The Federal Government has blamed state governors for rising poverty levels across the country.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, placed the blame on Wednesday while briefing correspondents in the House of Representatives at the end of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
He also challenged state governors on the need to address poverty among rural dwellers to make life more meaningful for them.
The governors abandoned the villagers: While noting that 72% of Nigeria’s poorest people reside in rural communities, Agba asserted that governors have abandoned critical demographics and prefer to spend state resources in capital cities. He said:
- “Governors are running in their state capitals. And a democracy we preach about is delivering the best goods to the greatest number of people. And our demographics show that most of our people live in rural areas, but the governors are not working in rural areas.
- “Right now, 70 percent of our people live in rural areas. They produce 90 percent of what we eat. And unfortunately, 60 percent of what they produce is lost to post-harvest loss and doesn’t make it to market.
- “I think that on the side of the Federal Government we are doing our best effort. But we must say that instead of governors continuing to compete for loans to build airports that are not needed, where they have other airports so close to them, or governors now competing to build overpasses everywhere, we appeal to you they should focus on building rural roads so that the farmer can at least get his produce to market.”
The poorest states in Nigeria: Agba said Sokoto state ranked highest on the poverty scale, followed by oil-rich Bayelsa state, according to the findings of a recent survey it conducted in all 109 senatorial districts across the country.
- “The result clearly shows that 72% of poverty is found in rural areas. It also clearly shows that Sokoto State leads in poverty at 91%. But what is surprising is that Bayelsa is the second in terms of poverty rate in the country. So, as you can see, the problem is not about the availability of money. But it has to do with the application of money”, Agba said.
He regretted that despite the intervention of the federal government to alleviate poverty, the results have not reflected the amount of investment made in the area.
- “While working on the national development plan, we looked at previous plans and asked why they didn’t do as much as expected. We also saw the issues of the National Social Investment Program.
- “At the federal level, the government is investing so much money but you don’t see as much reflection in terms of money that has been invested in alleviating poverty, which is one of the reasons why the government also implemented national poverty reduction with growth . strategy.
- “But if the federal government puts all the revenue it makes into all of this without some kind of complementarity from the state governments, it’s going to look like we’re throwing money into the pond.”
In case you missed it: Recall that about two weeks ago, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that 63% of people living in Nigeria (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor. This represents half of Nigeria’s population, 72% of whom reside in rural areas compared to 42% in urban areas.
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