The Federal Government of Nigeria recently stressed the need for non-state actors to contribute to its efforts in national and economic development as the burden cannot be borne by the government alone. The government stated that it was encountering huge challenges and revenue deficit which has made it struggle to pay salaries. This was disclosed by the Minister of Budget and National Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, represented by the Director (International Cooperation), Dr. Sampson Ebimaro.
This disclosure was made during the 30th Annual Development Forum organized by Life Above Poverty Alleviation, under the theme, “The role of non-state actors in national development: A case study of LAPO”, in Abuja. The event saw the attendance of a former acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Sarah Alade; Founder/CEO, LAPO Group, Dr. Godwin Ehigiamusoe; and a political scientist and lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Federal University, Otuoke, Dr. Felix Oriakhi.
Existing NGOs fill up the gaps that the government is unable to fill.
Ehigiamusoe stated that non-state actors and institutions within the LAPO system, with a full-time staff of 10,212 and millions of beneficiaries, have immensely contributed to national development. The study captured in the theme of the event is focused on highlighting the more than N1.2 trillion which LAPO Microfinance Bank has awarded to female owners of micro and small businesses. The minister, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, asserted that the United Nations carefully crafted the name of “non-state actors”.
As a result, he said that he would rather address them as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) as non-state actors could be terrorist groups. He added that existing NGOs fill up the gaps that the government is unable to fill. They do this by seeking propositions on issues related to environment, public policy, support to vulnerable citizens, health care, economy, and empowerment. The government’s policy objective is critical for state and non-state actors, like NGOs. NGOs have a responsibility to collaborate with the government regarding its national development plan.
Total cost of the National Development Plan (2021-2025) is N348 trillion.
Both state and non-state actors are required to be inclusive in the national development plan for 2021-2025. This is because it has to be non-discriminatory and non-selective and the actors must attend to the entire needs of several areas of the society. The growth rate in the country is slow and population growth is rapidly increasing, even as unemployment rate increases despite high inflation. These issues are supposed to be covered by non-governmental organizations as they help in covering spaces which the government could not cover.
Former Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, on Finance and Economy, Dr. Alade, stated that the government needs collaboration with non-state actors for achievement of economic development, and ensuring the success of related social investment programmes. She added that non-state actors, including LAPO, would play significant roles in renewing the economic destiny. Alade said that the total cost of the National Development Plan (2021-2025) is N348 trillion. While the government contributes N49.7 trillion, the private sector provides N298 trillion.
NSAs should also combat social ills such as the digital divide, inequality.
Furthermore, it was stated that it is crucial to realize that the participation of NSAs in all areas of national development is significant towards sustainable progress. Although the economic leadership of the private sector is massive, NSAs should also combat social ills such as the digital divide, inequality, and the need for massive investment in human capital. Other speakers at the event also urged non-state actors to table their ideas — from conceptualization and execution to implementation — before the government for appropriate support and guidance.