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Soludo’s template for ending poverty in Anambra

Soludo’s template for ending poverty in Anambra
December 02
08:20 2023

Think for a moment that you are living in a Nigerian community where no one calls anybody for assistance in order to pay for basic necessities of life such as food, medical bills and shelter.  A society where poverty is almost zero. Though opinions are still divided amongst scholars on the possibility of having a zero-poverty society, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, the executive governor of Anambra State and a professor of economics, believes that it is possible to push the needle in terms of eradicating poverty in Anambra State.

Governor Soludo is not the only one who shares this mindset. The UN also set a goal for eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 in its 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Though the World Bank, in a recent report, has argued that this date might be unattainable because of the shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, there is no gainsaying that the increasing levels of poverty in Sub–Saharan Africa needs urgent attention.

Some economists also argue that it would be impossible to have a community with zero poverty. Some argue that not only that the level of investment required to achieve this could be enormous, having a scenario where the 8.1 billion people living on this planet are able to have a 24-hour access to electricity or own cars, for example, would significantly increase the demand for energy and put the earth under enormous pressure as a result of limited sources of oil and gas and resultant environmental pollution.

The obstacles to eradicating poverty are enormous. But the current administration in Anambra is not weighed down by these obstacles nor by arguments from naysayers. Governor Soludo says his government is for the poor and that he is not going to leave anyone behind in the development of Anambra State.

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Truly, the Soludo-led administration is pursuing policies to lift the poor out of poverty.

Today, in government owned schools in Anambra, primary education up to junior secondary school level is truly free. Students do not pay any hidden fee, levy or charge. Since education is one of the best solutions to eradicate poverty, this policy can really liberate the children of the poor. Research has shown that basic education received at that level – reading, writing and arithmetic – can open doors for the children of the poor.

On healthcare, the Soludo-led administration has reduced the potentially catastrophic out-of-pocket health spending and the possibility of people going into poverty as a result of health spending. Today in Anambra, pregnant women enjoy free antenatal and delivery services. Residents not only have improved access to healthcare workers, telemedicine has effectively been deployed all over the state. The state’s health insurance agency is also fully effective.

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In terms of urban renewal, a massive clean-up is underway at Okpoko – one of Africa’s biggest slums.  This clean-up has been extended to other areas of the state that had been hitherto inaccessible. A few days ago, Governor Soludo visited a community in Anambra State which is only accessible by boat and motor bikes. No governor has visited that community since the advent of civil rule in Nigeria.  This visit by the governor was to kick-start massive urban development in this community.

On agriculture, the current administration is empowering households through its Anambra State Oil and Coconut Palm Initiative in order for beneficiaries to own plantations.  It is expected that these seedlings, when matured, would create an ecosystem where an average beneficiary household could earn up to N1.5m to N3m per annum. This income, together with other side incomes, could take most indigent families out of poverty for life.

For a society that does not offer the kind of support one sees in Europe to its aged population, it was a pleasant surprise for many when the governor announced, a few days ago, that his administration would be building facilities, in 2024, that would take care of old and vulnerable people. The impact of poverty on aged people – who might not have the strength to work nor have people who care for them – is severe. Many aged people have suffered from poverty related mental illnesses and have been stigmatized as witches and wizards. This gesture by the governor will not only take vulnerable people who are above 65 years out of poverty in Anambra, it will also reduce the economic burden on their relatives.

The Governor Soludo-led administration is passionate about the poor and has deliberately set up policies that would ensure inclusive economic growth. The administration has big plans to industrialize Anambra and at the same time does not want to leave vulnerable people behind.

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Dr Nwankwo is the special adviser to Soludo on special projects.



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