BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
The Federal Government has lamented the high level of poverty in the local government areas in the country, saying government will generate resources to salvage the situation.
Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, stated this on Monday when the chairman, Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), Victor Morakwu, paid him a courtesy call in Abuja.
Akume, therefore, 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 to ensure that 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 that 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 that those at the states are also doing their best to ensure that 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, no matter whether we are doing well, at least you put us on our toes,” the Minister said.
Earlier, the FRC chairman, Morakwu, proposed the separation of local government funds from that of state governments in order to allow LGA chairmen carry out development projects.
He said the Commission would ensure that funds borrowed for any project are monitored to ensure that the projects are executed especially at the grassroots level.
“It is true that one of the lacunas today is that local government funds are transmitted through the State Governments, but it has become necessary that either that this scenario is altered or that local governments are restructured to ensure that 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.
The former local government chairman while quoting the Nigerian Economic Sustainability plan, said: “40 % of the population of Nigeria are poor because among other considerations, this percentage earn less than N137,000 per annum. It has further stated that COVID-19 crisis will multiply the misery if unchecked.
“Majority of these poor Nigerians reside in LGAs. Following from this dangerous scenario the government plans to work in close collaboration with State Governments as way of solving this problems. This is obviously going to be added responsibility to the local government authorities who will manage the process.”