Nigeria’s former minister of State for Health, Muhammad Pate, has blamed the failure of successive governments in Nigeria to deploy over $1 trillion earned by the country as proceeds from the sales of crude oil since the commodity was discovered into meaningful developmental projects as reason for prevalence of poverty in the country.
Pate disclosed this yesterday while delivering a keynote address at the 10th anniversary colloquium of Financial Nigeria, in Abuja.
Speaking on the topic, “Nigeria’s Sustainable Development Agenda,” he noted that the recent report by World Poverty Count, an NGO that fights poverty which said over 7 million Nigerians live on less than $2 ($1.9) per day is case for concern and against the goals of the millennium development goals (MDG) which Nigeria is a signatory.
The former minister lamented that the poverty level continue to increase despite the huge earnings from crude oil over the years.
“After extracting almost $1 trillion worth of oil since our national independence, we have a situation where poverty is going up, we have effectively squandered an opportunity to utilize our natural resources that we obtained purely by chance not by hard work instead of investing to uplift our people lives,” he said.
Putting the blame on the nation’s political elites, Mr. Pate said, “Our political elites by commission or omission choose the part of short time comfort and purchase of loyalty through economically unwise, corruption ridden nation expenditures at the expense of economically sound investment in both human and physical assets to transform our nation, this is the reality.”
Explaining why the nation has failed to sustain and developmental plan, he said, “There are several reasons for underdeveloped, first we have lacked leaderships collectively as a nation that embodies the spirit of stewardship. This is one of the central reason for our lack of performance as a country. We have had individual who can exercise authority but who failed in exercising leadership as stewards of our heritage and common wealth.”
“Unfortunately that wealth belongs not only to the present but also to future generations of our country, the over $1 trillion that we have extracted in oil does not belong to us alone it belongs to the yet unborn generations of Nigerians but we have not steward it as we should,” he added.
In his welcome address, the managing editor, Financial Nigeria, Mr. Jide Akintunde, said the need to support advocacy for sustainable development was responsible for the establishment the magazine,
Another keynote speaker, Arshed Rab, CEO, European Organization for Sustainable Development (EOSD) said Nigeria need to focus on adoptive polices that will help the citizens become solution providers rather than waiting for foreign aids and loans.