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Nigeria should tackle poverty, boost health

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By Abiodun Okunloye

OXFAM urge the incoming government to prioritize the country's development.

Following a decline in funding for Nigeria’s education, agricultural, and health sectors, Oxfam Nigeria, a non-profit organization, has called on the newly elected administration to take action to curb hunger and alleviate poverty in the country. The concern was voiced by Vincent Ahonsi, the Oxfam country director in a statement released on Sunday when he noted that the new leadership should prioritize ending discrimination against women and people with disabilities. According to the statement, they must act quickly to alleviate hardship, reduce inequality, and put an end to hunger in the nation.

More so, they have to recognize that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the key to developing an economy that is right and equitable, as well as a sustainable strategy for handling the developmental problems that the economy is currently facing, in order to boost economic recovery. As a significant contributor to employment and economic growth, the small and medium-sized business sector has repeatedly proven to be the indispensable pillar of major industrialized and emerging countries.

Networking and collaboration are necessary to boost the SME sector.

The director of Oxfam, referencing the International Labour Organization (ILO), stated that SMEs were responsible for producing 48% of Nigeria’s GDP, 96% of the country’s enterprises, and 84% of the country’s jobs. In order to create a thriving SME ecosystem and take advantage of the opportunities it presents, he stressed the importance of networking and working together. While the SME market has grown significantly in recent years, he argued that even more could possibly be done to take advantage of the ecosystem’s resources.

Business enabling environment, technical support, and training SMEs are required in order to promote a business environment that is inclusive and where women and young people are empowered to participate. The next government has to make considerable investments in free universal education, with a focus on expanding access to basic and secondary education at a high level. All these are important and necessary to decrease the large education gap between the wealthy and the less privilege.

More investment should be made in the country’s critical sectors.

It is imperative that a minimum of 15% of the national budget be allocated to the health sector as a matter of top priority. In addition to this, at least 10% of the budget ought to be allotted to agriculture, and inputs for farming should be made available to women and young people working in the agricultural sector. It should design a gender-sensitive and sustainable national agricultural investment plan, and its primary objective should be to assist small-scale farmers working in non-cash crop sectors.

Also, Vincent elaborated on the importance of lowering the amount of revenue that is lost due to taxation while simultaneously increasing the amount of revenue that can be generated. To take further measures to tax wealth, such as increasing taxes on inheritance and gifts, financial transactions, and capital gains, to fund the additional demands for post-COVID recovery, he suggested considering a “solidarity” tax. Maintaining a barrier between legal and financial transactions and those that would benefit from corruption or illegal activity is essential.

Illegal funds inflow discouragement and gender equality are needed.

Lastly, countries receiving the Oxfam support should be persuaded to increase due diligence inspections as a means of discouraging the inflow of illegal funds. In order to eradicate violence and discrimination, the new government should address gender biased legislation that targets women and design new laws that treat both genders equally. There is an immediate need for all societal sectors to design policies that will increase the participation of women, people with disabilities, and other marginalized communities in all levels of decision-making.

Related Link

Oxfam: Website

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