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Abia Governor Otti Says His Administration’s Policies, Programs Geared To Win Battle Against Poverty

“Once you have a reliable database it becomes easy to plan and for you to measure.”

Governor Alex Otti has expressed the full commitment of his administration to fighting poverty in Abia State, saying that since inception eight months ago all its policies and programmes were geared towards winning the battle.

He made the promise at a meeting with a delegation of the European Union (EU) along with representatives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other development partners.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) puts the poverty index of Abia at 30 percent, which is below the national average of 40.1 percent.

But Otti was quoted in a press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Kazie Uko, to have assured the development partners on Tuesday that he would work assiduously to reduce poverty incidence to far below the present 30 percent.

The governor said that he would achieve the set goal within a year regardless of the population increase and its expected effect on the dynamics of poverty incidence.

“We may not be able to eliminate poverty but we can alleviate it when we create an enabling environment for businesses to grow and generate employment and pull people out of unemployment,” he said.

Otti stated that: “We want to genuinely take people out of poverty” but he underscored the need for reliable statistics of the actual number of people below the poverty level.

He added: “Once you have a reliable database it becomes easy to plan and for you to measure,” the governor said, adding, “we want to see the number and see the poverty rates go down even if the population is going high”.

He thanked the team of development partners for considering Abia as one of the states selected for partnership for the project on social register and social protection.

According to him, Nigeria has “struggled with the social register” hence he expressed happiness at the intervention of the development partners, who “are talking about social register and social protection”.

“There is nothing as important as data, because without data you cannot plan. So, we’ll do everything possible to ensure that you do your work and generate reliable data for the purpose other than social protection,” he said.

The Abia governor said that with the world already looking at the issue of multidimensional poverty, there was need to go beyond tackling poverty “as a stand-alone item, but poverty that looks at wealth, access to education and infrastructure”.

He informed the team that Abia ranks among the safest in Nigeria, having committed a lot of resources in the security sector, adding that his government was happy to work with the EU and its partners.

Otti also said that Abia would like to partner the ILO in resolving issues of pension, a request which the ILO representative gave a positive response.

The team Leader and Programme Manager for Social Protection, European Union, Ms Chioma Osuji, had earlier told Otti  that they were in Abia to partner the state in strengthening its social protection system.

She said that the project would yield a reliable social register to serve as a guide in providing the necessary support to addressing the multidimensional poverty rate in the state.

Osuji regretted that many poor Nigerians were yet to be captured on the social register to determine the actual number in need of their interventions.

However, she stated that the entire process would now be digitised in order to tackle the multidimensional poverty rate in Nigeria.

The team leader stated that Abia was among the four states selected to enjoy the partnership of EU and its partner agencies hence the team would help the state get a social protection policy with all the legislative framework.

In their remarks, the Social Policy Specialist UNICEF, Nigeria, Mr. Segun Tekun, and the ILO Senior Programme Officer, Mrs. Chinyere Emeka-Anuma explained that their agencies were working with the EU to strengthen intervention projects in the chosen locations.

They pointed out that the team would meet with stakeholders in various sectors of the state to enable them know their areas of interest and what the team could bring to the table.

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo

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