VOGNI is the acronym for Volunteers for Greater Nation Initiative. It is a socio-economic human rights organization established to fight extreme poverty and inequality in Nigeria.? It is duly registered according to the law of the country. Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world with a population of about 200 million people, sixty nine (69%) per cent of whom live below poverty line. Incidentally, a large number of Nigerians who live above the official poverty line still struggle to make ends meet, as they are unable to afford everyday necessities all the time.
While poverty is seen as injustice, extreme poverty is a crime against humanity.
Extreme poverty has dealt a great blow to Nigeria. It is a major reason Nigeria has over ten million, five hundred thousand (10.5 million) out-of-school children – the world?s highest number.
The Nigerian Government has confirmed that ?two million five hundred (2.5 million) `children under the age of five are currently affected ?by ?severe? malnutrition? and according to the Minister of Health, ?five hundred thousand (500,000) of these children could lose their lives if ?there is no urgent intervention to arrest the situation.
Extreme poverty has made so many parents and guardians force their under- aged female children (girl child) into early marriages. This has caused these children to come face to face with sexually transmitted diseases, domestic violence, death during childbirth, slavery, obstetric fistulas and cervical cancer, among other misfortunes.
Extreme poverty is also responsible for young children?s inability to go to school, opting instead to learn a trade at an early age. ?Some of these children have also been turned into bread winners, who now fend for their families.? It is also one of the reasons found out to be responsible for the increase in child trafficking and slavery within and outside the country? and other child labour activities.
Unemployment rate was 18.80% in the third quarter of 2017. And things have still not improved, instead, job losses have become a daily phenomenon, with no corresponding new ones being created. All this have contributed in no small measure to extreme poverty in Nigeria.
The wealth and infrastructural gap especially between the rural dwellers and communities in comparison to their urban area counterpart is extremely wide. The rural areas are inhabited by the rural poor, who despite producing the food consumed in the urban areas, in raw or processed forms, ??are still deprived of the basic amenities needed to make living more conducive. ?Developments occur largely in the urban areas, while most rural communities are denied rural feeder roads, fully equipped medical facilities and personnel, potable water, conducive classrooms for learning. Infact, some areas are still totally cut off from modern civilization.
Individuals in these communities are really finding it difficult to afford these institutions in areas where you can find them. It has become increasingly? difficult to transport Agricultural produce? to the market ?from the farms because of bad roads; And lack of adequate storage facilities has resulted in huge losses of these produce over time, sometimes ?losses of? up to fifty (50%) percent or more.
In tackling extreme poverty and addressing inequality, VOGNI?s interest and focus would centre on both individuals and unreached communities. Individuals to be reached would include children from terribly poor background, rural women, (pregnant women) and widows, while on the other hand, unreached communities that lack infrastructural development (rural feeder roads, medical centers, power, schools, potable water supply, storage facilities for preserving farm produce etc would be targeted.
VOGNI is a strong advocate of synergy between the several stakeholders (government at all levels, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the academia, ?development organizations, researchers? and the International community) in the fight against? extreme poverty in Nigeria, with a view to ending it in record time or at least reducing it to the barest minimum.
There is a large correlation between poverty and inequality. Continuous neglect of rural areas in terms of infrastructural development, educational and medical institutions has contributed a lot to the under development of these areas and in turn increases the poverty level.
REAL DEFINITION OF EXTREME POVERTY
Several authors and literatures have defined extreme poverty in so many ways. ?However, there is need to look at the definition from other angles. In? very simple terms, ?extreme poverty as defined by the United ?Nations ?is “a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information.
It depends not only on income but also on access to services.” ?Alas, the above definition does not capture its effects on the people experiencing it. We therefore have defined extreme poverty as the condition you find yourself when hit by it or the experience you are having while passing through it. Imagine a family that had to wait for ten (10) years ?for the wife ?to conceive and deliver a child,? watching their baby die because they could not afford ?medication,?? the cost of treatment charged ?by the hospital or the lack of medical personnel, equipment and drugs in health ?centres. ?It is defined as the experience farmers have, when after investing all they have in the production of farm produce, they ?lose everything because ?of lack of available and affordable ?transportation to urban markets or buyers as a result of bad roads and lack of storage facilities.
Extreme poverty is what you experience when your children cry to you that you must provide food for them, having gone three days without food and in reality you have no food anywhere to give them. Real poverty is when the children of your friends and neighbours are going to school and yours cannot because you have not paid their fees. Real extreme poverty is when you are woken up every morning by your creditors. ?You no longer sleep at home. You are a regular caller at the police station because of debt. Real poverty is when your wife gives birth to quadruplets and you have to run away due to lack of financial resources.