Nigeria has been named interim co-chair of the Alliance for Poverty Eradication launched by the United General Assembly on Tuesday.
Currently composed of 30 member states, the Alliance seeks to raise awareness about the danger posed by poverty to world peace, human rights and sustainable development.
It also seeks to galvanise the international community and other stakeholders to support actions geared toward poverty eradication.
The launch came at a virtual high-level meeting of the Assembly on poverty eradication with the theme, “Trends, Options and Strategies in Poverty Eradication Across the World”.
President of the Assembly, Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande, said poverty was the most “formidable obstacle to attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
Muhammad-Bande also described poverty as a stain on humanity’s conscience, citing statistics that classifies 2.1 billion people around the world as poor, with 767 million in extreme poverty.
The ambassador, who is Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, also referenced projections that no fewer than 100 million more would relapse into poverty by 2030 due to COVID-19 and climate change.
These, he said, informed the decision of the 74th session of the Assembly to adopt poverty eradication as one of its key priorities.
He said numerous resolutions of the Assembly and programmes of the UN targeting poverty, underscored the determination to eradicate it.
“The Alliance can pull together all the factors and interests in poverty eradication and serve as a one-stop networking, information sharing and bridge-building centre.
“It should provide a mechanism for interrogating the poverty challenge from all possible, or at least, multi-disciplinary, angles.
“There is no amount of time and attention given to poverty eradication that is too much,” he said.
In a video message, President Muhammadu Buhari welcomed the launch of the initiative and conveyed Nigeria’s endorsement of all multilateral actions aimed at eradicating poverty.
“In these difficult times, it takes considerable boldness and courage to consider that which is in the interest of the greater good.
“The anchor members have done just that,” Buhari said, before highlighting efforts by his administration to tackle the scourge.
In his remarks, UN Secretary General António Guterres, said stronger multilateral system was needed to help countries fight poverty and recover from the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.
Guterres urged the Alliance to “extend sound policy advice, ensure policy coherence and set international parameters for an employment-led and people-centred recovery”.
President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Amb. Mona Juul, said the fight against poverty required the same level of urgency and seriousness attached to COVID-19.
While pledging the “full engagement of ECOSOC” in the Alliance, Juul said the council would leverage its “unique convening power” of bringing all the stakeholders together.
Amb. Samson Itegboje, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, said the Alliance offered hope and “clearly points us to the right direction”.
Itegboje, who is chairing the forum on behalf of Nigeria, said attention should be given to sectors “with potential to redistribute wealth and lift people out of extreme poverty”.
He said the Alliance would galvanise the international community to further explore the potentials of agriculture, MSMEs, ICT, among others, for job creation and empowerment of the people including youths, women and girls.
“It is also important for the Alliance to stimulate discussions and exchange of ideas on best poverty eradication policies and strategies for different member states and regions.
“I, therefore, solicit the active participation of UN member states at all events of the Alliance, including its annual series of ministerial level policy dialogues,” he said.