Oxfam, an international non-governmental organization in its enduring commitment to creating a world without poverty where people are capable of building a livelihood, in collaboration with BudgIt Information Technology Network Lagos, on Tuesday held a media chat/conference with relevant stakeholders and members of the press in Lagos to discuss the sundry options and possibilities to tackling inequalities by achieving food for all and financing for development.
The theme for the program is: Even it up: Tackling inequality in Nigeria through analysis and advocacy, with Right To Food ( R2F ) and Financing for Development ( F4D ) being chief in the discussion. Oxfam, which launched and implemented the strategic partnership programme in 25 countries in 2015 has three basic theories for change: Right to food, conflict and fragility and financing for development.
According to Mr. Celestine Okwudili Odo, Coordinator of private & public sector transparency & accountability coordinator ( Oxfam ), “the organization has five (5) pathways to change: improved policies of government on tax and budget, improved policies of private sector on tax, wages and corporate social responsibility, increased citizen’s voice, stronger and wider alliances across the country.
According to him, Oxfam’s strategy includes “research, lobby and advocacy, citizens mobilization and enlightenment, networking and alliance building, capacity building for the civil society and the government.
“Other local partners include; ActionAid Abuja, Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group ( NDBUMOG ), BudgIT Information Technology Network Lagos, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre ( CISLAC ), KEBETKACHE Women Development and Resources Centre, HEDA Lagos, Farm and Infrastructure Foundation ( FIF ) and Nigeria Association of Nigeria Traders ( NANTS ).”
Oxfam’s sundry successes includes: Sponsor and lobby for the Right To Food ( R2F ) Bill that is currently before the National Assembly ( NASS ) and has passed Second Reading in the House of Representatives and now on the table of Constitutional Review Committee of the House, over 40,000 Nigerians mainly youths and small-scale farmers mobilized to campaign for increase funding and investment in the agricultural sector, facilitation and mobilization of small-scale farmers to access loans, continues advocacy for the implementation of new National Tax Policy and the Voluntary Income AND Asset Declaration Scheme – VAIDS, and tax amnesty window for tax defaulters towards stopping illicit financial flows and revenue leakages for the government, amongst other successes.
According to Mr. Celestine, Data collection and Analysis is important to generating contents for advocacy and implementation.
Explaining the concept of the Right To Food (R2F) Bill, Mrs. Abiola Bayode from Farm and Infrastructure Foundation ( FIF ) said, “It is a human right bill which protects people from hunger.”
She further said, “The challenge is that the government sees food as a need and not a human right. We want to see that the right to food is explicitly stated in chapter four (4) of the Nigerian constitution; this will make the government more accountable on food security in Nigeria.
“It is therefore not about distributing food free of charge to all Nigerians, but a necessity to protect the vulnerable people by creating an enabling environment.”
In addressing some of the challenges encountered in the implementation of the programmes, Mrs. Emem Okon said, “it has been noticed that community needs most often do not get included in the state and federal government budgets.
“Therefore, we are training members of communities on how to conduct needs assessment. We also train government agencies, parastatals and ministries on community needs assessment to ensure that the extant or future budgets include the needs of the people.”
Other representatives of stakeholders present at the conference were: Mr. Gabriel Okeowo ( General Manager, BudgIT ), Mr. Kolawole Banwo ( CISLAC ), Mr. Peter Bayode ( FIF ), Mrs. Emem Okon (KEBETKACHE Women Development and Resources Centre), Mr. Azubuike Nwokoye (ActionAid Abuja ), amonst others.