FG blames Govs for rising poverty
The Federal Government has blamed the high poverty rate in the country on the failure of the State Governments to contribute their quota of development responsibilities to the grassroots where the major production activities take place.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, stated this to State House Correspondents after the week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
Agba was responding to a question demanding to know what he and his colleague, the Minister of Financial, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, were doing to ameliorate the biting hardship being faced by majority of Nigerians at the moment.
The Minister, who attempted to defray the notion that rising levels of hunger and lack were peculiar to Nigeria, explained that the Federal Government, through many of its social security programmes.
He claimed the Federal Government has been dedicating resources to alleviating hardship on the public but noted that State Governments, which have been consistently receiving their shares of national resources, had been misdirecting the resource to projects that have almost no direct effect on the needs of the people.
He pointed out that 72% of the poverty in Nigeria is found in the rural areas, which he said had been abandoned by Governors, adding that the state executives prefer to function in the state capitals.
He lamented Governors were concentrating on building flyovers, airports and other projects that are visible in the state capitals rather than investing in areas that directly uplift the standard of life of the people in the rural areas.
According to him: “The result clearly showed that 72 percent of poverty is in the rural areas. It also showed clearly, that Sokoto State is leading in poverty with 91 percent. But the surprising thing is Bayelsa is the second in terms of poverty rating in the country. So, you see the issue is not about the availability of money but it has to do with the application of money.
“In the course of working on the national development plan, we looked at previous plans and say why they didn’t do as much as was expected. We also looked at the issues of the National Social Investment Programme.
“At the Federal level, the government is putting out so much money, but not seeing so much reflection, in terms of money that has been put in alleviating poverty, which is one of the reasons the government also put in place the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy.
“But if the Federal Government puts the entire income that it earns into all of this without some form of complementarity from the state governments in playing their part, it will seem as if we are throwing money in the pond.
“The Governors basically are only functioning in their state capitals. And a democracy that we preach about is delivering the greatest goods to the greatest number of people. And from our demographic, it shows that the greatest number of our people live in rural areas, but the governors are not working in the rural areas.
“I think from the Federal Government side we are doing our best. But we need to push that rather than governors continuing to compete to take loans to build airports that are not necessary when they have other airports so close to them.
‘’Governors now are competing to build flyovers all over the place and we applaud them. They should concentrate on building rural roads so that the farmer can at least get their products to the market.’’