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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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Tinubu Appoints Walson-Jack Head Of Civil Service

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President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of Didi Esther Walson-Jack as the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, with effect from August 14, 2024.

Prior to her new role, Walson-Jack was the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education.

She was also appointed as Federal Permanent Secretary in 2017 and has served in several ministries.

The announcement was contained in a statement on Wednesday by the President’s Special Adviser, Ajuri Ngelale.

The statement was titled ‘President Tinubu Appoints New Head of Civil Service of the Federation.’

“The new appointee will take over from the incumbent Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, CFR, who is due to retire on August 13, 2024.

“President Tinubu, while thanking the outgoing Head of Service for her stewardship, tasks the incoming Head of Service to discharge her duties with innovative flair, integrity, and stringent adherence to the extant rules and regulations of the Civil Service of the Federation,” the statement read.

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PDP Governors Declare Support For Organized Labour Demand On Minimum Wage

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By Augustine Akhilomen

….Demand Political Solution To Rivers Crisis

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum has declared their total support to the demand for a new minimum wage by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

This was made known following a marathon meeting in Enugu that lasted over four hours, Bauchi State Governor and Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Bala Mohammed, addressed the press on behalf of his colleagues.

He called for a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Rivers State between Governor Sim Fubara and his predecessor, Nyesom Wike.

The governors also supported the federal government’s stance on granting autonomy to local governments.

The PDP Governors’ Forum vowed to work together to achieve their goals, providing a united front to reclaim leadership positions and provide a credible alternative to Nigerians.

The governors present at the meeting included Gov. Bala Mohammed, Bauchi State, Chairman, Gov. Siminalayi Fubara, Rivers State, Vice Chairman, Gov. Peter N. Mba (Host), Gov. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, Adamawa State, Gov. Umo Eno, Akwa Ibom State, Gov. Douye Diri, Bayelsa State, Member, Gov. Sheriff Oborevwori, Delta State, Gov. Godwin Obaseki, Edo State, Gov. Seyi Makinde, Oyo State, Gov. Caleb Mutfwang, Plateau State, Gov. Agbu Kefas, Taraba State and Gov. Dauda Lawal, Zamfara State

According to the communiqué, “The meeting deliberated on a wide range of issues that border on our critical national interest, the state of our party particularly the forthcoming congress, the unprecedented hardship faced by majority of Nigerians as a result of the dismal performance of the APC-led Federal Government, the minimum wage negotiations, and the recurring issue of inter-governmental relations with special reference to local government autonomy and funding.

“Following exhaustive discussions and consultations, the meeting resolved as follows: In the spirit of the founding fathers of our great party who adopted internal democracy as the fundamental principle on which our party was built, the congresses leading to the election of party leaders, at the various tiers, must be all-inclusive, transparent, fair and in strict compliance with the constitution of the party.

“To ensure the successful conduct of the congresses across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.”

On the off season elections in Edo and Ondo, the forum admonished all the parties to the elections “to ensure that campaigns are issues-based, violence-free and in strict compliance with the provisions of the electoral act.

“Urges the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide a level playing field that guarantees transparent, fair and unimpeachable elections as any act of bias will be totally resisted.

“Urges Mr. President to show leadership as a true democrat by refraining from making any statement suggestive of political interference in the entire process.

“The Forum notes with dismay and grave concern the mismanagement of the economy by the APC-led Federal Government.

“The minimum wage negotiations are becoming unduly protracted. In the face of the attendant unprecedented hardship and impoverishment of majority of our people, the Forum resolves as follows:

“That Labour’s demand for a substantial salary raise is eminently justified and therefore commands the total support of the Forum

“While the Forum fully supports Labour’s demand, agreement must take into consideration the ability to pay by the local government, sub-national and federal government.

“While negotiations are ongoing, we appeal for restraint in both utterances and actions that could lead to the complete breakdown of law and order and ultimately, the collapse of the economy.”

The governors also took a stand on the Supreme Court judgement on local government autonomy, declaring that they believed in the efficacy of the local government system which ensures that governance is brought closer to the people as provided for in the constitution.

“Will continue to support the autonomy of the Local Governments as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Forum holds the Supreme Court in the highest esteem, and is committed to obedience to court orders. However, the Forum urges that implementation of the court decision must be done in a manner that does not create a trust deficit between the federal governments and sub-national governments while also ensuring that the system does not suffer,” they further stated.

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‘You Must Pay For Everything I Did For You’ – Kizz Daniel Makes Demand Amid Rumours Of Marriage Crash

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Nigerian singer, Oluwatobiloba Daniel Anidugbe, better known as Kizz Daniel, has requested a refund for all his expenses, amidst reports of his crashed marriage.

Recall that rumours made rounds online last week that Kizz Daniel’s marriage had crashed after his wife caught him with another woman in his studio.

In a post on his X handle on Wednesday, the singer listed the condition for anyone wanting to break up with him.

He wrote, “If you won breakup with me, Follow no My problem just pay me my PENSION $ For all the things I don do airtime, Gifts, The F**k etc then you can leave – BALACLAVA.”

Meanwhile, Kizz Daniel has opened up about why his latest single, ‘Double,’ was dedicated to his wife, who also featured as a vixen in the accompanying music video.

Recall that the new song showcases Daniel’s signature blend of afrobeat rhythms, infectious choruses and soulful melodies.

In a statement on Saturday, the ‘Woju’ crooner said the song is a celebration of love and double joy that comes with sharing it live with someone special.

Emphasising the reason for dedicating the song to his wife, the singer said the song also speaks to the beauty of partnership and family and hopes that the romantic anthem will resonate with his fans worldwide.

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