Oxfam Nigeria, a non-profit organisation, says the incoming government should take steps to reduce hunger and alleviate poverty in the country.
In a statement Vincent Ahonsi, Oxfam country director, raised concern over the setback in funds allocated to Nigeria’s education, health, and agricultural sectors.
Ahonsi said the incoming government should focus on tackling discrimination against women and persons living with disabilities in the country.
“The incoming government needs to take urgent steps towards ending hunger, reducing inequality, and reducing the number of Nigerians living below the poverty line,” the statement reads.
“To stimulate economic recovery, the new government needs to realize that small & medium enterprises (SMEs) are key to building an economy that is fair and just as they constitute a sustainable approach to tackling the developmental challenges that the economy is facing.
“The SME sector has proven to be the backbone of major developed and emerging economies, as an important contributor to employment and economic growth.”
While quoting the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Oxfam director, said SMEs in Nigeria contributed 48 percent of national GDP, accounted for 96 percent of businesses, and 84 percent of employment.
He said networking and collaboration are important and essential for building a healthy SME ecosystem and unlocking the opportunities that it holds.
“Though significant growth has been achieved in the SME sector recently, there is still much to be done to further leverage the opportunities the ecosystem presents,” he said.
“To facilitate an inclusive business environment, where women and youth are empowered to participate, the incoming government needs to provide the enabling environment, the technical support and training that the SMEs need.
“To narrow the wide education inequality between the rich and the poor the incoming government needs to invest significantly in free universal education, with an emphasis on improving access to high-quality primary and secondary education.
“The incoming government should as a matter of priority invest a minimum of 15 percent of the national budget in the health sector.
“It should also allocate at least 10 percent of the budget to agriculture, encouraging women and youth in agricultural businesses with farm inputs.
“It should develop a national agricultural investment plan that is gender-sensitive and climate-proof, which seeks primarily to support small-scale farmers in non-cash crop sectors.”
The Oxfam country director said there is a need to generate more income and reduce revenue loss through tax.
“To consider adding a “solidarity” tax on top of these to cover the additional needs for post-COVID recovery by taking steps to tax wealth including raising the taxes on financial transactions, inheritance and gifts, and capital gains,” he added.
“There is a need to continue to prevent illicit financial flows, from corrupt, or criminally inclined individuals or corporations. Recipient nations should be prevailed upon to take measures to discourage illicit financial flows into their countries by enforcing more diligence checks.
“The incoming government should tackle sexist laws that discriminate against women and create new gender-equal laws to uproot violence and discrimination.
“All sectors of the society should urgently define policies that will ensure that women, people living with disabilities (PWDs) and other vulnerable groups are represented in all decision-making spaces.”