• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Leaving No One Behind- The Long Walk To A New Nigeria


The month of October commenced with the celebration of our Nation’s 60th Independence; segued into a nationwide protest against police brutality, accompanied by a horrific and unforgettable night at the Lekki toll gate where unarmed protesters were shot at leaving many injured and some losing their lives and ended with businesses and homes being looted and plundered by hoodlums.

There has also been rising unrest in Namibia, Congo and Cameroun with citizens fighting against rape, sexual assault and multiple injustices in these nations. The question of what next is echoing in the hearts, lips and social media handles of Nigerians as we desperately looking to make sense of all that has happened and how we can continue the fight for a new Nigeria.

Our nation’s inflation rate has maintained its month-on-month upward trajectory for 14 months and currently stands at 13.71%, prices of food keep rising and the nation is plagued by sadness, frustration and lack of trust in the competence and integrity of our leaders. What really is next for us as a nation especially as a youth who still resists the allure of another passport and intends to work towards building a new Nigeria? I will say Social Sector Development!

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In Nigeria today, there is a wide gulf between those that enjoy a decent quality of urban life and those that don’t. The vast majority of households, especially those in informal settlements, live in overcrowded conditions, sometimes located in areas which do not provide adequate defences against chronic poverty, frustration, crime and health hazards. This marginalized population that share fences with the middle class and aspiring- upper class.

Guess where the hoodlums looting businesses and attacking middle-class individuals at home come from? These underdeveloped peri-urban communities. Our continuous failure to develop these communities will forever leave us with a ticking time bomb that resets itself after detonation.
Growth inclusiveness should be the prime agenda for a Nation’s economic development policy as it prioritises the social sector development, an approach which ensures rapid and sustained growth across all sectors.

The incidents in the last week following the looting and ‘palliative” hunt in different parts of the country is a clarion call for us to fight poverty, provide leadership/mentorship, create jobs and better opportunities at grassroot levels. This goes beyond social safety programmes implemented by the government that have not addressed the real issues at the grassroots.

As a social development practitioner at the grassroots, I will enjoin others to find newer and innovative ways to solve the problems we have identified. We need to work less in silos and embrace collaboration in reaching more people in lesser time.
For those who intend to go into public office at grassroots, state and federal levels, the time to start the work is now. There is an urgent need to work with CSOs and other practitioners in strategizing on various programmes to reach this marginalised population. We should see crowdfunding platforms busy with different initiatives.

The work will not be a walk-through as the rot is deep but with consistency, commitment, determination and innovation we will work in creating sustainable changes for them.
I will love to see various influencers going into their local communities to sensitize about the power of a citizen and reshaping the mindset of ethnic bias often wielded as a weapon by politicians. Get on the radio and talk to people in your local language, create flyers, organise and host town halls meetings; find local influencers in these communities and get their buy-in. We need to sell this new Nigeria as the best thing since sliced bread.
We cannot afford to leave anyone behind as we are forging ahead with our plans for a new Nigeria and in doing this we will be curing the illness and not treating its symptoms.

Onyeka is an experienced financial service professional with 10+ years of experience in financial inclusion, consumer-centric digital banking and public sector engagement. She is the founder and Chief Impact officer at Rendra foundation, a fintech social enterprise working actively to advocate
for and drive inclusive finance for low-income and forcibly displaced women in Nigeria to enable them create sustainable changes for themselves, families and communities. Through her work in financial services, Onyeka has brought in over 2,000 women into the formal financial services
sector and believes that empowered women birth stronger communities and ultimately stronger
Onyeka is a Cherie Blaire and YALI RLC Alumnus and was featured in The Spark Magazine 2020 Wonder Woman Edition in recognition of the Nigerian women breaking barriers and empowering low-income women and recognized by Donors for Africa as one of the leading 100 African women
in development.
Onyeka provides thought leadership to policy makers and stakeholders through several articles and publications which have been featured by The Africa Report, Business Day and Guardian Nigeria. She also volunteers as a Mentor on Mentor X Africa and an editor, with Inclusion Times
– a leading financial and digital inclusion media platform.