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Rising Poverty: NGF accuses FG of neglecting duty

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Abuja
04 December 2022   |   5:32 am
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has accused the Federal Government (FG) of dereliction of duty, a development it said was the actual cause of rising poverty across the country.

Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has accused the Federal Government (FG) of dereliction of duty, a development it said was the actual cause of rising poverty across the country.

Reacting to the Federal Government’s allegation that governors are responsible for rising poverty, the forum in a statement, described allegation by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, as an attempt to divert attention from the gross failures of the Federal government.

NGF Spokesperson, Abdul Razaque Bello Barkindo, said: “The tirade early this week by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba, on the 36 governors, where he blamed them for the rising poverty index in the country comes to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum as a surprise.

“The minister got his message totally wrong. His attacks are not only unnecessary, but they represent a brazen descent into selective amnesia. It is also diversionary as far as the Governors are concerned.”

Faulting claims that governors have abandoned the rural populace, the NGF said it is the opinion of the governors that the dereliction that the minister is talking about lies, strictly speaking, at the doorstep of the Federal Government, which he represents, in this scenario.”

The statement continued: “The primary duty of any government is to ensure the security of lives and property. But, the Federal Government which is responsible for the security of lives and property has been unable to fulfill this covenant with the people thus allowing bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers to turn the country into a killing field, maiming and abducting people, in schools market squares and even on their farmlands.”

The NGF said: “This dereliction of duty from the centre is the main reason why people have been unable to engage in regular agrarian activity and in commerce.

“Today, rural areas are insecure, markets are unsafe, surety of travels are improbable and life for the common people generally is harsh and brutish.

The question is: “How can a defenceless rural population maintain a sustainable lifestyle of peace and harmony when their lives are cut prematurely, and they wallow permanently in danger? How does a minister whose government has been unable to ensure security, law and order have the temerity to blame governors?”

The forum continued: “what determines poverty and unemployment in a country is its economic policy, which is set, normally by the central government nationally. The Federal Government cannot abdicate its responsibility by blaming states. How does economic policies in a state drive the dollar which determines almost every aspect of our national existence? The NGF queried.

According to the NGF, “Although the Minister committed the folly of tarring all thirty-six governors with the same brush, there cannot be a one-size-fits all reply to the Minister’s misguided outburst.

“It is the Federal Government that, in its campaign message in 2019, promised to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. Today, records show that more than 130 million Nigerians are living below the globally accepted poverty line of a dollar a day.”

The NGF further argued that “Under the current administration that Mr. Clement Agba is minister, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had failed to remit statutory allocations to states in several months. The situation had compelled governors to rely on other sources of revenue like, the States Fiscal, Transparency Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme and other interventions anchored by the NGF, to fund states activities while monies budgeted for such federal ministries as Agriculture, Rural Development and Humanitarian Affairs are not being deployed in the direction of the people.

“So, where is the minister getting his unverified facts and figures from? It is important to mention here that only this week, the House of Representatives asked the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, to quit office, if she was not ready to do her work of alleviating poverty in the land. This, in other words, is a resounding vote of no confidence on the ministers among whom Mr. Agba serves”

“The Forum would like to state categorically that it does not indulge in joining issues with the Federal Executive Council, being a non-partisan organ. The NGF’s primary mandate is to partner with all well-meaning institutions, concerns, MDAs, and individuals for the progress of the Nigerian people.”

Bello Barkindo explained that governors have shown greater responsiveness to the yearnings and aspirations of their people, and these vary from one state to another. The opinion, therefore, of one minister, based on a survey of 56 000 households in a country of 200million people can never diminish the good work that 36 pro-poor minded Governors are doing for this country.

He advised top government functionaries including Mr. Clement Agba that the Nigerian people deserve answers from even those who are appointed to serve them and these finger-pointing invectives on soft targets do not help matters, only answers do”