Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Civil Rights Concern (CRC), a non-governmental organisation and a group of other stakeholders from the academic sector, National and State associations, have raised an alarm over the rising poverty and debt profile of Nigeria.
At a one-day meeting which was a prelude to a campaign on productive and sustainable debt financing of public programmes in Nigeria, the stakeholders expressed worry that despite the growing debt profile of the country, poverty level is still rising, a situation they said shows unproductivity nature of the debts.
Rising debt profile according to the stakeholders should reduce poverty level through creation of employment and empowerment.
They also said loans taken by the government at all levels should be spent on productive purposes that will reduce the poverty level.
The stakeholders at the meeting also expressed worry that Anambra State with a population of over six million people has 44.2% underemployed persons and 16.5% unemployed persons.
According to them, the poor educational system that has refused to offer skills to graduates of different schools is responsible for the high rate of unemployment and underemployment in the state.
The collapse of companies and industries that used to give quality employment was also blamed for the high rate of unemployment in Anambra State in particular and South-East in general.
They however expressed urgent need for civil societies to engage the system to make the political leaders spend the loan taken for productive purposes.
Addressing newsmen, the convener and CRC Executive Director, Okey Onyeka, noted that debts should not only be sustainable but also add value in terms of capacity to people such that people would have good life.
“There are so much suffering in the state and the country while government debts are rising everyday. That is why we brought stakeholders to brainstorm around matters concerning debt.
“Overtime we discovered that our debts are also rising, and poverty is also rising in the country. We are asking the question if rising debts and poverty is a souvenir to Nigerians. We are concerned that debt ought to spur capacity and improve productivity in Nigeria. But the truth is that the reverse is the case.”
Speaking further, Onyeka said “We are developing indicators to assess government performance in the area of debt. These are things we look at to know if government is on the right track in the use of debt in the country and state.”
He also said CRC is looking at financial data of the state, the poverty map and index, debts across the South-East zone, poverty index in South-East and across the country.”