Doris Egberamen, Founder of Push Africa in an exclusive interview CHIBUZOR EMEJOR, spoke passionately about the activities of Push Africa, a non-governmental organization (NGO), and the role of government in solving the problem of thugs headed by hydra, among other issues. Excerpts:
Could you give a brief history of your non-governmental organization, Push Africa?
Thank. Push Africa is a non-governmental organization, as well as a social enterprise organization.
Our main goal is to see how we can reduce poverty to the minimum. We also carry out projects and programs aimed at reducing hunger as much as possible. We are engaged in programs that allow families and the unemployed to find something; in both the formal and informal sectors.
Recently, we realized that the work of white-collar workers is not available. We need to start looking inward to see how we can empower people with different skills, as is done in other parts of the world, such as Asia. For example, in China, all that they are interested in is the ability to solve everyday problems. Each of us does not need white collars to make our country work.
Thus, we participate in programs aimed at reducing poverty. We do this by giving people the opportunity to learn skills. When we get resources and funding, our small business operators, farmers, we help them with something. By the time we all play certain roles in tackling the problem of poverty, together we will make Nigeria better.
It is actually alarming to know that Nigeria is as big as we are, with all the donations, is now on the global map as the poorest country in the world. I think this is very awkward. We can not have huge resources and still not enough. So we do all this to add value. We have everything we need to be what we want.
The vision of your organization when I visited your site is to end poverty and hunger by 2050 in Nigeria. Given his herculeanity, reaches the goal?
This is actually the task of Hercules. There is no doubt about it. Poverty is a global threat.
There are poor people in America, Great Britain and in all developed countries of the world. This means that this is a situation with which we will definitely live for a long time. Even in biblical days, they were people who lacked basic necessities. For us as an organization, everything we say is that there should not be extreme poverty, a situation where people cannot afford to eat, have decent housing and other basic necessities of life.
We do not promise to save the world. If everyone plays a small role, we can achieve something very reasonable. There are many arguments from different circles that it is impossible to put an end to poverty.
We say that we can reduce poverty to the minimum minimum. We can get rid of this card, which says that we are the poorest in the world. India is the poorest country in the world. But today Nigeria has overtaken India. India has taken a conscious step to ensure that they are no longer the poorest country. I think that if we do the same, we’ll get rid of poverty.
This brings me to your second question: what are we doing to achieve these goals that we set for ourselves? We have poverty in the country, because a huge number of people are unemployed. More than 60 percent of Nigerian youth are unemployed. Why are we all holding in the same direction?
To do so much. In the service sector so much. For example, if you look at our environment, then just how to make your car lock in when it breaks is a miracle. We do not have qualified mechanics. We have a lot of mechanics, but they are not qualified.
Many of them perform trial and erroneous work. We do not have enough people in the service industry to provide solutions in real time. The artisan sector is one of the key areas we need to pay attention to.
Have you mentioned agriculture as one of your main areas of concentration? What exactly are you doing in this sector?
Speaking of agriculture, you will agree with me that one of the problems that people in this sector face, and which are mostly poor, is that they cannot eat.
We believe that if we can get food on the tables of average Nigerians, half of their problems will be solved.
We have good soil. Agriculture was our main occupation before the discovery of oil. You can go back to the days when we had enough food and exports. Someone told me at the bank yesterday that a bank employee resigned, and she went to Cameroon to buy Obobobo for sale in Nigeria. This means that Nigeria does not produce enough of this product.
Therefore, if we pay attention to some of these things that we have here, we can reduce poverty. We can encourage young people to farm.
How does your NGO encourage young people to farm?
We go to local communities to encourage them to return to the farm. We say that agriculture should not remain for people who are not educated. In other countries we have formed people who are engaged in agriculture.
So, we go to the community and provide them with small tools. Sometimes it can be fertilizers, cultivation tools or seedlings. Perhaps agriculture is a trend trade.
We carry out our agricultural promotion campaigns. We do this in seven states of the North-Central region. The states include Niger, Nasarava, Benue, Plateau, Kogi and Kaduna.
From the available statistics, how many farmers could you reach?
We currently have about 50,000 members. 60 percent of these members are primarily farmers from the seven states mentioned.
When I talk to you, we think about providing 200 tools to beginners tools and materials for poor people who need support to start something.
We intend to implement this program on October 17, 2018, which is the global day for the eradication of poverty. We intend to take a walk in Abuja to demonstrate support that poverty can be eradicated. After this event, we will move to Niger, where we intend to talk with farmers.
We intend to provide them with preservatives to help them store their materials after harvest.
Does your NGO support partnerships with relevant government agencies in implementing your programs?
At the moment we have no main supporter. Of course, we are open to partnership. We are currently negotiating with the government of Niger.
We have the ability and passion. We are the executive body; we seek their support so that we can carry out our programs. We hope that the government of Nazarene will come to support what we are doing. Everywhere, people want to see your milestone before they give support.
We are still a bit new. We hope that from now on, the government will start talking to us about how we can work together.
Has your organization made some efforts to contact relevant government agencies for a partnership?
Yes, we wrote the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN), the Industry Bank (BoI), the National Employment Agency (NDE) and other relevant agencies interested in what we are doing. We got the answers.
Some of them have assured us that they will come to support when there is access to funds. We also plan to write to the office of the vice-president soon.
We know about trademarks, vice president, prof. Amy Osinbajo, going all over the country. We want to see how we can help.
We are on the field. If we receive some support, it will help us to do more on the path we have chosen. We will achieve great results at the end of the day.
In all of our projects, we have a schedule for recording progress and monitoring and evaluation.
Do you think the government is doing nothing to combat poverty in Nigeria, in terms of that the level of poverty continues to grow in the country?
We believe that the government is doing everything possible. Perhaps the government is not enough. We go there to interact with people, I tell you, this is the task of the Hercules, the problem of eradicating poverty.
I tell you, whether the government exposed the report, which said that half of the Nigerian population lives in extreme poverty or not, this is absolutely true.
We go out into the field, into families, business circles, to see what these people are doing.
We can tell you that there is a big job ahead. The government is not doing as much as we expect from them.
Sometimes we want to put the blame on corruption. The government may have good intentions, but because of the people and the environment in which we live, we understand that the project does not infiltrate either at the grassroots level or the people for whom such projects have been developed. For those of us who are in non-governmental organizations, there is a problem of trust. The question arises whether NGOs are endowed, whether they will not abuse the resources provided to them.
You talked about giving grants or loans to 200 beneficiaries. What are the criteria for the selection of beneficiaries? Where does your NGO currently receive funding?
We provide 200 of our beneficiaries to these grants. We have about 1000 of our members who have applied. When people send the names of people they know who is poor, sometimes we investigate, due diligence, before we give support.
Yes, we have selected 200 of these poor people and some families who really need such support.
Do you give them loans or grants?
These are grants. They do not return. We also have a segment of our organization, mainly a social enterprise, because of the need to ensure sustainability; There are some programs that we have that will provide loans so that we can recycle money.
Speaking about how we get our funding, as an organization, we have other services that we provide. We conduct trainings for organizations and the media. We have events and programs that we generate. At the moment it is a self portrait.
We hope very soon, we will get financial support. They ask about our profile, documentation and suggestions. Thanks to what we have been able to achieve, we will soon see that we will attract funding from donor agencies.
Finally, your program will appear on October 17, what do you intend to achieve with the organization of the program?
As you already know, around the world, October 17, was postponed to be recognized as World Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Considering the fact that Nigeria is committed to poverty, we should not be seen in solving this problem. As an organization, not much is being done. Many people cry and complain that the government is not enough. But, as citizens of this country, we must put our hands on the deck.
We cannot continue to leave everything that is needed for the government. Individuals can play their part. We have a lot of rich people in Nigeria; they do not do as much as we expect from them. We believe that for us, as an organization, we must solve this problem and work with it.
We can not allow this missed day. We collect a series of events to celebrate this day. On October 17, we have a small ceremony that pays out these grants. Grants are not necessarily cash. For some, we can give them cash, while others – artisans, fashion designers, makeup artists, photographers, we will provide them with tools. In addition to the event, we will train them.
On October 18, we will visit the camp of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Durumi, Abuja. We were there separately. After the visit we will talk with the youth in the camp. We want to train them from six months to one year so that they can become bread winners or help with their families.
On October 20, we intend to conduct a walk to eradicate poverty. We hope that some government officials, public figures, artists who join us to celebrate this day can eradicate poverty in Nigeria.