Special Feature

The Irony of Fighting Poverty in Africa

Fighting poverty in Africa has long since been one of the top priorities of most of the political manifestos if not all in Africa. More importantly, in 2005, political leaders from Africa were among world leaders at the Millennium Development Goals summit or conference expressing their commitments to eradicating extreme poverty in Africa as one of the Goals. 

With the continual system of governance and other related issues that will be subsequently discussed in this article, my attention has been drawn to what has prompted the caption of this write up or article.

To begin with, the World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than US$1.25 per day, and moderate poverty as less than $2 a day. According to research still valid, it has been estimated that in 2008, 1.4 billion people had consumption levels below US$1.25 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than $2 a day. This phenomenondoubtlessly applies to developing continents to which Africa has since been ranked or classed.

No reasonable or level headed person knowledgeable or semi-knowledgeable about the poverty in Africa dare refute or challenge the below causes regardless of empirical statistics not mention:

1. Unemployment
2. Bad leadership/Poor governance
3. Corruption
4. Poverty is also resulting from Africa’s excessive reliance on foreign culture and products.
5. Poor economy
6. Illiteracy

All of these causes of poverty outlined by Samson Eyituoyo Liolio in his eloquent paper about eliminating poverty in Africa are not emerging or new phenomenon and have always top the political manifestos of ruling parties in Africa though often viewed as rhetorical. Take for contemporary examples.

In 2014, the ruling party of South Africa, African National Congress (ANC) campaign manifesto was job creation, rural development, land reform, food security, education, health, crime and corruption – all of which were the focal points of the ruling party’s previous campaign.

In 2012, Ghana’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) campaign manifesto focused on four thematic areas namely transparent and accountable government, strong economy for real job creation, investing in people and expanding infrastructure for growth.

In 2011, the ruling party of Liberia; Unity Party promised creation of job opportunities for more Liberians.

Although lost the just ended 2015elections, job creations, education, agriculture, health, infrastructures, growing the economy were highlighted among the recent campaign manifesto of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Nigeria.

In theory, it is no doubt that all of these manifestos significantly relate to fighting poverty in Africa. However, the extent to which poverty has been impacted is another topical argument that another article need to address.

Given the history of Bad leadership/Poor governance that account for poverty in Africa, it is ironical to hearing politicians expressing their commitment of fighting poverty. Imagine the irony ofa prolong regime that has corruption implication expressing the commitment of fighting poverty in Africa. Also think about conflict resulting from the same prolong regime that inextricably link to poverty. Does it clearly speak volume about the irony of fighting poverty?

Let, talk about good governance as a viable solution for fighting poverty in Africa. Think about this question. How can politicians express the commitment of fighting poverty when their actions arguably question the same commitment?

Without any attempt to sound ridiculous, but for the purpose of academism, permit me to cite some examples. According to Daniel H. (2015) article captioned “The Irony of Poverty in Nigeria Despite Having Rich Oil Reserves” argued that Nigeria being a decent economic producing nation in Africa that ranked 160th among 177 nations based on Human Development Index why there is a lot of poverty in this oil rich nation mainly related to rural-urban migration challenges? In answering this question, he catalogued common vices such as bribing and corruption in governmental agencies, all in the hopes of fostering meaningful economic changes to be the causes of poverty even though it has long since top the political campaign of ruling party including the PDP.

Next is Liberia. Recently, many of us observed the outcome of the Liberia Anticorruption Commission alleged US$25,000 corruption scandal against some senior members of the lower House of Representatives. Knowing the implication of accountability as one of the key pillars of good governance which of course is also a viable solution to curbing poverty, some of the very leaders wanting to fight poverty were in the fore front opposing the investigation to extent of dispensing disciplinary action against others concerned about good governance.

Another irony of fighting poverty in Africa is the inextricable relation between the position of politicians and poverty. On one will want to reject the argument that fighting poverty is not literally tie to the job of politicians. This is why it is often factored or captured in the all of their platforms purchased by the people who are convinced that it will substantially reduce poverty. Therefore, one cannot distance how fighting poverty promote politicians. However, because of its implications on the positions or ambitions of politicians, they will attempt to tackle the problem but not as it was strategically expressed or factored into their platforms. This is one of the reasons why in our opinion poverty continues to permeate the African society on the average.

By Ambrues M. Nebo
neboambrues@gmail.com/nebo1975@yahoo.com 0777531129/0888093805

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