36 Governors of the Federation under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have come down hard on the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, over claims that State governments were responsible for the rising poverty rate in the country.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) had recently disclosed that 133 million Nigerians were poor.
According to the governors, the minister got it totally wrong, adding that his attacks on the governors was totally unnecessary.
In a statement by the spokesman of the NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the governors said rather, it was the federal government that has abandoned its promise and primary responsibility to the citizens.
Describing the minister’s assertions as diversionary, governors said it’s the responsibility of the federal government to provide security for the citizens.
The governors said it’s because of the worsening insecurity that people in the rural areas abandoned their farms.
The governors said: “the tirade early this week by the Minister of state for Budget and National Planning 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.
“The Minister who should be 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 hardship Nigerians are facing attempted to defray the notion that rising levels of hunger and lack were peculiar to Nigeria.
“True as that may be Mr. Agba went further to explain that their government, through many of its social security programs, has been dedicating resources to alleviating hardship, and then goes further to accuse state governors of misdirecting resources to projects that have no impact on the people.
“While rightly pointing out that that 72% of the poverty in Nigeria is found in the rural areas, the Minister said that the rural populace had been abandoned by governors.
“This assertion is not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth. It is Mr. Clement Agba’s veiled and deliberate effort, as a minister, to protect his paymasters and politicize very critical issues of national importance.
“Instead of answering the question thrown at him by journalists, Mr. Agba veered his attention to soft targets that happen to be 36 Governors.
“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.
“First and foremost, the primary duty of any government is to ensure the security of lives and property, without which no sensible human activity takes place.
“But the Federal Government which is responsible for the security of lives and property has been unable to fulfil 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.
“This dereliction of duty from the center 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?”