Nigeria’s poverty level alarming – Osinbajo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said that the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) being implemented by the Federal Government for Nigerians are not favours but their right.

He made the remark at an event showcasing the achievements of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP) of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration at the second anniversary of the administration at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja. It was tagged “A Smile for every Nigerian”

Noting that the social Investment Programme is both a heart and a head programme, he said that it is heart because the pains of poverty cannot be ignored.

He said: “I want to say to all of you that we do not consider the programme as a favour done to you. It is not. You deserve this programme because you are citizens of this country.

“This country can provide and should provide all that is in need of help and we will do our very best to provide,” he added.

He recalled that the President during the campaigns had kept on saying that everything must be done to get Nigerians out of poverty.

He said “The programme is also a head or logical common sense issue. A country’s economic development is a function of the number living above poverty level; our levels of poverty are so alarming that clearly some fundamental interventions by government are necessary.

“Often our economic development plans and budgets assume a trickle down approach namely that if we put resources in promoting industry and commerce, jobs would eventually be created and the poorest will be reached.

“The other premise is that GDP growth should translate to jobs. Both premises are flawed. First the trickle down model has proved far too slow to stem the tide of poverty in one of the fastest growing populations in the world.

“Secondly, most of the Growth was on account of the oil sector which is capital intensive  but not  labour intensive. So while we were recording Growth levels of 7% because of the high oil prices unemployment figures grew.

“In developing the APC manifesto and later our economic development  plans, we knew that government had to directly intervene with a massive social investment programme, that would tackle poverty and exclusion across the various spectra.

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“We have heard a lot about the programmes already but I would like to emphasize some of what I am particularly proud of. First is that we have shown that a massive programme can be initiated and managed on-line. The NPower programme is the largest post tertiary jobs programme in Africa. We now know that we can train large numbers electronically.

“Secondly we have demonstrated that a transparent process of employment is possible. All of these young men and women have testified that they knew nobody, paid nobody to get the jobs they now have,

“Thirdly we have achieved great success in our financial inclusion efforts  by bringing in many especially the extremely poor in the hinterlands into the formal banking system. Beneficiaries of the Conditional cash Transfer programme, home grown school feeding vendors and cooks, now have BVNs and bank accounts.

“We have also demonstrated that electronic payment on such a huge scale, across the nation is possible. Most importantly we have ensured that our programmes are in all States not just APC States, so much so that some of the Governors in non APC States even take credit for these FG programmes.

“We know that our children in public schools many from poor homes do not really care about whether the food is from one political party or the other. Most of the testimonies you have heard today, it is clear that our programmes have just simply gone.”

He pointed out that the N100b set aside for the Family Home Fund, a Social Housing Project under the SIPs is a yearly contribution to the N1 Trillion Naira Social Housing fund.

Osinbajo said “The largest in the history of the country. The World Bank, AFDB , are contributors to the fund. From this fund developers will borrow 80% of cost of project and counter fund with their own 20%. The same fund will enable us to provide inexpensive mortgages for hundreds of thousands across the country. Already the project has started in 11 States.

“We expect that this Family Housing Fund will jumpstart and expand construction exponentially across the country.

“The SIP is clearly one of the largest social intervention efforts anywhere in the world. It is complicated and diverse in its scale and scope. We are proud of the  men and women led by the SA on Social investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais.

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“That team is supervised by a very dedicated interministerial team. The Hon Ministers of Budget and Planning. Finance,” he added.

According to him, the next phase of the programme will be reopening the portals for NPower on the 13 of June.

“We are ramping up on the CCT, GEEP, and the Home Grown School FEEDING. Our targets are clear, soon enough we will put smiles on the faces of millions more,” he stated.

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, John Odigie-Oyegun, noted that the APC has contributed majorly in solidifying democracy in Nigerian in comparison with all administrations since 1999.

He recalled that the party in 2015 mobilized against a non-performing administration through the power of the votes.

But he maintained that his party took over power with the economy base totally fractured as cost of producing a barrel of oil and selling price of oil per barrel were almost at the same level.

He however assured that the President Buhari’s administration was determined to put smiles on the faces of Nigerians.

He also assured that the Nigerian economy will soon come out of recession.

Also speaking at the occasion the Senate Minority Leader and former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Senator Goodwill Akpabio, endorsed the programme and commended the Federal Government for Achaemenes recorded so far.

He said “We are always ever ready in the Senate to support any programme that will add smiles to the faces of Nigerians.

“The food programme will actually take the kids off the streets. All Nigerians must key into the programme so that things can change.

“We have never had this kind of programme before. We have a war in our hands, a war against poverty, so we must all support it,” he added.

While calling for the programme to be extended, he also jokingly said that it should be made to cover ex-politicians who presently don’t have job at hand.

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