Nigeria’s poverty gap is a crisis we must tackle, says Laolu Akande

Laolu Akande featuring on Channels TV's Sunrise Daily on Friday, November 24, 2023

By Oluwafemi Popoola and Olumide Awofesobi

Former presidential spokesperson and veteran journalist, Laolu Akande, has raised the alarm over an increasing rate of poverty in the country while advising the Federal Government to prioritize dealing with the frightening poverty situation in the country.

Speaking on Channels TV’s news documentary programme, Sunrise Daily on Friday, November 24, 2023, Akande, who is the station’s political analyst, spoke on the topic of ensuring fiscal responsibility by the government, electoral reforms and other pressing national matters.

The veteran journalist described the poverty gap in the country as “tremendous” and noted that people would always find stiff resistance to government spending regardless the spending is justified or not.

Reacting to the ongoing outrage by many Nigerians over what they perceive as exorbitant and questionable expenditures by the Lagos State Government and Nigeria’s controversial N2.8 trillion 2023 supplementary budget recently passed by the Senate, Akande said the tremendous rate of the poverty problem in the country is partly responsible for the distrust among Nigerians towards the government spendings.

His words, “I want to say two things, number one if you look at the fact that people are now paying attention, there is a greater focus, especially on what is happening in the state, in terms of the budget. That is a good thing.”

“The level of transparency has increased, so, there is more attention that is focused on it. We expect that the governors will begin to also modify. You are going to see that because once these issues are been aired publicly, it will increase the level of their responsibilities. I expect that. That is a good thing,” Akande said.

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Continuing, “The other important point I want to emphasize is that the poverty gap in our country is so tremendous that the ordinary people cannot imagine the kind of money that has been spent on certain aspects of governance.

“Look, the truth of the matter is that governance is costly. And we can have that discussion in terms of what has to be done to reduce the cost of governance.

“If you’re going to have the government do their work, there is going to be a lot of expenses indeed. But the kind of poverty that we have in our society does not allow people to even begin to imagine even if some of these figures were moderate.

“Now I will say there is a lot of excesses without a doubt, there are things that have been cut off. But we need to deal with the issue of poverty. Poor people cannot reason that you need this amount of money. A billion in our budget comes to even just one per cent but you cannot tell that to a poor man.

When asked if Nigeria has evolved in its practice of democracy, Akande said, “There is no doubt democracy is the best form of governance that has been invented by humankind. The question is whether our political elites are ready to serve patriotically.”

He added, “If the political elites have 50 per cent love for the country, just 50 per cent, Nigeria would be transformed. That is one area that we need to focus our attention on, and that is why it is important for the people to understand in a democracy, it is about the people.”

“The people have to be aware, the people have to be engaged, that’s why I thought that the level of voter apathy is just incredible. 20 per cent of the registered voters go out to vote,” Akande concluded.