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Poverty is the greatest threat to Nigeria democracy- Ex Speaker Dogara

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From Ahmad SAKA,Bauchi

The former speaker of the Federal House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara has explained that poverty is a great threat to democracy in Nigeria.

Dogara said this during a programme that took place at Marriott hotel, Ikeja-Lagos State, Nigeria in a speech which was made available to reporters by Dogara media aide Turaki Hassan Adamu, He said
with majority of the citizens abject poverty shows democracy is not working for the majority of the citizens of the country.
He said that “Our Democracy is not working for majority of our citizens. This is because, although they are alive and free, they lack the means with which to pursue happiness”
“Poverty is a greater threat to a democracy than weak institutions simply because it deprives poor citizens not only of their political voice but prevents them from holding their governments accountable shattering public trust in the emerging institutions of democracy”

Dogara who was the speaker 8th Assembly represented Bogoro, Dass and Tafawa-Balewa Federal constituency for sixteen (16) years in the house of representatives, spoke on the topic: “Democracy and the free market economy”.
He said “The challenge before us now is how to utilize our democratic rights to build an all-inclusive economy that empowers an overwhelming majority of our people to unleash their full potentials. Staying engaged just as we are doing today, is one of the ways of making our democracy work”

“We must never stop putting pressure on Government to set clear targets and monitor progress when it comes to addressing the causes of poverty because poverty, though experienced by individuals, is created by parlous systems that fail to protect citizens rights to a decent standard of living”

“After forty years of policy implementations and effective governance, China has successfully lifted 770 million of its citizens out of poverty, and India, too, has revealed that nearly 250 million people have been lifted out of multidimensional poverty. With purposeful leadership, Nigeria can achieve that”

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“Nigeria is in a demographic transition with a major problem which is that our population curve has far outpaced the hope and opportunity curve leaving us with no option than to expand our economic space if we must save our democracy. Unfortunately, the “youth bulge” has turned out not a blessing as it is only producing disaffected rebels instead of productive laborers. There is no Nigerian out there that doesn’t want change, but the problems are so consuming and absorbing that we fail to articulate what changes we need to adopt”

He said that more than two decades of unbroken democracy has not resulted in adequate security of lives and properties of the citizens of Nigeria, quality infrastructure, decent employment, access to qualitative education, health, shelter, food and water nor afforded the generality of people adequate standard of living.

“These are the economic and social rights that enable people to live with dignity and participate fully in society”

“I believe these are the factors that necessitated the choice of today’s theme, “Democracy and the free market economy” which is apt in the sense that when citizens lack access to their economic and social rights, they cannot fully participate in civic life and therefore can not do the work of democracy”

“But we must thank God for the freedom to engage in an open conversation about the near total absence of those rights that empower citizens of democracy, utilizing the freedom democracy offers to build the kind of society that better meets their needs and aspirations”

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“Nigerians have lost faith in the Naira as a store of value and that faith cannot be restored anytime soon, even the average Nigerian investor is now thinking of how to invest in ventures that will bring in USD returns. PMB’s currency swap with China didn’t work out for obvious reasons.

“The challenge before the government is how to unlock and make the USD locked up in private vaults in Nigeria begin to chase the Naira. That, to me, is the commonsensical solution.

“Government should improve inward remittances of funds by Nigerians in the Diaspora. Diaspora funds are excellent and reliable sources of funding development in several developing and emerging market economies. Nigeria must make an attractive value proposition to its citizens abroad to engender their confidence and attract remittance through proper channels”

“Government must also create and deploy a robust ecosystem of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to create millions of jobs, fuel high economic growth, build our foreign reserves, and strengthen our currency. I suggest the country should be subdivided into strategic economic zones, according to the natural economic endowment of each part of the country.

Dogara advised that North should be an Agric/Agro-Allied Zone, to concentrate on massive commercial farming involving sustainable transformation from rain fed to irrigated agriculture and manufacturing and supplies of agricultural plants and machinery, food processing, innovation and entrepreneurship.

“We must at all cost reduce the present poverty level and Government must lead the way by being very aggressive in the pursuit, design, and implementation of appropriate policies that would give birth to a robust ecosystem of MSMEs all over the country.

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