ActionAid Nigeria recognises the efforts by the current administration to take the country forward, particularly at an unprecedented time when the world is battling a pandemic.
ActionAid Nigeria has deemed it fit to make the following comments: observations, and recommendations on the State of the Nation as it affects women, girls, PWDs and communities.
- The cases of COVID-19 have continued to spiral in the country. Despite the COVID-19 Disease Health Protection 2021 law which mandates the use of face mask in public places, citizens are yet to fully comply to the COVID-19 protocols, as Nigerians are seen on the streets and at markets without facemasks. Impromptu regulations such as NIN registration has put many Nigerians on the edge and at risk of contracting the deadly virus, as overcrowding has been reported for many months running, at many registration outlets. Though the Federal Government of Nigeria has set up online registration portal and house to house registration for administration of the doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccinations received on March 2nd 2021, the strategy to ensure the country ‘Leave no one behind’ is still sketchy as the negative myths on the vaccines has continued to thrive.
- Insecurity is still on the rise in Nigeria, with many records of insurgency attacks, kidnapping, armed banditry abductions and killings, with scores of deaths both within the military and civilians, especially in the Northern and central part of the country. The rising cases of abduction of school children is alarming and will further disparage stakeholders’ efforts at reducing the rate of out-of-school children in Nigeria, particularly, the girl-child. Schools are now seemingly unsafe for girls and give parents undue justification to force their girl-child into an early marriage.
- Nigeria is yet to make giant strides in its poverty alleviation efforts with another 5million Nigerians predicted to fall below the poverty line because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As recession looms, poverty alleviation schemes put in place by the government have been rendered ineffective largely due to corruption, uneven distribution, and lack of accountability at different levels.
- Nigeria is currently using 50% of its revenue to service debts, compared to the average 17% for other African countries. Despite the huge figure of our debts, there are not enough infrastructures to show for it as many Nigerians remain in abject poverty. Health workers are protesting non-payment of allowances, no stable electricity, and the state of most Nigerian roads are still deplorable.
- The roles of the Local Government Areas, as the third tier of government in the Nigerian 1999 constitution includes provision of infrastructural developments at the grassroots. Yet, state governments have continued to usurp the powers and functions attributed to the local governments and only acknowledge them as a subunit of the state with no autonomy.
- ActionAid Nigeria calls on the Federal Government to set a realistic timeline for the NIN registration to prevent a pandemonium and overcrowding of public places such as the registration centres. We implore all citizens to adhere to the minimum standards of COVID-19 prevention, wearing facemask, handwashing and maintaining physical distance in public spaces. We also recommend that the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) ensure its multifaceted approach to registration & administration of the COVID19 vaccine be inclusive, recognising citizenry in excluded communities; whilst the National Orientation Agency works with other stakeholders to eliminate perceived myths about the COVID19 vaccine.
- We recommend the overhauling and restructuring of the security architecture to create real changes and avoid putting an old wine in a new bottle; funding, equipment, boosting the morale of the men in the field among others should also be revisited. Also, community ownership is key to winning the insecurity battle as evidenced by ActionAid Nigeria and state partners Community Action Response Teams (CARTs) piloted in 24 communities in Kogi and Nasarawa state. ActionAid Nigeria calls on State Government to prioritise improved security for children in schools and a quality educational system. We also call on security agencies to adopt intelligence, power, and non-financial negotiation to bring back the remaining 112 missing Chibok girls and 1 Dapchi girl, Leah Shuaibu.
- On anti-corruption, action should be matched with rhetoric. Although the Framework for the Management of COVID-19 Funds was established, emergency spending creates opportunity for corruption to thrive as seen in the case of the NDDC. We call on the federal government, anticorruption agencies to ensure the implementation of emergency fund management protocols and bring defaulters to book. Government poverty alleviation programmes should also be implemented with utmost transparency and accountability. Full publication of government allocation to tiers of government should implemented.
- We admonish the Federal and State Governments to expedite actions to make local government councils autonomous to fast-track rural development, strengthen agriculture, create employment to reduce rural-urban migration.
- To reduce Nigeria’s debt profile, the government must urgently close all leakages along the revenue collection value chains, swiftly reduce the cost of governance at all level of the polity and expediate the process of diversifying the economy.
SIGNED: Ene Obi, Country Director.
ActionAid Nigeria is a national non-governmental, non-partisan, non-religious, civil society organisation, and an affiliate member of the ActionAid International Federation with presence in 45 countries. It works in solidarity with people living in poverty and exclusion to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication towards achieving a just, equitable and sustainable world in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty and all forms of oppression.
CONTACT - Lola Ayanda - Communications Coordinator - ActionAid Nigeria | Tel: +234(0)8099101428