472 views | JEROME-MARIO UTOMI | December 14, 2019
Apart from the revelation by economists that globally, governments are ‘resource-and bandwidth-constrained’, our mind eye using available data also observes that Nigeria’s income has been on the increase since independence. As the income increases so do expenditure. But as expenditure is increasing, so has budget deficit been on the increase as well.
An unconstructive trend it seems, but such appalling episode is by no means unique to the public finance sector as recent happenings across the world also indicate that limited access to food, shortfalls in housing, extreme poverty, health challenges, infrastructural deficiency and environmental pollution have visibly added to the socioeconomic discourse the world, sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria in particular currently grapple with.
What, however, made the development newsy is that the world is facing these challenges at a time when policy objective in the 21st century is headed toward enhancing economic growth and improves the living condition of humanity, in a way that both protects the rights and opportunities of coming generations.
What a contradiction?
With this concern in mind, it hardly needs to be said that development has become a major policy focus within and among countries. Today, the drivers of change in the world are quite different from what they had been in the last decades.
Take Nigeria as an example, while the masses and all strata of government are currently at the receiving side, corporate organizations, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) are at the supply side in the race to achieve developments that are said to be sustainable.
Understanding this point is important as the scope of this piece broaden to accommodate challenges and practical realities. Particularly, as it is speculated by experts that come 2050, global consumption of food and energy is expected to double as the world population and income grow, while climate change is expected to have an adverse effect on both crop yield and a number of arable acres.
Of course, there are important limits that the government can go. This fact was recently amplified among stakeholders at a gathering in Lagos, where among other considerations stated that the governments in Nigeria at all levels can no longer single-handedly tackle the traditional but universal responsibility of provision of economic and infrastructural succour to the citizenry which the instrumentality of participatory democracy and the election of leaders confer on them. And, therefore, calls for unceasing private sector collaboration.
As a response to this mirage of challenge in the country, many interventionist groups came up. And worthy of mention for both practical and moral reasons are TY Danjuma Foundation, a Non-Governmental Foundation established by General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (RTD), a former Chief of Army Staff, Ex-Minister of Defence and Astute Business Man-with primary focus on –Health, Education and extreme poverty.
Specifically, spaced from helping the government perform its responsibility, there are other reasons (s) why the activities of this particular NGO gained attention and worth mentioning in this piece. Separate from being driven by the needs of others, the world will appreciate TY Danjuma and his Foundation more if a crucial attempt is made to seek explanation and provide answers to; why poverty and inequality evolve overtime on our shores?. Find forces that drive such ‘evil’’, the effort government is making to eradicate same, (if any).
When similar questions are placed in juxtaposition with the conscientious effort by this foundation to end extreme poverty and other socio-economic challenges on our shore, it will, without any shadow of the doubt lend credence to the above assertion but confirm what has been on the minds of Nigeria.
For example, going by the records, it factually supported that since inception in 2009, the foundation dedicates 70% of their total allocation to health and 30% to education, awarded about 3billion in grants to fund 280 projects across 31 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT. It has collaborated with 280 organizations so far to implement projects in health and education. Did over thirty million treatments in the control of neglected tropical diseases, where Nigerians suffer from 13 out of the 17 NTDs, identified by the World Health Organization(WHO), with over 8million beneficiaries of projects in hard to reach areas, with about 2.3million beneficiaries in 2018 alone. In 2018, the foundation gave 21NGOs grant of about 212million Naira in interventions in health which includes preventable blindness, free surgical missions, maternal and child health, support for IDPs, free medical missions and eradicating neglected tropical diseases, and operates a highly successful program for the eradication of river blindness in Taraba and Edo states.
From the above, there are two sets of separate but related comparative analysis to make. First, is that at a time when the government in Nigeria manifest signs of weakness to adequately fund the health sector or adhere to the United Nation Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] budgetary recommendation on education, such has become the appropriate time for the foundation to provide a leading example with 70% of their total allocation to health and 30% to education formula. Secondly and profound is that at a time when public funds are corruptly used for personal aggrandisement and public offices viewed as an opportunity for personal good, has become a riped time for the Foundation to render selfless service to Nigerians/humanity.
From the foregoing, I hold an opinion that just as the government is a decentralized body for the promotion and protection of the people’s life chances. So has the Foundation, in other words, becomes a platform for development that the government must support and partner with.
Regardless of what others may say, the world in which we now live is geographically one and ‘the challenge we face today as a nation is how to make it one in brotherhood’. What we urgently need is the development of world perspective to welcome every development opportunity that is not immoral. As I encourage the Foundation to do more in uplifting the life chances of Nigerians, I use the opportunity provided by this piece to congratulate General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (RTD), on his 82nd birthday.
Jerome-Mario Utomi(firstname.lastname@example.org), writes from Lagos.