Bob Geldof guest-edited Sunday’s edition of the Italian publication La Stampa. In the coming days we’ll be posting English language versions of the featured articles, including this one from Alhaji Ado Bayero:
As a religious leader in my country, the most populous in Africa, I have come to understand the strong relationship between social and economic welfare and the establishment of equality and fairness in relationships. I have seen peace eroded by insecurity, social injustice, economic inequality, political and religious radicalism. A hungry man they say is an angry man. So attention must be focused on building economic welfare that promotes economic and social justice and ensures peace.
It has been argued that Africa has in the last couple of years achieved some success in the fight against poverty. But with the recent world economic meltdown from which the continent is not immune, these successes seem set to be eroded unless some drastic measures are taken by African governments. In the case of my country, Nigeria, previous policies aimed at poverty alleviation seem to have had limited success due to poor implementation and limited partnerships. But there is a policy that holds the key to success in the fight against poverty and that is microfinance. Poverty is defined as the state of being poor i.e. the inability to earn income necessary to be able to afford the basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.
Microfinance offers an incredible tool for helping the poor work their way to a life of sustainability, opportunity and ultimately economic self empowerment. Nigerian men and women are known throughout history to be industrious but the modern economy has made access to finance (no matter how little) extremely necessary for self reliance.
Self reliance is an important factor in the consideration of the relationship between poverty and peace. The absence of violence, hostility or aggression provides the basis for healthy peaceful inter personal relationships. In the context of social and economic welfare, this necessitates the establishment of equality and fairness in relationships.
The relationship between Africa and Italy and the rest of Europe can be a fruitful and fair one. Our cultures have much in common. Whether Muslim or Christian, Nigerian or Italian, we can abide by the same values, the same love for our families, the same strong sense of community. What we look for from Europe is a fair partnership based on mutual respect and a commitment to tackling poverty.
Nigeria and the rest of Africa can only achieve this if we work with partners who are interested in promoting our self reliance and not just giving handouts. No donor can lift the continent out of poverty with handouts, no matter how well intentioned it is. Africa has to climb out of poverty itself. The G8 can give support and help us build the enabling environment for interventions like micro finance to flourish. Give a man a fish and he will eat for one day but give him a net and he will eat forever.
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