Posted by News Express | 5 July 2018 | 1,125 times
The recent damning rating of Nigeria as the world's poverty capital has been largely linked to diversion and or, outright looting of funds set aside to drive sustainable economic growth and job creation by government officials entrusted with public funds.
Making this assertion in a joint statement issued in Lagos are two Non Governmental Organisations, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) and the Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative (SEEDI).
The statement signed by Olanrewaju Suraju for HEDA and Celestine Okeke for SEEDI, also said both NGOs will continue to demand economic and social justice for the over 80m Nigerians living in extreme poverty.
According to the statement, the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) must be commended for on the investigation, arrest and prosecution of the former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang, as relates to the alleged diversion of the N2bn he received from the Central Bank N220bn MSMEDF while in office as Governor.
It, however, stressed that, "We also call on the agency to beam its searchlight on other past governors who also diverted same funds between 2014 and 2016
The statement reads: "It is no longer news that Nigeria reportedly displaced India as the world’s poverty capital, neither is it fresh news that 6 Nigerians enter into extreme poverty every minute. It is also no longer fresh news that 600 Nigerian Women die from conditions related to childbirth every hour, neither is it fresh news that 800 Nigerians die of malaria every single day.
"The sad reality above, however, has not deterred some former and current government officials entrusted with public funds from diverting and or, outright looting of funds set aside to drive sustainable economic growth and job creation, this is the case with the fraudulent diversion of over N39bn by 24 state governments from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s N220bn MSME development fund.
"The diversion and consequent inability of MSMEs across Nigeria to access the funding with a view to driving sustainable economic development and job creation, is in no small measure, responsible for the recent ranking of Nigeria as the world’s poverty capital.
"While HEDA AND SEEDI commend the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on the investigation, arrest and prosecution of the former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang, as relates to the diversion of the N2bn he received from the CBN 220bn MSMEDF while in office as Governor."
It noted further that, "The proper allocation and utilization of this particular fund certainly could have provided gainful employment for much unemployed youth mobilized by politicians, as a result of their vulnerable condition, as political thugs, armed robbers, assassins and terrorists as the country is experienced and experiencing in notorious Offa robbery, herdsmen-farmers conflicts and Boko Haram.
"We will continue to demand economic and social justice for the over 80m Nigerians living in extreme poverty and hereby call on the Nigerian government to treat as a serious crime, the diversion of funds set aside for economic growth and job creation."
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