Former governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has underscored the need for Nigeria to close the gap between the rich and the poor.
Fayemi, who gave the advice on Tuesday in Abuja while answering questions from senators in the course of his screening as a ministerial nominee, said it was unfortunate that no fewer than 110 million Nigerians live below the poverty line on $2 per day.
“Poverty is clearly deep in our country. If you look at our manifesto, we put it at a figure of about 110 million Nigerians who live below the $2 per day margin in our country.
“It is not really poverty, it is inequality. You cannot have progress in any country, where one per cent of the population controls 80 per cent of the resources.
“The second issue to tackle, which I believe our government is taking head long, is corruption.
“The amount of leakages in the system in our country is unacceptable and we need to do something fundamental about it.
“Leadership by example would have to be where to start. We need to reduce significantly the recurrent expenditure in our country.
“We also need to ensure that crime is linked to sanctions so that impunity will not continue to drive the country deeper and deeper into poverty.’’
He also spoke of the need to diversify the nation’s economy in addition to plugging all leakages from the economy.
The former governor also made a case for the creation of adequate job opportunities.
Fayemi spoke about his predecessor’s monetary obligations to banks, contractors, and individuals, which he had to settle.
“I met obligations in excess of 30 billion naira to banks, to contractors, to a range of people that government owed; and I took it in my stride.
“Completed virtually all the projects started by the Oni administration; paid off the bulk of the outstanding obligations to contractors and then we moved on.
“As governor, I borrowed; but it is not in the range of what has been bandied.”