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MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS INITIATIVE AND POVERTY REDUCTION IN UYO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF AKWA IBOM STATE
1.1 Background of study
The turn of the last century ushered in a new millennium – a millennium with its hopes, aspirations and fears for its billions of inhabitants. Towards the end of the last century, various far-reaching agreements were made at the numerous conferences of the United Nations with its collaborating agencies. The enormous burden of poverty, hunger, ill-health, environmental degradation and natural disease posed significant threat to peace, stability and hence continued human existence (Annan, 2006). In September, 2000, the world witnessed the largest-ever gathering of Heads of State. This gathering, tagged the United Nations (UN) Millennium Summit in New York, USA, and endorsed the UN millennium declaration which was endorsed by the 189 countries including Nigeria. The declaration was then translated into a roadmap, setting out goals to be reached by 2015 called Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) (Ladipo, 2005).
The MDGs are a series of eight time-bound development goals that seek to address issues of poverty, education, equality, health and environment, to be achieved by the year 2015 (WHO, 2000). They include: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and women empowerment; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development. In order to achieve these objectives, MDGs goals are sub-divided into eighteen (18) clear cut targets and forty-eight (48) indicators believed to be necessary as acid-test facilitator for the achievements of these laudable goals. Achieving these goals could be tasky and require a degree of commitments both the national and international levels.
According to Lawal, Obasaju and Rotimi (2012) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the world biggest promises to mankind. It is a bundle of developmental goals and targets committing about 189 independent states and virtually all of the world’s main multilateral organisations to an unprecedented effort to reduce multi-dimensional poverty through global partnership. As a result of these observed phenomena in almost all developing economies of the world, there was a consensus call for global approach to the problem and solution to poverty worldwide. Nigeria, the “Giant of Africa” has been a country of paradoxes. Blessed with abundant natural and human resources and with a population estimated at about 150 million but in the first five decades of its independence, the potentials remained largely untapped and even mismanaged (Chukwuemeka, 2009).
Soludo (2006) noted that given this condition, Nigeria should rank among the richest countries that should not suffer poverty entrapment. However, the monumental increase in the level of poverty has made the socio-economic landscape frail and fragile. With over 120 tertiary institutions producing more than 200,000 graduates per annum. Startling as it may be, a great percentage of Nigerian people are poor, yet Nigeria is a country with vast potential wealth. Although revenues from crude oil have been increasing over the past decades, our people have been falling deeper into poverty. Poverty levels vary across the country, with the highest proportion of poor people in the Northwest and the lowest in the Southeast. Today, Nigeria is ranked among the poorest countries in the world.
However, in order to solve the problems of poverty in Nigeria, the Nigerian government has embarked on different programs (such as: Operation Feed the Nation(OFN),Green Revolution, Agriculture Credit and Guarantee Schemes, Nigeria Agriculture and Cooperative Bank(NACB),Better Life for Rural dwellers, National Directorate of Employment(NDE),Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructural(DFRRI),Nigerian Agriculture and Land Development Authority(NALDA),and Family Economic Advancement Program, just to mention a few), strategies with massive aids and grants and also decades of special initiatives to cure poverty in the country.
In fact hardly will any Nigerian government come without leaving behind any form of poverty eradication strategy. In 2007, late former President Umaru Musa Yar’adua launched a seven-point agenda with the MDGs at its centre, further reinforcing the government commitment to fighting poverty and adding value to human life.
Looking at these numerous efforts both by the government and concerned citizens of this country, one would wonder why poverty persists in the country, the reasons cannot be farfetched. They include inadequate coordination of these programs, lack of accountability and transparency, political and policy instability, lack of targeting mechanism for the poor and the fact that most of the programs are not directly targeted at the poor as observed by UNDP, over extended scope of activities of institutions, absence of an effective collaboration and complementation among the three tier of government as well as corruption among others.
Achieving significant results in reducing poverty often hinges on what is done, how it is done, when it is done and whom it is targeted at. It is obvious from several studies that Poverty Reduction Strategies in Nigeria have failed to achieve their stated objectives. It therefore requires concerted efforts by all to contribute to the success of this all-important but elusive goal. Such efforts can only be meaningful if it stems from an empirical study in order to support the government to realize the global lofty objective of eradicating poverty by the year 2019 (Baghebo and Emmanuel, 2015).
The purpose of this research work, therefore, is to examine the effect of Millennium Development Goals Initiative on poverty reduction especially as it concerns Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria and also to identify some of the bottleneck in the achievement of these goals.
1.2 Statement of the research problem
Poverty is one of the most difficult challenges facing many nations in the world. It is a global phenomenon that affects underdeveloped, developing and developed societies but the first two societies are the most hit with African countries topping the list as majority of the population is considered poor. According to the United Nation Development Programme report (2007), one quarter of the world’s population continue to live in absolute poverty, unable to meet their most basic needs, and surviving on less than a dolar a day, the World Bank’s international poverty line.
In Nigeria, the advent of civil rule in 1999 was expected to work towards the creation a system that would guarantee the commencement of drive for a higher standard of living for the people of Nigeria and a drastic reduction in the level of poverty. Yet there is widespread of poverty in the nation and the scourge seems to be biting harder and harder. Available records shows that the number of those in poverty has continued to increase. For example the number of those in poverty increased from 27% in 1980 to 46% in 1985 and to 67% in 1996, by 1999 it increased to more than 70% (Baghebo, 2001). In July 2014 World Bank economic report on Nigeria put poverty rate at 33.1% for a country with massive wealth and a huge population to support commerce. The report seems inconsistent with reality. Income inequality worsened from 0.43 to 0.49 between 2004 and 2009 (Baghebo and Emmanuel, 2015). The report also shows that, the dept and severity of poverty is more in the rural than in the urban.
The development is dangerous both to the individual and the society at large. To the individual, poverty is dehumanizing and psychologically devastating while to the economy (albeit the society) it is destabilizing and a serious threat to political stability and social cohesion.
AKBASES (2005) confirmed the prevalence of poverty in Akwa Ibom State, especially among the rural and peri-urban dwellers. Inequality is high in the state as the total expenditure per month of the highest 10 percent of the population (N8, 235) is seven times higher than that of the lowest 10 percent of the same population (N1,120). Also, using the Gini Index, inequality is 44 percent for food items and 55 percent for non-food items. Additionally, while the overall urban poverty index was 53 percent, rural poverty index was 76 percent. Also, 81 percent of the rural poor use uncovered traditional pit latrines with HIV prevalence rate of 8 percent, second only to Benue State with 10 percent prevalence rate. Rural Akwa Ibom is inhabited by landless, uneducated poor and its crop yield is low because of degraded and polluted land. Its agriculture is mostly subsistent and rain-fed and its man-land ratio is approximately 1. Furthermore, 89.2 percent of the population in Akwa Ibom State resides in the rural areas and 74 percent live below the poverty line of N4,954 per adult per month. Based on these, there is high (36.1percent) unemployment among the rural residents who are characterized by low incomes, high level of poverty, poor quality of life, poor shelter, lack of access to potable water, poor sanitary conditions, poor transportation, poor energy supply and even poor storage facilities for harvested agricultural produce.
One of the critical concerns of successive governments in Nigeria is how to reduce poverty in the country. In the light of this, Akwa Ibom State government and Uyo Local Government Area in particular has established various poverty reduction policies/programmes with millions of naira allocated/budgeted annually to fight this social problem that has ravaged the masses. Despite the efforts of government in this direction and the implementation of the Millennium Goals and the activities of other poverty reduction agencies, the scourge still remains widespread as the masses have benefited very little from these policies/programmes. According to Ihimodu (2004), empirical records of many of these programmes and projects are not impressive enough to bring about the expected transformation on the livelihood of the targeted population.
It is against this backdrop that this study seeks to address the following questions: What are really responsible for the wide prevalence of poverty in Nigeria in the midst of plenty? Why have MDGs efforts in poverty reduction in Nigeria failed? How can we come out of these problems?
1.3 Research questions
The following research questions are posed for the study:
i. To what extent does Millennium Development Goals Initiative MDGs affect increase education enrollment in Uyo?
ii. To what extent does Millennium Development Goals Initiative affect health care provision in Uyo?
iii. To what extent does Millennium Development Goals Initiative affect food security in Uyo?
1.4 Objectives of the study
The overall objective of this research is to examine the effect of Millennium Development Goals Initiative on poverty reduction in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Its specific objectives are:
(i) To examine the concepts of Millennium Development Goals and poverty reduction.
(ii) To determine whether Millennium Development Goals Initiative has any effect on increase in education enrollment in Uyo.
(iii) To determine whether Millennium Development Goals Initiative has any effect on health care provision.
(iv) To determine whether Millennium Development Goals Initiative has any effect on food security.
(v) To examine factors affecting the attainment Millennium Development Goals Initiative in the fight against poverty in Nigeria.