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NGF Faults FG Over Poverty Index Claim, Says Minister Got It All Wrong

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The governors of the 36 states of the federation have said they are surprised by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba over his accusation against them for Nigeria’s poverty index.

The Federal Government, through the National Bureau of Statistics, in November, said 130 million Nigerians are poor, representing 63 per cent of the nation’s population.

Recall that the minister had after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday told journalists that the Federal Government’s social investment plan had not impacted optimally because of a lack of cooperation from the state governors.

According to Agba, the governors concentrate on executing “bogus projects,” rather than improving lives in the rural areas.

But reacting in a statement signed by the Director of Media and Public Affairs, Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, the governors described the minister’s comments as unnecessary and diversionary, saying they represent a “brazen descent into selective amnesia.”

According to them, the assertion by the minister that the rural populace had been abandoned by governors is not only preposterous and without any empirical basis, but also very far from the truth.

The governors also stated that in this scenario, the “dereliction” the minister talked about lay strictly at the doorstep of the Federal Government.

Saying that it did not indulge in joining issues with the Federal Executive Council, the NGF explained that its primary mandate was to partner with all well-meaning institutions; concerns; ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs); and individuals for the progress of the Nigerian people.

The governors urged top government functionaries to always provide Nigerians with the requisite answers rather than what they described as pointing incentives on soft targets which they said did not help matters.

Read full statement:

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.

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?

Two states, Edo State and Akwa Ibom State had promptly responded to the vituperations of the Minister. According to Akwa Ibom State, what determines poverty and unemployment in a country is its economic policy, which is set, normally by the central government nationally. Akwa Ibom insists that the Federal Government cannot abdicate its responsibility by blaming states and goes further to ask, albeit rhetorically, how economic policies in a state drive the dollar which determines almost every aspect of our national existence.

In its response to Clement Agba, Edo State, on the other hand, reeled out the projects the state embarked upon which were targeted at alleviating poverty among its people. Mr. Agba is perceptibly oblivious of them. Many other states have been implementing pro-poor programs in their domain, and they are there for all to see.

Although the Minister committed the folly of tarring all thirty-six governors with the same brush, there cannot be a one-size-fits all reply to the Minister’s misguided outburst.

For example, it is the Federal Government that, in its campaign message in 2019, promised to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. Today, records show that more than 130 million Nigerians are living below the globally accepted poverty line of a dollar a day.

Under the current administration that Mr. Clement Agba is minister, the national cash cow, the NNPC, had failed to remit statutory allocations to states in several months. The situation had compelled governors to rely on other sources of revenue like, the SFTAS program and other interventions anchored by the NGF, to fund states activities while monies budgeted for such federal ministries as Agriculture, Rural Development and Humanitarian Affairs are not being deployed in the direction of the people.

So, where is the Minister getting his unverified facts and figures from? It is important to mention here that only this week the House of Representatives asked the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, to quit office if she was not ready to do her work of alleviating poverty in the land. This, in other words, is a resounding vote of no confidence on the ministers among whom Mr. Agba serves.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum would like to state categorically that it does not indulge in joining issues with the Federal Executive Council, being a non-partisan organ. The NGF’s primary mandate is to partner with all well-meaning institutions, concerns, MDAs, and individuals for the progress of the Nigerian people. However, it is important to put on record the progress made by state governors in the administration of their states, which have witnessed tremendous progress in recent time. Governors have undertaken projects where they, in conjunction with their people, deem them fit for purpose. Governors have today shown greater responsiveness to the yearnings and aspirations of their people, and these vary from one state to another. The opinion, therefore, of one minister, based on a survey of 56 000 households in a country of 200million people can never diminish the good work that 36 pro-poor minded Governors are doing for this country.

Finally, it is important to admonish top government functionaries like Mr. Clement Agba that the Nigerian people deserve answers from even those who are appointed to serve them and these finger-pointing invectives on soft targets do not help matters, only answers do.

ABDULRAZAQUE BELLO-BARKINDO
DIRECTOR, MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
NIGERIA GOVERNORS’ FORUM SECRETARIAT

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BREAKING: INEC Publishes Report Of 2023 General Election

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The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has released its report on the 2023 general election.


The commission said the publication of the report is in keeping with its tradition over the last four electoral cycles and commitment to transparency.

This was made known in a statement by Sam Olumekun, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee.


Olumekun said the Report showcases the election’s unparalleled diversity in party representation, demonstrating significant democratic progress.

According to him, the 2023 general election saw four political parties winning gubernatorial races, seven parties winning senatorial seats, eight in federal constituencies and nine in State legislatures, illustrating a broad shift in political representation across Nigeria.

He said the document has been made accessible on its website and social media platforms.


“On Thursday, 22nd February 2024, the Commission convened for its weekly meeting, where the 2023 General Election Report was reviewed and approved for publication.

It partly read: “In keeping with our tradition over the last four electoral cycles, and our commitment to transparency, we are pleased to announce the release of the official INEC report on the 2023 General Election.

“This comprehensive 526-page document, structured into 13 chapters and enhanced with 60 tables, 14 boxes and 10 graphs, offers an in-depth analysis of the election’s key processes, achievements, and challenges, alongside valuable lessons learned.


“The Report showcases the election’s unparalleled diversity in party representation, demonstrating significant democratic progress. This election saw four political parties winning gubernatorial races, seven parties winning senatorial seats, eight in federal constituencies and nine in State legislatures, illustrating a broad shift in political representation across Nigeria.

“The Report underscores the pivotal role of technological advancements, particularly the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), in enhancing electoral integrity and reducing fraud. Furthermore, it addresses public concerns about the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal, explaining the technical issues encountered during the upload of polling unit results for the presidential election.

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JUST IN: Okpebholo Declared Winner Of Edo APC Gov’ship Primary

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Senator Monday Okpebholo has been declared winner of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary election for the September 2024 governorship election in Edo State.


Okpebholo scored 12, 433 votes to emerge winner.

Details later…

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Yoruba Nation: Igboho Accuses Buhari Of Attempting To Assassinate Him

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Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo popularly known as Igboho, on Friday, said he came back to Nigeria by the power of God.

Igboho made the remark while accusing former President Muhammadu Buhari of attempting to assassinate him.

He alleged that Buhari sent the Department of State Services, DSS, and soldiers to assassinate him in his house.

Addressing his followers in Oyo State, the freedom fighter claimed that his agitation against Fulani herders killing of farmers in the Southwest was behind the move to assassinate him.

According to Igboho: “Buhari sent his soldiers and DSS to arrest me in my house because I said Yorubas are not slaves to Fulanis, they can’t suppress us in our father’s land.

“Fulanis can’t stop our fathers and mothers from going to their farms. But, I’m back with the power of God and authority not that of man.”

The freedom fighter returned to Nigeria on Thursday, ahead of his mother’s burial in the Saki area of Oyo State.

Igboho has been out of Nigeria since 2021 when he eloped to Benin Republic after he was declared wanted by the DSS.

DSS had invaded his residence in the Soka area of Oyo State but he escaped.

The secret police had declared him wanted over his agitation for Yoruba Nation and attacks on Fulani herders accused of killing farmers in the Southwest.

In Benin Republic, Igboho was arrested and remanded while attempting to travel to Germany.

However, he recently regained his freedom after two years in a Beninoise prison.

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