The Conference of Northern States Civil Society Networks has raised an alarm over rising poverty level in the country, especially, in the northern part, insisting that all the 18 presidential candidates must explain to Nigerians their intentions to tackle it.
To this end, the group prayed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shall do everything possible to uphold its integrity to conduct credible, free, fair and transparent elections come 2023.
According to the CSOs, the 19 northern states and Abuja, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) should investigate the federal government’s social investment programme and establish why poverty is on the increase.
Spokesman of the group and President Kano Civil Society Forum, Amb Ibrahim A Waiya, said they were concerned with the rise in unemployment which has left a large chunk of Nigerians in abject poverty and unemployment.
“The most recent figures made available by the National Bureau of Statistics referred to as Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Survey, has unambiguously indicated that things are worse than what they were formerly observed and predicted in 2015.
“The result of this survey, amongst other issues, have exposed in detail the effects of corruption in the national economic lives of the people, as 63% of persons living within Nigeria representing 133 million people, are multi dimensionally poor, while the 65% of the poor representing 86 million people live in the North.
“Similarly 35% of this figure representing nearly 47 million live in the South. The report also stated clearly that Poverty levels across States vary significantly, with the incidence of multidimensional poverty ranging from as low as 27% in Ondo (South) to a high level of 91% in Sokoto (North).
“This survey which was carried out by a government owned agency even proved beyond reasonable doubt that the world had underestimated the poverty rating of Nigeria, as reported on World Poverty Clock.
“Riding on the above, it is becoming more evident that, the crusade against corruption in Nigeria, is most needed now more than ever, as most of the factors that contribute to the level of poverty in Nigeria, are attributed to the high level of corruption in governance as well as in other sectors of the economy.
“It is on this note, we feel the imperative need to specially acknowledge the efforts of the current leadership of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) led by a focused, energetic and vibrant young man, Abdulrasheed Bawa, the EFCC Chairman, who in his ingenuity has gradually institutionalised a whistle blowing system that has exposed several conduits of financial embezzlement among government officials (civil servants and elected officials) across the country.
“The north seemed to be taking a lead in this, no wonder the just concluded multidimensional poverty index survey which placed Northern Nigeria at 65% representing 86 million people, out of the total estimated multidimensional poor which stood at 133 million people in Nigeria, ” Waya said.
The CSOs encouraged the leadership of EFCC to continue on its current path of chasing the corrupt elements in and out of power irrespective of tribe, religion and region to rid our society of corruption, and to bring them to book.
“And we equally encourage the Commission to continue to uphold the best practices of professionalism and neutrality, and also to implore the commission to continue to remain focused and should not allow itself to be distracted by noisemakers and politically motivated sentiments.
“While EFCC currently focuses keenly on ensuring effective trail and arrest of currency speculators and those who stashed funds for illicit purposes, we call on the attention of EFCC leadership to be alert on the after-currency redesign effects, to avoid hoarding of the new notes and other misgivings by financial institutions and politicians across the country.
“We wish to implore the leadership of the EFCC to consider using the plea bargain option to dispose off the old and long pending litigations that have been in the courts from 5 years above, to save public resources wasted on hiring lawyers for ligations, which many at times the defendants are set free in the end.
“As Nigerians yearn for a better Nigeria, Civil Society Organizations and international community are closely monitoring the unfolding political happenings in the country.
“It is our prayer that INEC shall do everything possible to uphold its integrity to conduct credible, free, fair and transparent elections come 2023.
“Consequently, as part of resolve to promote the advocacy for good governance in Nigeria, the Conference is planning to engage some selected Presidential candidates for setting a development agenda that shall have the bearing of some critical issues of concern to Northern Nigeria, such as: out of school children which has now been placed at 20 million, poverty, maternal health, security and the rest.
“It is our hope that, we shall secure the commitment of the potentially engaged presidential candidates, by ensuring that adequate priority is accorded to such development deficit through aggressive and well defined interventions programmes to address them.
“We wish to also, considering the huge investment of this government on social investment programmes, and the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics on the increased rate of poverty in the country. We beseech the leadership of Anti- graft agencies such as EFFC and ICPC to conduct a discrete investigation on the funds claimed to be disbursed by some federal government Ministries and Agencies to find out what has gone wrong.
“The investigation into this matter is significant, as there is no correlation between the funds invested in the social protection programmes and the increased rate of poverty in the country.
“It is pertinent to commend the efforts of the security agencies in the recent weeks for their continued onslaught on bandits and insurgents across many states in the country. And we do hope that, Federal Government shall continue to do everything possible to neutralize the bandits completely before another rainy season that gives them cover comes. It is our hope that this tempo shall be sustained to ensure that, security and public safety is restored in all parts of the country.
“While we commend the doggedness of the Muhammadu Buhari led government for the giant strides at ensuring that, the oil drilling in some states have become a reality, similarly, we wish to call on the federal government to expedite actions to ensure the completion of other critical projects such as Mambila Power project, Ajaokuta Steel Company, Baro Ports, Abuja to Kano Road, Kano to Katsina Road, Kano to Lagos Rail line, Lagos Ibadan Road and the rest around the country. This we believe shall surely promote economic activities in the country, as well provide job opportunities for the Nigerians citizens.
“It is pertinent to recognise the foresight and commitment of the House of Representatives for taking the bull by the horn to establish a commission for Almajiris and out of School Children, through a bill which has successfully passed the second reading”, the CSOs added.