Edwin Ikhuoria is Nigeria’s Country Representative for ONE Campaign and has over 15 years experience in the development sector. He has worked across multiple sectors in the fight against poverty, using very innovative means to mobilize support for issues around poverty eradication and global development. He has worked with diverse groups including celebrities in Nigeria’s entertainment industry as well as motivated youths from across the country. Prior to joining ONE, he previously worked with The World Bank, USAID MARKETS, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Development Associates and Credit Awareness on various research, policy, communications and advocacy assignments. His advocacy work has focused on Health, agriculture, food security, trade and customs policies, where he successfully engaged Nigerian policy makers on pro poor policies. He holds two masters degrees – one in Development Management and the other in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In his private time he loves to work with young people as a life coach.
Read his super interview below:
Kindly introduce yourself
My name is Edwin Ikhuoria and I am the Nigeria Country Representative for ONE Campaign.
What are your day to day activities like?
I manage all of ONE’s engagements in Nigeria including providing context for our campaigns as it affects the Nigerian market, developing compelling narratives to get the attention of Nigerian policy makers for the sectors we are interested in, mobilizing Nigerian citizens to understand and follow the issues of poverty eradication and to generate momentum on all the issues we want to push for poverty to be eradicated.
What are your thoughts on Sustainability in Nigeria?
Sustainability is getting the best out of today without compromising the future. Otherwise, if you get all your benefit from today and there is no future to get into, all efforts will amount to nothing. In Nigeria, we are beginning to see the effect of pushing our boundaries in getting the most out of today that we have begun to notice that our lifestyles as citizens is jeopardizing our future. Extreme weather conditions have begun to be regular occurrences and we cannot ignore these anymore.
What would you like to see change in the above?
As citizens we need to have a rethink on our current consumption patterns to check our over dependence on the environment for living the type of lives we want to live. No matter what we do, we should remember that it has implications for our future and the future of the planet. We must become conscious of this and change our attitude to living sustainable lifestyles. We must not live as though there is no tomorrow. Policy wise, we need to see conscious efforts made by policy makers to incentivize adaptation techniques in production and consumption patterns.
We understand you have a passion to eradicate poverty in Nigeria, kindly shed more light on this.
The obvious fact is that more than 80 million Nigerian live on less than N200 a day. This includes all the money they spend on food, clothes, shelter, education, health, etc. what this means is that many Nigerians, majority of them being Women and girls cannot live a decent life and their children are not likely to live decent lives if something is not done about it. To this end, ONE Campaign is focused globally on ensuring that the right policies are in place and that resources are focused on the right sectors that will push more people out of poverty. We have campaigned for several years on mobilizing resources for the poorest people all over the world. We have campaigned for donor countries to give more money to poorer countries and forgive their indebtedness to them. Now, we are also working to see that developing countries implement policies that will maximize the countries’ resources for the poorest so that they get a chance at living a decent life and their children can have better access to opportunities which will in turn break the cycle of poverty.
Would you say there is a good networking relationship among Sustainability people in Nigeria?
I am not able to answer this question properly because I ma not very immersed in this discussion. However, I can say that there is significant networking going on in this sector as several platforms exist that tries to bring together several CSOs that work on the issues.
What sustainability issue do you think requires the most attention right now in Nigeria?
Dependence on the forest for cooking fuels should be discouraged. This should be done by ramping up the campaign against tree falling for firewood and providing alternative and cleaner ways to cook, especially in the rural areas. There is also significant interest in ending gas flaring so that we convert the excess gas into powerful inputs for other productive uses that does not harm the environment while looking at renewable sources of energy. Depending on what part of the country you are from, the use of sustainable energy sources and adaptation technologies that enable sustainable production and consumption of energy with emphasis on reducing the use of fossil fuels should take centre stage in Nigeria. But we seem to be a long way from that.
Your recent open letter to Mr President on the health budget went viral, what has been the impact so far?
We have been able to gain the attention of the current administration and mobilized a significant core of the civil society movement working on health reform to focus on resource mobilization for the sector as a critical step to addressing the challenges of the health sector. While we await the passing of the budget, wee can report quick victories because when the minister of health officially withdrew the health budget from the national assembly, some of our concerns were addressed in the resubmitted health budget. We celebrate those changes we have seen already and continue to call attention to the challenges of maternal and child health so that further action is taken in this regard.
How has your work changed your mindset/approach towards Sustainable development in Africa?
Everyday I encounter new dimensions of sustainability in how we develop as citizens and the roles we can play in ensuring that our planet does not suffer in the face securing better lives for ourselves. This has taught me to think twice before I do anything, knowing that there are some people who may suffer from every single action I take or that every action of mine has implications for the earth.
What are some of the exciting projects we are most likely to see from ONE in 2016?
We are focused on mobilizing domestic resources for specific sectors that will enable us achieve the SDGs. For this, look out for an exciting shock campaign on the health sector which we believe has a major implication for women and children.
Tell us about the Make Naija Stronger Campaign
Because Nigeria accounts for one in every eight child deaths globally. Every single day our country loses more than 2,000 children under-five to several diseases, while 158 Nigerian women die from pregnancy or childbirth related illnesses. We believe that President Buhari and the Nigerian government have the power to change this and so we are asking that the government ensures implementation of the National Health Act and better spending to ensure all Nigerians, including the poorest, are able to access health care.
What are your other interests?
I love to watch movies, mentor young people and promote christian values
Do you think the SDGs are achievable by 2030 (in Africa) and why?
I am very positive that in 2030, our continent would have been transformed significantly through the race to achieve the SDGs. Since the whole world would be looking at Africa and measuring the progress together, serious efforts will be made by African governments to achieve the SDGs and this in turn will help to lift millions out of poverty. Whether all the countries will achieve all the goals, that may be another challenge. I am at least positive that most of the goals that affect the lives of the poorest people will be achieved.
What are your favourite SDGS?
Goals 1, 2, 3, and 4 are just inevitable. I cannot expect any of them not to be achieved. Our freedoms are all dependent on these.
What is your advice for young people interested in joining ONE Nigeria?
Any person who is tired of the current situation of poverty and deprivation in Nigeria should join a global platform that will give life to their voices. ONE campaign is giving this opportunity to be heard, respected and ask questions that affect your life. Nobody should blame anybody for their situation if they are not asking questions from their leaders. I advise all young people to join the ONE campaign through www.one.org to engage on the important issues that will bring an end to extreme poverty.
How can people reach you on find out more about your work?