Efforts by governments to eradicate poverty and foster improved socio-economic life of Nigerians may remain a mirage unless an inclusive structural economic redemption strategy is adopted, Professor of Sociology, Oka Martin Obono has said.
He made the assertion yesterday in Lagos at the 20th anniversary public lecture of the Human Development Initiatives (HDI) held at the University of Lagos.
Titled: "The Structural Management of Inequality: Pathways to Inclusive Growth and Development," the Director, Centre for Human Resources Development, University of Ibadan, frowned at society's complacency with sublimed systems of inequality, saying, it had attained a dangerous dimension to the extent that the oddity is hardly noticed.
Obono said Nigeria was widely divided due to its massive income differentials, adding that affirmative actions, social protection mechanisms and concerted efforts at economic equality, among others would resolve the massive income differences, underdevelopment, violence and discontent.
"Poverty is not only central to understanding prospects for peace. It is the first of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are the building blocks for peace. Without a plan for eradicating inequality, a major by-product of poverty, hopes for peace remains illusory. Poverty is the social-economic symptom of a political malady whose main indicator is public corruption," he added.
Speaking further, he decried what he described as the "paradox of the Nigerian state" reflected in "an interminable democratic transition without signs of institutional, structural, or ethical change. It spent billions of dollars on electoral processes that have added little or no values to the lives of ordinary citizen. Inequality remains. It has not ceased."
As a way out, he proposed "changing geo-political zones to geo-economic zones" and advised that the government should motivate people towards driving internal production in areas of strength, self sufficiency, trade and export promotion, which he said were the factors of national unity and sustainable development.
The Executive Director, HDI, Mrs. Olufunso Owasanoye said the group has crusaded against corruption and impunity, engaged wanting governmental institutions in legal brawl and has advocated social reforms to address the needs of vulnerable people in its 20 years of existence. Equally, it has intervened for widows denied of rights to inheritance, their children, orphans and victims of sexual abuse.
The Chairperson, HDI Board of Trustees (BoT), Prof. Sarah Oloko assured that the body would rekindle efforts at key advocacy areas such as counselling programmes to shape the younger generation and help them through adolescence.