In this interview, Ene Obi new Country Director ActionAid Nigeria, takes KEHINDE OSASONA through the organisation’s mission, achievements, quest for partnerships and glaring challenges in Nigeria’s communities which deserves immediate intervention.
Working in Nigeria
We are an anti-poverty agency that works for the eradication of poverty. We are presently working in no fewer than 30 countries and have existed for at least 20 years in Nigeria.
We are a very transparent organisation at different levels with governing board and general assembly which is made up of diverse Nigerians who are willing to volunteer.
As a matter of fact, our country’s strategic paper is “on social justice, we end poverty.” We believe that poverty can be eradicated.
We believe that the resources of Nigeria can be utilised and re-distributed for the common good of the people.
Actually, we have almost 100 staffers, but we work through partners. So, if we want to count staff, they are in multitudes in all the states where we operate and it is a team of very exciting patriotic Nigerians who are working tirelessly to ensure that our objectives are met.
We have over the years focused on the most vulnerable in the society, especially women and children.
We have focused the girl-child education, gender-based violence against children and women, women empowerment as a way of addressing various deteriorations plaguing the Nigerian society. The reason being that in emergency situations, there must be a vulnerable woman or child that needs rescue and attention.
For instance, if we are not gender-sensitive, all these areas would be missed because the live of a new born, for instance, might be jeopardised. So, whether or not a victim resides in a state where ActionAid is working or not, we would be there.
Lifting lives through community sponsorship
Our organisation has also introduced a community sponsorship programme in Nigeria where we sought funds for the purpose of lifting the lives of the community inhabitants.
In carrying out this task, the organisation seeks contributions from genuine donors who are willing to supports vulnerable children to make financial contributions for the sustenance of the programme.
In building a perpetual legacy, therefore, we have also introduced what we call community sponsorship. More like ‘Nigerian giving to Nigerians’ where people can give at least N2, 000 in a month totalling N24, 000 in a year.
We initiated this programme because we realised that N2, 000 as small as it seems can keep a child in school, especially in the rural areas, which incidentally happens to be our working environment.
Although, it took us many years to introduce it and even get approval, but now a lot of people are making contributions towards its existence.
We are looking forward to launching it in October when we are planning to properly introduce it as part of our social justice struggle.
It is our belief that any donor automatically becomes part of ActionAid family who in our opinion has given back to the society.
Tackling poverty and corruption
In tackling corruption, ActionAid found out that the worst impediment to corruption is corruption itself. We have equally found out through years of research that in trying to end corruption, the issue of corruption will hold you down to not being able to fight it.
Presently, we are championing a campaign that, if you are working in the area of poverty eradication, it is a must to fight corruption. For us, we believe in a country where you uphold dignity of every Nigerian including children.
As it were, the citizenship of every Nigerian is in crisis. This corruption also brings impediments to investors who no longer look at investing in Nigeria.
One of the good things that we see, however, is that President Muhammadu Buhari is willing to fight corruption. At least, he made a pronouncement that he believes in fighting corruption. So, we need to use that opportunity to ask him to do more and let those who are corrupt be appropriately sanctioned.
Knowing that poverty is staring us in the face, we at ActionAid have come up with a project on anti-corruption and we are working on it because of its importance.
When you go to the grassroots, you will know that poverty is real. I believe we are all from different communities and we have seen that poverty is real; people are dying of poverty because some people have decided to reduce this country to a looting environment.
Nevertheless, we have also realised that despite the fact that corruption is rampant in the country, there are many Nigerians that are not corrupt and are willing to be part of the change and we willing to let them know that they are not alone.
The fight against corruption, poverty and the continued social struggle, for us, is not a fight that you do alone. You need to do it like a team, network with each other like a broom and together like true Nigerians to win the war.
We need to remember that when we are in pieces, we are broken hence the need to buckle up to fight corruption using the opportunity that we were given.
The operation re-claim Nigeria
We need all hands on deck to reclaim and take Nigeria back. As it were, Nigeria has gone to another level. I am sure that a number of us seated witnessed the scenario when a seating senator in the second republic refuted the claim that Nigeria is poor, arguing that after all no one has eaten from the dustbin.
Meanwhile, in our generation we have witnessed the eating-from-the-dustbin. These are Nigeria’s children, my children and your children.
Celebrating 20 years in Nigeria
ActionAid is going to be 20 years this in October, this year. We have come a long way and we have touched many lives.
In popularising that day, we shall be calling on Blueprint management to join us in the grand finale of some of our activities slated for the coming event.
The media, for us, is a critical partner in the area of strategising. The media has helped in amplifying the fights against corruption and poverty. Corruption and poverty are some of the major areas where we will like to look at collaboration with your media organisation.
Now, we are saying ‘thank you’ and well done for the partnership over the years. As Nigerians, we are all trying to see what we can contribute and uphold the country called Nigeria.
We urge you to continue to partner ActionAid and relevant organisations in the fight against poverty and corruption in Nigeria. We implore your media organisation not to give up on the fight against corruption.