ANNUAL LAPO DEVELOPMENT FORUM SPEECH 2018
WELCOME ADDRESS BY THE FOUNDER OF LIFT ABOVE POVERTY ORGANIZATION (LAPO), DR. GODWIN E. EHIGIAMUSOE AT THE 25TH ANNUAL LAPO DEVELOPMENT FORUM HELD AT THE FEDERAL PALACE HOTEL, VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS, NIGERIA, ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 24, 2018.
It is with great joy and gratitude to God Almighty that we welcome everyone to the Silver Jubilee edition of the Annual LAPO Development Forum.
When we started this Forum 25 years back, our goal was simply to provide a platform for cross-fertilization of ideas required for the enhancement of LAPO’s services and implementation processes. In the past few sessions of the Forum, attention has increasingly been focused on the development agenda in Nigeria and Africa.
The LAPO Development Forum brings key actors in the development space together to deliberate and proffer realistic solutions to the challenges of poverty and development. The maiden edition in 1994 addressed the theme:“The Nigerian Economy and the Poor.” Three papers were presented by leading scholars and activists: Professor Festus Iyayi of blessed memory:“The Nigerian Economy and the Poor, 1984-1994;” Dr. Precious Emelue, “Poverty Alleviation: A Step Beyond Charity,” and Madam Hannatu Ahmed Yaro, “Women as Victims of Poverty: A Case for Empowerment.”
To the credit of my colleagues, ever since, we have not missed a single session.
We are in that same spirit this morning as we discuss a very critical national issue, “Towards Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation of Nigeria: Options for Non-State Intervention.” There can be no socio-economic transformation in Nigeria and indeed in any developing nation without the active participation of non-state actors such as business leaders, scholars, labour, and civil society organizations.
Today, we are delighted to have a very distinguished Professor of Economics, Mike Idiahi Obadan to present the lead paper. He is also a Non-Executive Director of the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Permit me to use this opportunity to acknowledge his strong support for LAPO.
Since its inception in the early 1980s, Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) has remained focused on addressing the challenges of poverty with a number of mutually reinforcing, semi-autonomous institutions. These institutions include LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited, a leader in micro, small and medium enterprise financing in Sub-Saharan Africa, Micro-Investment Support Services (MISS), a pioneer in micro-leasing business in Nigeria; LAPO Institute, a centre for research and training in Microfinance and Enterprise Development and LAPO Microfinance Company, Sierra-Leone. Our staff strength stands at 9,159 with millions of clients accessing our range of financial, health and social empowerment products and services.
Without being immodest, our approach to combating poverty is a total package with access to finance, health and social empowerment programmes, which one of our past forum paper presenters, Dr. Mike Asekome theorized as the “Octagon Model” of walking out of poverty. LAPO NGO played a major role in addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1990s and early 2000. It is currently implementing a massive cancer awareness programme across Nigeria. 58 million persons have benefitted from information, screening and linkages for treatment provided by the Project. Our rural health outreaches have reached 9,827 persons with full medical services including surgery.
Ladies and gentlemen, permit me at this point to acknowledge and appreciate distinguished scholars, national political leaders, civil society activists, high-profile business people, and leaders of industry who have delivered keynote papers at the LAPO Development Forum since April 1994. We have therefore put the previous papers together in a well edited and packaged compendium.
We hope that scholars, development experts, policy makers, civil society activists and the general public will find this compendium, entitled “Improving Lives in Nigeria: The Narratives from the LAPO Development Forum,” useful and worthwhile.
Mr. Chairman, keynote speaker, esteemed guests, thank you for your attention and God bless.
Godwin E. Ehigiamusoe Ph.D
Lagos, August 24th 2018
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