair to say that these initiatives have helped to boost macroeconomic growth and aid financial inclusion, and the success recorded so far can, at best, be termed modest against the background of persistent income inequality, rising unemployment and unabated poverty. It is obvious that poverty cannot be reduced or eradicated in Nigeria unless the present high level of unemployment/ underemployment is successfully tackled and we find a way of making MSMEs as productive and profitable as they are in other parts of the world including the advanced countries,” said, advising, “going forward, it is incumbent on current policy formulators, political leaders and decision makers in government to avoid the pitfalls of previous intervention programmes; it is a fallacy to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.”
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Abel Olayinka had commended the UIAA for attracting alumnus of the University of Ibadan who has made marks in their chosen fields to deliver the annual lecture while the National President of the Association, Dr Kemi Emina disclosed that Governor Okowa was chosen to deliver the lecture based on his antecedents in job creation, execution of people-oriented projects and his commitments to affordable healthcare delivery through the Contributory Health Insurwnce Scheme.
At the occasion, Governor Okowa bagged “Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award” of the Association.
Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, elected representatives, political office holders, renowned politicians and academics attended the ceremony.