December 5, 2022

FG’s shift of poverty blame to Governors

THE Muhammadu Buhari government hardly takes responsibility for its failings. It is very well known for making grandiose promises and shifting blames to other parties.

Up till date, the regime keeps blaming “previous regimes” even after almost eight years it was given to fix problems that it met. After the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting in Abuja last week, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, blamed the state governors for the rise in multidimensional poverty under Buhari’s watch from 80 million to 133 million or 63 per cent.

These figures were supplied by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, recently. It shows that rather than the Buhari regime fulfilling its pledge to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, it pushed 53 million more Nigerians into abject poverty compared to 2015. Those 53 million Nigerians, mostly of the middle class, were classified as being “vulnerable” before Buhari took over.

Three of the regime’s policy failures contributed to mass impoverishment. Number one is the Federal Government’s failure to fix the refineries which forced it to continue importing petroleum products and paying benumbing amounts in subsidies. The over N10 trillion wasted on subsidies could have helped in fixing our educational, health, infrastructural, security and agricultural problems.

The second was the regime’s inability to create an enabling environment for investments in the oil sector to continue undisturbed. It was under this regime that most of our foreign partners divested from onshore exploration and production activities.

Oil thievery acquired monster dimensions. We could no longer meet our OPEC quota. For the first time, we are not benefiting from the oil boom that has been on for the best of four years. And the president is also our Minister of Petroleum!

The third factor was allowing armed herdsmen militias to attack, kill and displace farmers, especially in Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Taraba and all the states of Southern Nigeria. Also, bandit-terrorists were handled with kid gloves while they marauded the deeper North and even started targeting our military resources. With the farms deserted, farmers could not farm. Hunger and food inflation took over.

Of course, we know that the Governors have their share of the blame for worsening poverty in Nigeria because of corruption and their misplaced use of public funds. Governors have been allowed easy access to the public treasury. Blaming them for building flyovers and airports is laughable. These are capital assets that lift the lives of the people, and they don’t cost that much.

Nigerians rightly blame the Federal Government because it has the lion’s share of federal revenue and exercises the lion’s share of power.

It must bear the lion’s share of the praise or blame.