THE 21ST ANNUAL LAPO DEVELOPMENT FORUM SPEECH 2014
WELCOME ADDRESS BY THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF LIFT ABOVE POVERTY ORGANIZATION (LAPO) MR. GODWIN EHIGIAMUSOE AT THE 21ST ANNUAL LAPO DEVELOPMENT FORUM HELD AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2014.
Special Guest of Honour,
Gentlemen of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Board of Directors, members, and staff I welcome you to the 21st Annual Development Forum of the Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO).
The Annual LAPO Development Forum was inaugurated in 1994 to provide yearly opportunity to address development-related issues. For twenty (20) years, a range of issues such as poverty alleviation; gender inequality and access to finance; sustainable development; and popular participation amongst others, have come under focus. Recommendations from the previous editions have contributed immensely to LAPO’s success in programme development, refinement and impact.
The theme of the 21st Annual LAPO Development Forum is “Governance, Poverty and Peace Building in Nigeria”. Today, there is overwhelming desire for peace building across Nigeria, than in any other time of our national history. Social tension and conflicts have been heightened by a motley of crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery; inter-and intra-communities conflicts. The recurring bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in several communities and the insurgency in the North-East have had untoward impact on socio-economic conditions of the citizens. These conflicts have been attributed to a number of factors such as increasing competition for resources; religious intolerance; and political motivations. Whatever the causes of these recurring conflicts, what is important and desirable is the collective effort at conflict resolution and peace building.
The imperative of Peace Building in today’s Nigeria is central to governance and poverty reduction. Poverty is most likely to escalate with increasing conflicts. The poor, particularly poor women and children are the worst hit in conflict situations. Hence, we at LAPO feel that at this critical point of our national search for peace and stability, it is important to interrogate the relationship between governance, poverty and peace building.
We are glad to have a very distinguished Nigerian, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, CON, to provide insights into the theme: Governance, Poverty and Peace Building.
Today also, we mark the second edition of the LAPO Outstanding Women Leadership Award with which we celebrate women who have excelled in their various fields of endeavour. The selection process is rigorous and I therefore congratulate the eventual winners.
Permit me to briefly introduce LAPO. As an idealist young man, I initiated Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) in the late 1980s in Ogwashi-Uku , Delta State, after the adoption of the central components of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) by the then Federal Military Government. The first beneficiaries were three (3) female members of my church who were given N100 each as loans. From that humble beginning, LAPO has grown into a formidable pro-poor development organization with operations in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It has a total staff of 4,885. LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited, a licensed national microfinance bank is a leading microfinance bank in Africa. It has 1.27 million clients and made loans of N62.2billion in 2013 and targets N92 billion in the current financial year. As at August 2014, LAPO MfB has disbursed the sum ofN57.5billion
LAPO will continue to make its contribution to national development through activities which enhance access to finance and life transforming opportunities for low-income households particularly women. We believe that Nigeria and indeed Africa have enough resources to make the worst form of poverty history.
Once again, I sincerely welcome you to the 2014 LAPO Annual Development Forum.
Thank you for your attention.
Abuja October 16, 2014
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