From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Federal Government has lamented the high level of poverty in the local government areas, saying government would generate resources to salvage the situation.
Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, George Akume, stated this, yesterday, in Abuja when Chairman, Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Victor Morakwu, visited him.
Akume called on state governments to prudently utilise resources to cater for the needs of rural dwellers.
“Today, more than any other time in our history, we need to generate and ensure whatever is generated is made available and applied very prudently for the interest of our people.
“And when we talk about interest of our people, we are referring substantially to those who live in our rural areas. And this underscores the importance of Mr President’s charge to ensure 100 million Nigerians are pulled out of poverty and manage prudently and transparently. A lot could be applied in the employment generation area.
“I want to say those at the states are also doing their best to ensure what is available is also prudently spent. But, I believe, as you have said, to put your searchlight across the three tiers of government more vigorously than ever before.
“Sometimes in doing so, no matter whether we are doing well, at least you put us on our toes,” he said.
Earlier, Morakwu proposed the separation of local government funds from state governments to allow chairmen carry out development projects.
He said the commission would ensure funds borrowed for any project will be monitored to ensure the projects are executed, especially at the grassroots level.
“It is true one of the lacunas today is that local government funds are transmitted through the state governments, but it has become necessary that either this scenario is altered or that local governments are restructured to ensure those living in the rural communities are properly taken care of.
“This is the particular area I have come to seek collaboration with Your Excellency and that is to re-launch the local government authorities into the contemporary administrative channel and to engage its leadership to imbibe prudence, transparency and accountability in their processes,” he said.
While quoting the Nigerian Economic Sustainability plan, the former local government chairman said: “40 percent of the population of Nigeria are poor because among other considerations, this percentage earn less than N137,000 per annum. He further stated that COVID-19 crisis will multiply the misery if unchecked.
“Majority of these poor Nigerians reside in LGAs. From this dangerous scenario, the government plans to work in close collaboration with state governments to solve this problems. This is obviously going to be added responsibility to the local government authorities that will manage the process.”