The 47th Inaugural Lecturer of the University, Professor Carolyn Afolami, has called on the government to focus its attention on rapid industrialisation for sustainable national development. This could be achieved by according agriculture its pride of place by engendering good policies, particularly, those that would make agriculture attractive to the teeming unemployed youths in the country. Delivering her lecture titled, “Multidimensional Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria and National Development: The Inseparable Siamese Twins”, Professor Afolami, lamented that despite the efforts made at the national and international levels to eradicate poverty and hunger in line with the Millennium Development Goals, about 1.2 billion people, which constitute about one-eighth of the world population, still live in extreme poverty around the world.

The Don described poverty as “synonymous to not having a job or a means of livelihood, creating the fear of the future and having to live from hand to mouth as a result. Poverty is losing a child to a curable and preventable illness brought about by unclean water or inability to afford medications. Poverty is powerless: it is the lack of representation and freedom”. She said poverty was widespread in Nigeria based on the available statistics, which shows that about half (48 per cent) of the people in the Sub-Saharan Africa, out of which 68 per cent of the people, live in Nigeria. Consequently, as much as about 842.2 million people around the world were chronically undernourished between 2011 and 2013, out of which Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for about 243 million and Nigeria 12.1 million. She described as quite disturbing the recent recruitment exercise in which about 450,000 people scrambled for available spaces of only 4,500. This was a bitter reminder of the critical unemployment situation in the country. The Professor of Agricultural Economics noted that as a way out, agriculture remained the key to industrialization and national development and, therefore, could liberate the country from its precarious situation in that Nigeria was yet to tap fully into the benefits accruable from agriculture, as those who engaged in agriculture still remain very low, contributing less than 10 per cent to the nation’s economic output.

Professor Afolami added that the drudgery in agriculture had also led to unnecessary risks and uncertainties of production, weak value addition value chain and the large disparity between the income derivable from agricultural enterprises and those of workers in telecommunications, petroleum, politics and banking. She noted that the interrelationship of poverty and development was that of cause and effect, in the sense that poverty was one of the various determinants of economic development of any country. The 47th Inaugural Lecturer identified some underlying factors of encouraging economic growth without development to include: inequitable distribution of wealth, mono-economy and over-dependence on oil, corruption, traffic congestion, environmental problems, insecurity, unnecessary military spending and political instability, among others.

She enumerated some present and past poverty alleviation programmes that had been adopted in the country, but observed that they could not make the desired impact because “most of these strategies/programmes are fraught with tricky challenges arising from the perceived materialist orientation of human agencies charged with its implementation, bad leadership, lack of modernisation programmes, physical limitations, bureaucratic stifling, dependency on third world countries and exploitation by the elite”. She, however, warned that the recent rebasing of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which placed Nigeria’s economy as the largest in Africa, “should not be seen as a basis for celebration, as it gives a wrong view on the poverty status of most Nigerians”.

Professor Afolami’s research work which covered understanding the farming household decision making/behavioural patterns to production, usage of resources and the pricing of commodities to the examination of the markets, gave far-reaching recommendations that could turn around the economy of the country for the better. These include calling on the government to desist from increasing the retirement age in both the civil and public service, which she said would stop mortgaging the future of our youths and reduce unemployment. The Don also suggested that salary restructuring and equitable income distribution should be a priority, while there is also the urgent need to curb corruption, improve electricity supply and embark on massive industrialisation through sustainable agricultural development.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, the Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB and President of the Association of African Universities (AAU), Professor Olusola Oyewole, called for sanity in the Nation’s personal are corporate operations. He said “one of the ‘barricades’ that we need to clear as a nation towards our National Development is corruption. We need to remove corruption from our national identity. Our country needs to promote the values of honesty, integrity and truth for us to promote our National Development”.

However, he was glad to note that Professor Carolyn Afolami had carved a niche for herself as a lecturer with integrity, a woman whose conscience cannot be bought with money, a defender of truth; no matter whose horse is goaded. She has been called several times in the University to head committees where truth and integrity are required.

A member of many University committees, Prof. Afolami was the General Manager, Ogun State Agricultural and Multi-purpose Credit Agency, Abeokuta between 2003-2007, aside several other responsibilities. She has to her credit over fifty scholarly articles in Local and International Journals. During the last combined Convocation Ceremonies in June 2014, Prof. Afolami won the outstanding contribution (Staff Category) Award of the Heroes Day of Recognition and Excellence.

Dignitaries from all walks of life graced the occasion, amongst whom were the representative of the Deji of Akure, Olori Moji Adesida; the Ontori of Itori, Oba (Dr.) Adebayo; the Pro-Chancellor, Augustine University, Professor Obemiata; FUNAAB’s Pioneer Registrar, Princess Bisi Soboyejo, as well as members of Yewa Think Tank led by its President, Professor D.A Alabi and a Professor Emeritus of the University of Lagos, I.A Asiwaju.

Last Updated on December 16, 2014 by admin

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