By Ifeanyi Onuba
The Federal Government on Wednesday accused Governors of abdicating their primary mandate of improving the welfare of their citizens and are now competing among themselves to build infrastructure projects that are “unnecessary.”
Specifically, the Federal Government claimed that rather than focusing on areas that would reduce the level of poverty in their respective states, many of these governors now prefer to build flyovers, airports and mega roads among others.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba who made the assertion during a media briefing in Abuja explained that many of these projects have no direct impact on the lives of the people.
Agba named Sokoto and Bayelsa states as leading other states in poverty ratings in the country and stated that 72 per cent of the poverty in Nigeria was found in the rural areas, which he said had been abandoned by governors.
According to Agba, the governors preferred to function in the state capitals building flyovers and airports rather than construct roads that would aid farmers in the rural areas to easily evacuate 90 percent of farm produce to the city.
He stated that 60 per cent of harvest was lost because it did not make it to the market.
While noting that the Federal Government on its part had done its best on poverty alleviation, the Minister regretted that there was no reflection of the amount of investment that had been done in the area.
He pointed out that while states were in charge of land for agriculture, they did not invest in them for the desired effect on their rural citizens.
The minister said: “To say in the past, we’ve always looked at monetary poverty. But poverty like we know has different indices, different intensity and different causes. And it is for this reason, we went around the 109 senatorial districts in Nigeria, to carry out those survey and to be able to say specifically, where this hardship is.
“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.
“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 of government.
“At the federal level, government is putting out so much money but not seeing so much reflection, in terms of money that is being put in alleviating poverty, which is one of the reasons the government also put in place the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy.”
He added, “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 because the governors basically are only 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 demographic, it shows that the greatest number of our people do live in rural areas, but the governors are not working in the rural areas.”
He said that currently, 70 per cent of the people live in rural areas producing 90 per cent of what the country eat.
Unfortunately, the Minister lamented that 60 per cent of what they produce is lost due to post harvest losses and it does not get to the market.
He continued, “When we talk about food prices, like I mentioned right now as 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, lack of infrastructure to take them there.
“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 where they have other airports so close to them.
“Our governors are now 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.
“And you find that if they do that and with the new policy in the national development plan that talks about taking power to the rural areas, especially off-grid power that can easily be put, you begin to attract industries to those areas for value addition.”
Governors Competing To Build Flyovers, Airports Instead Of Fighting Poverty—FG is first published on The Whistler Newspaper
Source: The Whistler.