The Federal Government has attributed the high percentage of poverty in the nation on the State Governments’ failure to fulfil their share of development obligations to the local level, where the bulk of production activities are conducted.
Clement Agba, the minister of state for budget and national planning, made this statement to State House Correspondents following the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that took place this week at the Presidential Villa in Abuja under the chairmanship of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Agba was responding to a question demanding to know what he and his colleague, the Minister of Financial, 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 defray 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 resource to project 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.
He 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.