A communiqué issued at the end of the 30th Annual LAPO Development Forum held on Thursday, October 19th, 2023 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Theme: “The Role Of Non-State Actors In National Development: A Case Study Of Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO)”.
The 30th edition of the Annual LAPO Development Forum was organized by the Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) on Thursday, October 19th, 2023 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua International Conference Centre, Abuja with the theme: “The Role Of Non-State Actors In National Development: A Case Study Of Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO).”
The Forum was chaired by Dr Sarah Alade, a former Acting Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Special Adviser to the President on Finance and Economy. Dr. Felix O. U. Oriakhi, an Associate Professor of International Relations at the Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, Nigeria delivered the keynote address with Dr. Godwin Ehigiamusoe, CEO, LAPO as host.
The forum drew participants from the public and private sectors including members of the civil society, government representatives and policymakers, entrepreneurs, development partners, trade groups and professional associations, members of the diplomatic corps, political and religious bodies, academic institutions, the media and other critical stakeholders joining the event online.
The occasion was declared open by the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, represented by Dr. Sampson Ebimaro.
After a diligent deliberation of the keynote paper with far reaching contributions from delegates, the Forum came up with the following 10-point communiqué as follows:po
- The participants congratulated LAPO for sustaining the Annual LAPO Development Forum since 1994, addressing human development challenges through the establishment of mutually reinforcing institutions in microfinance; health; micro-leasing; micro insurance, and the employment of 10,212 Nigerians.
- The forum applauded LAPO, a non-state actor for its contributions to national development and commitment to the social, health and economic empowerment of the poor and the vulnerable, with over 1.8 million people benefiting directly from its health interventions including health education and basic cancer, malaria, HIV, Hepatitis Blood sugar and blood pressure screening and referral services.
- The delegates commended LAPO Microfinance Bank and other financial institutions in the ecosystem for the provision of over N1.2trn as loans to female owners of micro and small businesses across the country.
- The forum observed that Non State Actors (NSAs) represent a socially, economically and politically stable and conscious social segment that complements and checkmates state power when necessary, noting that they exist as a vehicle for profitably harnessing the benefits of globalization in terms of skills, knowledge, networking and resources.
- The forum urged the ruling elites to eschew greed and avarice and wisely invest public funds under their supervision for the benefit of the masses, adding that it is possible to take Nigerians out of the poverty loop.
- The forum called on the Federal government of Nigeria to identify leading and well-organized NSAs such as LAPO operating in the microfinance industry and deepen relationship with them to increase the number of Nigerians who can access credit facilities to grow small and medium scale enterprises.
- The delegates urged government at all levels to create social safety nets and enabling environment for peace, security and stability to reign in Nigeria, to enable NSAs operate smoothly in the polity, thereby complementing government’s efforts at building a virile Nigerian polity where poverty among the citizen is reduced considerably.
- The forum enjoined the country’s leadership to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) through policies and programmes to promote NSAs’ greater involvement in the economy.
- The delegates’ urged NSAs to improve on their operations and activities which can help Nigeria come out from the woods in the coming years, adding that like LAPO, they should complement government efforts in fighting poverty in the country and transforming the economy.
- The forum called on the private sector to key into the Global Compact launched by the United Nations’ Secretary General at the 1999 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEP) which challenges Individual Corporations, representative businesses and associations to support the Nine Principles which relate to human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
Dr James-Wisdom Abhulimen
Head, Programme & Corporate Communications, LAPO.