Lifting Nigerians Out of Poverty

Prophet T.B. Joshua

June 13, (THEWILL)- With nearly 87 million people living in extreme poverty and over 100 million persons living below a dollar per day, Nigeria, though being Africa’s wealthiest country in capacity with abundant natural resources and a key regional player in West Africa, is currently listed among the countries with extremely poor people.

There has also been a consistent rise in the number of out-of-school children over the years making the giant of Africa the country with the highest number of out-of -school children in Sub-Saharan Africa with 13.2 million children between 5 and 14 years that are already out of school, according to the a recent survey conducted by the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund. The causative factor is not far-fetched.

Unemployment and underemployment is at the core of the high poverty level faced by many Nigerians. This is affecting households and increasing the number of people that are vulnerable to poverty. More so, factors like poor funding, unavailability of teachers, lack of educational facilities, among others, have contributed to the unstable and totally appalling educational system in the country.

While illiteracy poses a leading factor, the inability to harness, develop and maximise local contents across the various facets of the economy is yet another reason for the upsurge in the poverty levels in a country with nearly all the natural resources that can be found in the world.

Government at all levels, no doubt, shares a large chunk of the blame as the machinery through which the wishes of the people are realised, formulated and expressed. Corruption among politicians across all divides, as well as certain religious leaders and other privileged individuals in the society, is also to blame.

However, following the state of the country and the continuous deafening silence from the government on the plight of the vulnerable masses, it has become expedient for every Nigerian to take their destiny in their hands by developing themselves mentally and otherwise. Acquiring relevant skill sets, starting business enterprises, regardless of size, and managing it properly becomes imperative.

In a bid to proffer a sustainable solution to alleviate poverty and further establish non-privileged persons in business and skills, LIFTED, an indigenous, independent non-governmental organization and an arm of The Isaiah Wealth Initiative, TIWI, a platform that renders top notch and cutting edge humanitarian services through interventions in the areas of health, education, human empowerment, catering for victims of natural disasters and the less privileged, has embarked on a mission to bring about two special poverty-combating initiatives.

The first, The Empowerment Network, TEN, is a poverty alleviation and empowerment initiative structured to lift 40 million Nigerians out of poverty and return 16 million children to school over the next ten years, 2020-2030. TEN seeks to train beneficiaries in various selected small-scale business enterprises and provide funding for them, integrate the beneficiaries into a progressive financial network that guarantees sustainable funding for their businesses and subsequently establish at least one empowerment centre in each of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria to carry on perpetual empowerment across the nation.

This they have started implementing by providing business grants for over 100 beneficiaries to start up businesses in the first phase.

According to the founder of the initiatives, Isaiah Wealth, the vision of the initiative is to refocus the minds of youths for creativity, productivity and self-reliance by training and mentoring them at grass root levels.

At a media briefing held during the official launch of The Empowerment Network recently, Wealth said the network was structured to work with volunteers, who have been provided with guided skill-sharpening training to enable them engage in outreaches to impoverished areas so as to identify qualified beneficiaries, register them on the TEN mobile app platform and monitor the progress of the beneficiaries in their respective business.

The second initiative of LIFTED, LIFTNIGERIA, provides the opportunity to privileged and well-meaning Nigerians resident at home and abroad to play their role in alleviating poverty by contributing meaningfully to the living conditions of the less privileged in the country in a secure and transparent manner.

The advent of social media as a major tool for communication, connecting people and establishing relationships has also inspired LIFTED into creating the LIFT NIGERIA as a tool for alleviating poverty.

The platform is basically to give privileged Nigerians access to connect with and provide direct support to less privileged Nigerians. Intending beneficiaries are to register and signify the nature of support and empowerment that they desire. On the web platform, there are four basic areas which includes, partnership for individuals seeking partners who may be interested in investing in a specific project for expansion purposes, scholarships for students who may register on the platform to seek academic scholarships up to university level, mentorship for anyone who seeks to be mentored in any field of endeavor and sponsorship for Nigerians with innovative ideas for development.

More so, benefactors can request for verification for a beneficiary they are interested in so that LIFTED can carry out a proper check on the person and the cause they have presented on the website after which the benefactor may decide to open communication with the beneficiary directly on the website or choose to take their communication beyond the site.

Moreover, considering the immenseness of the project, The Empowerment Network is in partnership with the Joint Church Action, JCA, to facilitate the collaboration of churches in Nigeria to contribute their part towards the alleviation of poverty in the country.

Speaking at the launch, the chairman of the JCA Board, Bishop Wesley Arije said, for some years now, there have been a growing erroneous and misleading rhetoric among the youths especially on social media about the churches in Nigeria enriching themselves at the expense of the society. According to him, this is partly fueled by the worsening poverty situation in the country and the perceived apathy of the church, which is considered one of the most prosperous institutions in the nation, to address the menace.

While this narrative is untrue, the gravity of the poverty situation in the country cannot be denied with over 47 per cent of her population living in abject poverty. In the midst of this, the church has continued to operate in healing and evangelism but has underperformed in what the Bible alludes to be the ministry of doing good because of the individualistic approach so far.

The chairman went on to say that if the church continues to engage only in healing and preaching without philanthropy, they may lose the next generation who are presently being fed with negative narratives on social media and the church may miss out on the opportunity to effectively reach out to the lost in poverty stricken areas.

Hence, JCA has been set up to propagate the relevance of the Church in Nigeria through joint philanthropy, embark on national help projects that engage the youths all in the bid to change the narrative around the gospel with regards to alleviating poverty.

For that reason, JCA is partnering with LIFTED as a fundraiser to empower at least eight million breadwinners with an average of five defendants each and two out-of-school children while calling for collaboration with churches across the country to join in the vision.

The Empowerment Network initiative is also calling for partners, support, sponsors and volunteers to help facilitate and bring to actualisation its objectives of alleviating poverty and returning children to school.

Other arms of the Isaiah Wealth Initiative are Elders Support Programme, Father’s Orphanage, Youth Empowerment Project, First World Africa, Healing Care Foundation and several others.

Prophet Isaiah Wealth, as he is called, is an author, singer and founder of several philanthropic initiatives intended to improve the lives of people. He is the founder and senior pastor of the Gospel Pillars International Churches with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria.