.The recent report by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that about 133 million Nigerians live in poverty is generating serious controversy, with the Federal and State governors now trading words.
Recall that in the early month of November, NBS disclosed that 133 million Nigerians were multi-dimensionally poor, saying that the figure represents 63 percent of the country’s population.
The report blamed the country’s rising poverty on poor access to education, living standards, health, employment and security.
It further indicated that 65 percent of the country’s poor people (86 million) live in the North, whereas 35percent (nearly 47 million) live in the South.
In the wake of the NBS report, SERAP blamed Nigeria’s rising poverty on corruption and mismanagement in the spending of trillions of naira on social safety nets and poverty alleviation programmes, including the reported disbursement of over $700 million from the repatriated Abacha looted funds to these programmes.
Some economic experts also blamed the country’s leaders at the federal, State and local governments for throwing millions of Nigerians into abject poverty.
However, following a series of criticisms and condemnations that trailed the report, the federal government last Wednesday came out to say that State governors were responsible for the rising rate of poverty across the country.
Clement Agba, the honourable Minister of State for Budget and National Planning had, while briefing correspondents at the State House shortly after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja attributed the poverty rate to governors’ misplaced priority
Agba said the governors prioritised the construction of infrastructure, such as bridges and airports in cities, rather than improving the lives of the people in rural communities, adding that State governors chose to expend State resources on the capital cities.
Reacting to the federal government’s claim that they were responsible for the poverty among Nigerians, State Governors, under the umbrella of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, stated that the Federal Government has the blame for the rising poverty level among Nigerians.
The NGF said the rising level of poverty in the country was a consequence of the biting effect of insecurity on commercial and agricultural activities.
NGF blamed FG for abandoning its duty of addressing the security challenges crippling economic activities in the country.
The NGF also alleged that the Federal Government’s inaction had allowed bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers to turn the country into a killing field.