Journalism of Courage

Endemic poverty among Nigerians, FG spanks governors for neglecting people’s welfare for bogus projects

... chides governors for building airports, flyovers, and skyscrapers instead of improving on the welfare of the people

…Sokoto State is ranked highest, closely followed by oil-rich Bayelsa in the poverty scale

The Federal Government has lampooned state governors for the rising poverty in the country, saying they relish in executing bogus projects instead of improving lives of people particularly in the rural areas.

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba, stated this at a post-Federal Executive Council meeting media briefing on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Agba noted that the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme has not impacted optimally on Nigerians because of a lack of cooperation from the state governors.

He accused the governors of executing bogus projects instead of improving lives of the people especially those in the rural areas.

Absolving the Federal Government of any blame, Agba also chided the governors of focusing on building gigantic projects such as flyovers, airports and others that can be seen in the state capitals, rather than constructing roads that would halt post- harvest losses for the farmers.

The minister pointed out that while states are in charge of lands for agriculture, they do not invest in them for a desired effect on their rural citizens.

“Nigerians should hold the governors accountable, as the state chief executives they should focus on initiatives that can raise the people from the pits of poverty.

“The governors are basically functioning in their state capitals. And democracy that we preach about is delivering the greatest goods to the greatest number of people. And from our demography, it shows that the greatest number of our people live in rural areas, but the governors are not working in the rural areas.

“Right now 70 per cent of our people live in rural areas. They produce 90 per cent of what we eat. And unfortunately 60 per cent of what they produce is lost due to post harvest loss and it does not get to the market.

“I think from the Federal Government’s side we are doing our best. But we need to say that rather than governors continuing to compete to take loans to build airports that are not necessary, where they have other airports so close to them, or governors now competing to build flyovers all over the place.

“We appeal that they should concentrate on building rural roads so that the farmer can at least get their products to the market,” Persecondnews quotes Agba as saying.

The minister added: “The result clearly shows that 72 per cent of poverty is in the rural areas. It also showed clearly that Sokoto State is leading in poverty with 91 per cent.

“But the surprising thing is Bayelsa being the second in terms of poverty rating in the country. So, you see the issue is not about availability of money. But it has to do with the application of money,” he said.

“In the course of working on the national development plan, we looked at previous plans and asked why they didn’t do as much as 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 into 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.

“UNIDO report shows us in terms of employment, the MSMEs employ 70 per cent of our people. So, you can imagine how much progress we will make when there are roads and power in these rural areas.”

On agriculture, Agba declared: “You find out that the federal government doesn’t have land that they would plant. The government has pushed for the Anchor Borrowers programme and that is going on very well but the state control lands states.

“They are the ones to provide land for agriculture. They are not investing in that. They would rather build skyscrapers in a city where people will see and clap but the skyscrapers do not put food on the table.

“When we are talking about food prices like I mentioned right now is driving inflation, prices of food at the farm gates are low. But when you now take it to the urban areas, you find out that the prices are high due to supply chain disruptions or lack of infrastructure to take them there.”



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