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ALI – OGBA LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES
By
Professor Chukudi Vine Izeogu, Ph.D.
UMUOGBA USA (UUSA)
                                                Third Annual Convention                                               
 May 27 – 29, 2005
                         
Best Western Rocket City Inn
6200 Torok Circle
Huntsville, AL 35806

LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: ALI-OGBA INITIATIVES

 The Context: 

Ali-Ogba is one of the areas in Nigeria endowed with a rich natural resource base (abundant petroleum resources and relatively good but limited land for growing food and cash crops) Prior to the seventies, Ali-Ogba communities were relatively self sufficient in food production with rich harvests of cassava, yam, coco yam and maize. In addition, there were extensive groves of oil palm trees, which yielded not only palm oil but also cash for the families. The rivers and swamp basins supported palm wine (tombo) tapping and fishing activities. 

Currently, Ali-Ogba is a major oil producing area in Nigeria. Also, there are some successful private businesses in Ali-Ogba. Although there are potentials for start up businesses and increasing food production and marketing the area, in general, is still economically distressed. it is still economically distressed.  

But, Ali-Ogba possesses many assets that can be harnessed for sustainable economic and social development. However, in recent decades, Ali-Ogba communities have fallen into the category of areas characterized by food insecurity, increasing crime rate and unemployment, sluggish growth of local businesses, lack of or inadequate support and encouragement of new enterprises and poverty amidst plenty. 

A SWOT  analysis of the area shows that there are currently certain  barriers to meaningful and sustainable  socio-economic development of the communities. Some of the barriers that have contributed to current low levels of socio-economic development in Ali-Ogba include:

  • Intra and inter-community disunity
  • Failed community organization, governance structure and effective leadership
  • Low level of investment in human development
  • Environmental degradation
  • Lack of support of agricultural production
  • Economic benefits and attraction of non agricultural jobs
  • Lack of organized efforts by communities and their leaders in developing area targeted local economic development programs and strategies..

As a result, the economy of many communities remains at a subsistence level. In spite of limited government and oil companies’ investments in some communities and the many benefits that some individual receive from the oil companies operating in the area, productivity is low, and poverty is widespread amidst plenty. The level of poverty, to a large extent, correlates with low educational attainment, unemployment and health condition of many Ali-Ogba communities.

 In order to reverse the low level of economic growth, and contribute to sustainable development of Ali-Ogba, UMUOGBA USA (UUSA) should:

(a)   Initiate  a framework for Ali-Ogba socio-economic development, and

(b)   Initiate local economic development programs / projects in the following areas:

    -  economic development

          -  education/training

          -  health

          -  socio-cultural development

          - environmental protection

The respective UUSA committees should determine specific programs and projects to undertake in the above areas based on identified needs of Ali-Ogba communities.

 Ali-Ogba Local economic Development Initiatives:

In order to promote sustainable economic development in Ali-Ogba, it is proposed that UUSA should initiate a comprehensive local economic development strategy for the area.

The comprehensive local economic development strategy for Ali-Ogba should address specific area-based problems and identified pressing needs. The development priorities should utilize Ali-Ogba’s existing strengths and opportunities to foster promising socio-economic growth opportunities where market potential is demonstrated. The local economic development strategy should also serve UUSA as its strategic effectiveness plan (for a period of time e. g  5 – 10 years) for its economic development projects in Ali-Ogba 

The purpose of  local economic development program for Ali-Ogba is threefold:

  • to build up the economic capacity of the communities to improve their economic future and the quality of life for all.
  • to develop a process by which public, business and non-governmental sectors, in partnership,  can work collectively in key areas to create better conditions for economic growth and employment generation in Ali-Ogba
  • to offer the local government, the private sector, the not for profit organizations and the local community a framework for investment decisions in key areas that would improve the local economy and quality of life of the communities.

OBJECTIVES:  

The objectives of the local economic development strategy are to:

  • Promote the creation of a local economic development agency or association for Ali-Ogba
  • Support productive economic activities and infrastructure/services
  • Strengthen local capacities and potentials for sustainable development

This proposal is based on the premise that economic growth derived from rural based economic activities can stimulate local economic development in Ali-Ogba. This can be achieved through strategies aimed at:

(a)   increasing agricultural production,

(b)   value added processing of agricultural products,

(c)    business development,

(d)   financial assistance, and

(e)    high school and college (university) scholarships targeted to areas of personnel need in government, business and industry. 

PRIORITY NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED:

Like many marginalized rural communities in the country, Ali-Ogba does not have a local economic development plan. Also, many communities lack well trained and committed leadership.  There is no organization currently involved with assisting limited resource farmers and small businesses in Ali-Ogba or working with individuals interested in starting a business. In addition, many communities lack adequate economic infrastructure.  In some towns and villages, the markets are currently physically unattractive because the stalls are not structurally sound, and the grounds lack grading and landscaping.  Ali-Ogba also has serious needs relative to education and skills training targeted to high technology jobs in industry. In order to facilitate sustainable development, it is necessary for UUSA to target its assistance to the critical need areas.

 Based on analysis of the above serious need areas and in consideration of the following:

         Framework for Nigeria’s economic growth and development (2003-2007)

          Rivers State Governor’s Twelve -  Point Developemnt Plan (2003 - 2007) and

          USAID /Nigeria Sountry Strategic Plan (2004-2009)

UmuogbaUSA should consider undertaking two major activities in Ali-Ogba beginning during the 2005/06 year through 2010. One of these activities should be targeted to the youth while the other should be targeted to encouraging local business growth and new enterprises in selected communities.. 

MAJOR ACTIVITY ONE

1.                   Initiate creation of Local Economic Development Agency (LEDA) or Ali-Ogba Economic Development Association

-          Promote the concept of LEDA in Ali-Ogba

-          design Ali-Ogba LEDA organization structure and define its functions

-          define criteria for LEDA membership to include:

Community leaders (men, youth and women leaders)

Private enterprises (e.g. oil companies’ reps, bank reps)

Public institutions (Ag extension, College of Education, High school)

House of Assembly representative

Church leaders

Local Government Chairman

-          assist define LEDA priority program areas in Egi, Igburu, Omoku and Usomini

-          assist define LEDA’s objectives in the four Ali-Ogba communities. These objectives should include:

.   to promote job creation and diversification of the economy

.   to promote and disseminate information on economic potential and opportunities

.   to provide technical and financial assistance for the creation and reinforcement of micro and small enterprises, promoting weakened economic sectors, e.g. agriculture

.   to promote the creation and development of cooperatives and associations which contribute to the economic development of the community

.   to mobilize, manage and channel financial and technical resources

to promote a network of technical, financial, commercial and administrative cooperation in support of  enterprises promoted by LEDA 

RATIONALE FOR LEDA

The justification for LEDA include the following:

         Need to develop a vision and strategic plan for economic development of Ali-Ogba

         Need for UUSA contact and support in Ali-Ogba

         Need to provide local community support for UUSA programs/projects

         Need to provide legitimacy for development projects

         Assistance in project implementation

         Need to provide oversight for projects

 LEDA ACTIVITIES/PROJECTS:

1                     Promotion of Economic activities:

-          Provide support for new and appropriate technology in form of improved varieties of seeds (bananas, plantain, yam, cassava etc and farm labor to farmers

-          Provide support for post harvest processing and value added technology (e.g. cassava processing, corn and beans grinding, banana and plantain chips)

-          Provide support for improved food marketing linkages

-          Provide financial support for business development

2                     Provision of Small Business Assistance

This will focus on existing small business community and individuals interested in starting a new small business enterprise. Services to provide will include;

-          Provision of information on economic opportunities, business planning and development etc

-           Technical assistance (poultry, land irrigation, vegetable gardening)

-           Financial assistance and loans to start and or sustain a business.

3                     Promotion of Cooperatives and Associations

4                     Promotion and management of development projects

 EXPECTED LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (LED) RESULTS:

 

1                     Permanent and temporary jobs created (number created and place)

2                     New enterprises created (number, type and place)

3                     Number of credits disbursed (number, type of activity, place and amount)

4                     Training /Seminars conducted (number of courses and participants, subjects)

5                     Associations/Cooperatives formed (number created or in progress, membership and place)

        ESTIMATED COSTS:

 

1.       Small Business Assistance:                                       N1,000,000

2.       Technical Assistance honorarium:                                     N   500,000

3.       Agricultural development assistance;                               N1,000,000

4.       Miscellaneous (transportation etc)                                     N   500,000

Total                                                                                   N3,000,000

  MAJOR ACTIVITY TWO: 

1.  Establish a Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) aimed at providing a  number of youth empowerment services, including:

         Leadership training (to develop personal, teamwork and community leadership skills)

         Civic responsibility

         Skills acquisition

         Youth activities based on the needs of the youth

 These can be achieved by setting up one, two or more youth empowerment centers at selected towns. The mission of the youth empowerment project will be to foster, develop and support youth initiative and resourcefulness in community development. Its specific goals will be:

1.       To encourage youth civic involvement and contributions as agents of positive social and economic development

2.       To develop productive leadership potential among Ali-Ogba youth by providing leadership training

3.       To create opportunities for the youth to work side by side with community elders in a manner that fosters meaningful community development

4.       To create avenues for the youth to serve, lead and to be involved in decision-making of the community without alienating community elders. 

RATIONALE:

 In recent years, Ali-Ogba youth, as in other parts of Rivers state, want to lead, to be heard and listened to and to bring their perspectives to bear on important community issues. Ali-Ogba communities should capitalize on this and direct the energy of its youth to be engaged in meaningful social and economic change efforts as an alternative to negative or alienated behavior.

 Suggested Activities of the proposed Ali-Ogba YEP would include:

         Training (in leadership; high technology, e.g. computer technology, skills etc)

         Workshops (educational workshops) 

         High school and college (university) scholarships targeted to areas of personnel need in business and industry.

         Job Placement Services

         Service-learning programs (for high school and college students)

         Peer education exchange programs

         Civic action projects originated by the youth with adult, government, industry or business support

         Young women entrepreneurial development program (start-up capital to enable young ladies, especially widows, to be engaged in productive and income-generating economic ventures)

Suggested Collaborating Institutions and Agencies:

  1. State Ministry of Youth and Sports
  2. ONELGA
  3. Federal College of Education, Omoku
  4. Oil Companies operating in the area (Agip, Elf and Shell
  5. Community organizations
  6. Women’s Societies

 Suggested Organizational Structure:

 UUSA – provide sponsorship, solicit financial support and develop programs

Board of Directors provide oversight and set program policies

Leadership Teams (to be involved in programs co-ordination, promotion and implementation

 ESTIMATED COST;

1.       Facility rental:                                       N600,000

2.       Personnel                                                N900,000

3.       Office and instructional supplies           N500,000

4.       Equipment                                             N200,000

5.       Travel                                                     N240,000*

6.       Entertainment                                         N500,000*

 Total                                                            N2,940,000

 *Estimated annual cost 

Funding for  projects selected would be requested through unsolicited project proposal from the following primary sources:

(i)                  Elf Nigeria

(ii)                 Nigerian Agip

(iii)               Shell Petroleum

(iv)              Rivers State Government

(v)                ONELGA

(vi)              NDDC

(vii)             Local businesses e.g. contractors

(viii)           Private citizens

(ix)               UUSA

(x)                 International Development Agencies 

Between June, 2005 and May next year, UUSA should select one or two projects to implement and request matching funds from the industrial establishments doing business in the area while developing grant proposals for major economic development projects it may chose to implement later. In addition, UUSA should organize fund raising events in the USA and in Nigeria targeted to specific projects.

 

 

 

 
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