By Henry Umoru
THE thirty- six State Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF has lampooned the Federal Government for blaming the high level of poverty in the country on state governors.
Governors were accused of paying more attention to flyovers and airports rather than improving the living standard of the people.
NGF noted that FG should stop shifting blames to others over rising poverty in the country.
The Governors took a swipe at the Federal Government, saying that its dereliction of duty was responsible for the rising poverty in the country and the reason people have been unable to engage in regular agrarian activities in commerce.
According to the Governors, the accusation by the Federal Government came as a surprise to them, saying that it got it wrong, adding that the assertion was not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth.
The Governors said that what the Federal Government was talking about were total lies.
The Federal Government through the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba had on Wednesday blamed the high level of poverty in the country on state governors who it said pay more attention to flyovers and airports rather than improvement of life in the rural areas.
The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba gave the admonition while fielding question from State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
But reacting to the allegation, the Governors said that 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.
In a statement yesterday by the Director, Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the Governors noted that the attacks were not only unnecessary, but represent what they described as a brazen descent into selective amnesia. It is also diversionary as far as the Governors were concerned.
The Statement read, “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.
“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.”