Nigeria, the West African country widely regarded as a giant in the African continent has come under the hammer of a global confederation of 19 organisations working together with partners and local communities in more than 90 countries, Oxfam International.
Oxfam whose work in Nigeria focuses on: Economic justice and improving livelihoods, gender justice and female leadership, good governance and the Niger Delta, as well as disaster risk reduction and responding to humanitarian crises says the country manifests an array of contradictions.
According to the group, Nigeria is a rich country of poor people and decaying infrastructure;, ‘’though the sixth largest producer of oil in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Nigeria imports fuel and contends with regular fuel scarcity; and it has about 79 million hectares of arable land, and over three million hectares of irrigable land.’’
Continuing, the group said on their website that with a population of over 180 million, ‘’Nigeria is endowed with huge human and natural resources. However, in 2010, 52 percent of the population lived in rural areas and 64 percent of the population on less than $1.00 per day.’’
Nigeria is however, a major contributor to peacekeeping in the region, playing a central role in the West Africa regional ECOWAS body, and contributing 70% to its budget and hosting the Secretariat in Abuja.
On the political front, the country returned to civil rule in 1999 and has since maintained a democratic government ushering in an era of opportunity for people-driven development, poverty reduction and wealth creation.
Oxfam noted that until the 1960s and prior to the oil boom, Nigeria was amongst the world’s leading producers, a net exporter of agricultural products including cocoa, groundnut, rubber, cotton, hides and skin, Yet today Nigeria is a net importer of raw materials and food, and currently faces the risk of food crisis.
‘’Though it is the main generator of foreign exchange and government revenues, the Niger Delta region remains one of the most neglected regions in Nigeria. It suffers from the environmental impact of oil production on agriculture and fishing, traditionally sources of livelihood.
‘’The number of elected women in politics, at less than 7% remains the lowest in West Africa. The country has however made strides in appointing women to key positions never before held by women, including the strategic ministries of Finance and Petroleum, as well as Education and Aviation.
‘’Nonetheless, there are concerns about achieving the MDG goals with human, women’s and children’s rights still widely violated. Central to our work is the belief that power relations need to change to enable poor people to demand and claim their rights.
‘’Oxfam’s vision for Nigeria includes a transparent and accountable government, active citizens, and private sector that works toward shared growth that is equitable to meet the needs of the people, especially the vulnerable poor.
‘’To this achieve this we work with a wide variety of partner and allies, such as community organisations and regional groups at the local, state and national levels. Oxfam’s work in Nigeria focuses primarily on improving livelihoods, women’s rights, and good governance’’, the group said.