The Federal Government (FG) on Wednesday 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.
This is even as Northern civil society organisations (CSOs) have dismissed President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against poverty.
The CSOs are seeking a probe of palliative spending by the FG.
But rising from the Federal Executive Council meeting today, the Federal Government pointed fingers of blame at state governments.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, stated this to State House Correspondents after the week’s FEC meeting presided over by Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Agba was responding to a question demanding to know what he and his colleague, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, were doing to ameliorate the biting hardship facing the majority of Nigerians at the moment.
The Minister, who attempted to deflect 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, 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 resources to projects that have almost no direct effect on the needs of the people.
He pointed out that 72 percent 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.
The FG lamented that state governors are 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.
Agba pointed out that while states are in charge of land for agriculture, they do not invest in them for the desired effect on their rural citizens.
He advised Governors that rather than concentrate attention on the building of sky scrappers, flyovers and bridges, they should focus on initiatives that can pull the majority of the people out of poverty.
But a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) coalition in the 19 Northern states and Abuja says disclosure that 133 million Nigerians live in abject poverty affirms social investment by the Muhammadu Buhari administration fails to achieve its purpose.
The Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks urged the anti-graft agencies to probe Abuja spending on social safety-nets and poverty alleviation schemes executed under Buhari between 2015 and 2022.
It also wants the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to establish why poverty is on the increase, especially in the North.
Coalition Chairman and Kano Civil Society Forum President, Ibrahim Waiya, wondered why poverty rates keep on rising despite huge sums spent on social investment programmes.
Waiya spoke in Abuja, where he lamented that 65 per cent of the poor or 86 million people live in the North.
He said all 18 presidential candidates for the 2023 election must explain to Nigerians how they intend to tackle poverty as well as their plan to develop the North.
“The most recent figures made available by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) referred to as Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) survey has unambiguously indicated that things are worse than what they were formerly in 2015,” Waiya reiterated.