No excuse for poverty in Nigeria – EU

European Union Ambassador Dr. David MacRae has said Nigeria had no reasons to be poor with all the available resources in the country and a fast growing economy.

He added at a media parley in Abuja on Tuesday: “It would have been far better if those resources had been used to deliver basics services like education, health and infrastructure to the people. These are the things needed to be put in place.

He went on to identify corruption, impunity and poor resources management as causes of poverty in Nigeria and said “What this country needs are jobs; jobs for the people especially young people. If young people had jobs they won’t be unnecessarily agitated and getting involved in misdeeds. But without work, without just income, and no social safety net in Nigeria, the people will continue to face poverty. Half of the population in this country are below poverty line.”

MacRae said no country with cases of human rights abuse could have a meaningful development.

According to him, the reported killings of innocent civilians in the recent clashes between security forces and Boko Haram and other reported violations by security forces call for concern.

He said, “The fight against terrorism must be conducted within the law rather than outside of it. Anything less is unacceptable. Those responsible for containing the crisis must act with utmost respect for the rule of law, with measures in place to ensure that the innocent and their property are protected.

“If there have been abuses of human rights or abuses of law, those who have done this should be brought to justice. This is obviously the way all civilized nations behave and we regard Nigeria as one of these.”

The EU boss lamented how poor power supply was affecting businesses in the country, adding that, government must tackle impunity for a healthy investment drive.

MacRae said the commission was ready to support Nigeria to strengthen democracy as “it is relatively new to the country.”

He added, “It is not something you can build overnight. The National Assembly has to do its job, it has to be equipped to do its job, it has to understand this role, it has to be trained to exercise its responsibilities.”

Citing the EU Independent observer which described the 2011 election as the best since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, MacRae noted that there was still room for improvement.

He said, “We have a situation in Nigeria. Nigeria is regarded as the leader of Africa, as the leading country in this continent, as the largest black population on earth, with the economy which is growing fast, relatively speaking, but regrettably, poverty is not diminishing in the country and jobs are not being created.”

Considering the population of Nigeria, MacRae said, there was little the union could do to help without Nigeria’s government playing its role.

Said he, “Whatever we do without development cooperation programme can’t possibly be adequate to meet the needs of the population of that size. It is Nigeria’s own resources which must be used to build on these. We will do what we can to help especially in area of governance including effective service delivery.”

MacRae bemoaned the high mortality rate in Nigeria describing it as worrisome, saying “more needs to be done”.

He stressed the “need for a radical shifting of resources of this country to address the basic issues for the interest of people.”

Source: The Punch.

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