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Poverty is Nigeria’s Number One Problem – Dr. Osaren Emokpae

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Poverty is Nigeria’s Number One Problem – Dr. Osaren Emokpae

In Nigeria today, our major problem is poverty, people can hardly eat and it was claimed there was 3% economic grow last year. If you have 3% economic growth, who did that 3% benefit? In the case of Nigeria, only 14% benefited and why is it that only 14% will benefit? Is that a fair country?

Dr. Osaren Emokpae made this revelation known while speaking as the Visitor and President, Ed-John Institute of Management and Technology during the institute 2023/2024 Convocation Ceremony held at the their Isiwu, Itoikin Road, Ikorodu, Lagos campus.

Dr. Osaren Emokpae, the Visitor/President, Ed-John Institute of Management & Technology, Ikorodu

 

“Let’s call a spade a spade, poverty is the number one problem of Nigeria. And if we can deal with it, it’s all about economic growth and the distribution of that growth. It is an error, when people say security is number one problem in Nigeria, it is not, its poverty.  Because it is poverty that will make a man to go into kidnapping or any other crime, you can’t find a man that is doing well to go and stay on the road, carrying gun and want to kidnap somebody”, he declared.

I see people in this country with so much wealth, but I see economic dualism. You stand and just see wealth here and see poverty there. That’s economic dualism. Why should society be like that? A lot of people serve the people on the right. They would come from one area and be servants in another area. In the evening, they are not allowed to sleep where they had served; they must go back to their area. Is that a fair society? That is really annoying, we need Development Economics.

Lamenting on the present economic situation where we have more poor people in Nigeria and you think you can solve the issue of kidnapping, cattle rustling and stop the issue of stealing? It’s for the interest interest of the rich to make this poor to rise. That’s when they can sleep with their two eyes closed. If they do not do it, they will never sleep with your two eyes closed. You are afraid they can carry you anytime. It is the interest of all of us to take people who are down up. Even, the standard of living has fallen, the middle class that was able to do whatever they want are collapsing to poverty. That is the situation we found ourselves and the state in which we are in. 

“So many things are going wrong in this country, subsidies are in many countries. Why would they take it away here and quickly remove it without touching it through economist to know how things are related? Now see what has happened to Nigeria in the last one year. It’s like we are in a war time. Later, they said, we can do palliative things, we can do this and that, and have done well. But does it really touch the life of average Nigerian? That’s the challenge”.

The Visitor/President & wife with members of the faculty

Advising the government, Dr. Omokpae said, Every time IMF brought a suggestion and Nigeria followed it, it always ended in failure, because, it was IMF intention during Babangida’s regime to kill Nigeria. But the World Bank would come and say, how do we ameliorate these things? They tend to focus more on development than growth, IMF focuses on growth. To them, it doesn’t matter if everybody dies. That is why any Nigerian leader that focuses on IMF as a partner, is a leader that does not mean well for this country.  IMF does not love Nigeria; we should not be listening to IMF. The only institution that has a bit of some support for Nigeria is only the World Bank, not IMF.

Elaborating the uniqueness of Ed-John IMT, the Visitor explained that, the unique things we are trying to do here are two ways. One, our major interest is to train people to be employers of labor, because there’s .unemployment in Nigeria, we emphasize on entrepreneurial. Different from just learning whatever course, it is skills of how to become an entrepreneur that is sustainable and I’m happy that universities are also doing it. The more we have people doing that, the better it is for this country.

L-r: Dr. Amuzie Akpaka, Rector, ED-JOHN IMT, Rev. Theophilus Ihejirika, VC ED-JOHN IMT, Dr. Kola Godonu, LASUSTECH (Guest Lecturer), Dr. Osaren Emokpae, Visitor & Founder, ED-JOHN IMT, Mrs. Osar-Emokpae Enoma, Chairperson, ED-JOHN IMT BOT; Dr. Iyi Uwadaie, Chairman Governing Council, ED-JOHN IMT, Dr. Biodun Okeowo, Deputy Rector (Academics) ED-JOHN IMT, Dr. Kayode Okunade, Deputy Dean Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, Caleb University and Ms Shola Fatoye, Registrar, ED-JOHN IMT during the 2023/2024 Matriculation Ceremony of Ed-John Institute of Management & Technology held at Isiwu, Itoikin Road, Ikorodu, Lagos campus of the institute.

Secondly, we are not mindful of the environment where the poor wanted to take facility even when they have ideas, they don’t get the money. They asked them for collateral they could not provide. And we decided that, anyone who leaves this school and in that situation, we will give them a job, to enable them, maybe two years or three years, to get to a state they will be able to stand on their own to start their own company or if they choose to take a career with any of our organization, they are free. That is something we don’t find anywhere, as I’m not aware of any organization doing that now, which promise students the very day they enter, that by the time they graduate, they will never look for where to do their IT.

He stated further, where they don’t have people, students have to pay money for IT and they are not even paid. All IT students here that didn’t get somewhere, are being paid N50,000 to do IT in any of our organizations. Just stipend to do IT, we now said, if they leave and go to workplaces without getting anything, what we will do is to get them a job. “I believe those two things are what make the institute unique. You don’t need to do one big something to alleviate poverty, that’s one way to address a bit of poverty”, he said.

L-r: Dr. Amuzie Akpaka, Rector, ED-JOHN IMT, Rev. Theophilus Ihejirika, VC ED-JOHN IMT, Dr. Kola Godonu, LASUSTECH (Guest Lecturer), Dr. Osaren Emokpae, Visitor & Founder, ED-JOHN IMT, Mrs. Osar-Emokpae Enoma, Chairperson, ED-JOHN IMT BOT; Dr. Iyi Uwadaie, Chairman Governing Council, ED-JOHN IMT, Dr. Biodun Okeowo, Deputy Rector (Academics) ED-JOHN IMT, Dr. Kayode Okunade, Deputy Dean Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, Caleb University and Ms Shola Fatoye, Registrar, ED-JOHN IMT during the 2023/2024 Matriculation Ceremony of Ed-John Institute of Management & Technology held at Isiwu, Itoikin Road, Ikorodu, Lagos campus of the institute.

“You can’t address people who are homeless, who leave university and feel frustrated. They leave school feel so frustrated after all their studies with nothing to do. Here, we guarantee them that when you leave there will be something for you to do. We will do everything, that’s why the kind of governing board we have here include the chairman of GTB, the founder of Tantalizer and others, so that when they leave, among these organizations, depending on their choice, we can get them into work. That is why there is diversity of that board”, he added.

Dr. Osaren condemned the act of lateness for appointment and berated the kind of big man syndrome, we have in this country, where, the big man will walk in late to a programme or meetings and still expect people to stand up for him. “Leadership is about influence, not about title, I do not permit myself to come late somewhere to say, sorry, there was a traffic. Lagos has always, been known for traffic”. When someone comes and says, there was traffic, that’s why I came late, it is high level of indiscipline and irresponsibility. “A programme of one hour and a place that will take you one hour, set out three hours earlier, except, you don’t want to go”, he admonished.

Meanwhile, the guest lecturer of the day, Dr, Kola Godonu from former LASPOTECH, now Lagos State University of Science and Technology (LASUTECH) has made a call for Technical education in Nigeria to develop the workforce that is needed to move Nigeria forward. 

“I identify the factors as the government has a role to play, institutions have their role to play, and the students cannot look down on vocational training. They have to see, develop their skills, fit for the workplace, and then they’ll be employable.” Sometimes you go for high graduates that just finished and will not fit into the workplace, will not fit into the system, they will ask to do certain things and they will not be able to do it. “But vocational and technical training helps our students to not only develop the skills, but also they have the boldness, the attitude, to go in there and do the work”, he said.