From CLEMENT ADEYI, Osogbo
Efforts were recently intensified in Osun State to eradicate poverty and make life meaningful. At a one-day event in Osogbo, the state capital, strategies in finding lasting solutions to poverty were discussed by stakeholders including Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
Mrs. Funmi Abokede, General Manager, Osun Community and Social Development Project (Osun-CSDP), organizer of the programme, lamented that poverty had remained an age-long albatross among the people of the state, leaving them vulnerable to different dehumanising conditions such as unemployment, diseases, hunger among others.
She stated that it was the need to draw a road map, agenda and programmes that could eradicate poverty that necessitated the programme. The high point of the event was the Community Fair where farmers, traders, artisans, market men and women showcased crafts and farm produce including ofada rice, beans, plantains, banana, yams, cocoa, vegetables, oranges, cassava, gari, millet, wheat, tomatoes and pepper.
Also there were indigenous and local products, including fabrics such as aso-oke, adire, ankara, beads, hats, rubber and leather shoes and sandals. Domestic animals such as goats, chickens and turkey were also showcased.
One of the exhibitors from Sekona community, Mrs Yemisi Olapade, told Daily Sun that since she retired from the civil service 10 years ago and took to farming, she had nothing to regret. She said life became better for her as she no longer waits for salary to meet up with her financial obligations. She added that if she is still in service until the current economic recession, her two children in tertiary institutions would have withdrawn over inability to pay their fees, being a widow.
Another exhibitor, Ismaila Olakunle, from Igbona community said: “I am a farmer and proud to be one. My family and I depend on my farm produce for survival. We eat the products from the farms. In fact, we don’t buy foodstuffs in my family, except when we want to eat the oyinbo rice.
“But because it is very expensive nowadays, we have been eating local rice. I sell these farm produce that you can see here now. That was what I depended on to train two of my children from the university.”
A couple said: “For this country to eradicate poverty, everybody should try as much as possible to be productive, especially in the area of agriculture. People should also patronise local and indigenous products since foreign products are very expensive now because of the current economic recession.”
Mr. Odunuga Olaosebikan, one of the exhibitors with disabilities exhibited his leather-made sandals and shoes. He expressed delight that it was his vision to battle poverty and avoid dependence on family members or street begging that fired his passion to go into the trade a few years ago.
Abokede said the exhibition became imperative to create awareness among the exhibitors and the community people who came from different communities on the need to double their efforts in the production of the products as a means for self sustenance and as an avenue to overcome poverty.
She added that the fair was also intended to enlighten not only rural dwellers but also people that live in the towns and cities to shift patronage from foreign goods that are very expensive to local products that are relatively cheaper to afford, noting that it would also go a long way in improving the economy of the state:
“Poverty is believed to be a curse and consequence of marginalization and social exclusion. Osun-CSDP decided to organize the community fair to promote poverty eradication and destitution in the state in particular and Nigeria in general which is in line with the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/196 of December 22, 1992.”
As a part of proactive measures to eradicate the menace, Aregbesola urged Nigerians to stop eating imported rice and return to the pre-1980 era when indigenous rice was eaten only during festive periods:
“Rice was not a staple food in Nigeria before 1980. Ofada rice was the only rice eaten during festivities. We should return to the time when we were eating indigenous rice. We have cassava, plantain, beans and yams. We should return to the time when we were eating our indigenous foods.”
The governor also advised them to embrace family planning and limit the number of children to reduce cost of living. Aregbesola who identified laziness as a serious factor responsible for poverty, urged every adult to be productive, especially in the agricultural sector to ensure abundant availability of food.
Chairman, Forum of Chairmen of Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities in the South West, Mr. Kehinde Onitiju, said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was making arrangements towards giving loans to people with disabilities to assist them in starting small scale businesses to overcome poverty.