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Start Work Immediately, Buhari Urges Committee On Poverty Reduction

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – President Mohammadu Buhari has urged the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) to commence work immediately so that the Technical Working Group (TWG) would also begin putting the nuts and bolts together.

The NPRGS is aimed at addressing the underlying causes of poverty on the basis of which it developed programmes that would deal with the multi-dimensional nature of poverty within the practical context of comparative advantage of human and natural resources in the various geo-political zones of the country.

The President gave the charge shortly after inaugurating the Steering Committee for NPRGS chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. This inauguration ceremony was attended in Abuja by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, some governors and top government officials

Buhari reiterated his commitment to lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years, with a well-researched framework for implementation and funding, adding that the NPRGS had already proposed the establishment of a private equity fund, the Nigeria Investment and Growth Fund (NIG-Fund), to lead resource mobilization drive and also manage the resources in a sustainable manner.

“You may, therefore, wish to consider providing immediate guidance to the TWG on the following, establishment of the NIG-Fund leveraging on the Development Finance Assessment Report, public and private sector funding; harmonise existing human capital development, scale up existing Poverty Reduction Initiatives such as the Social Investment Programmes, various agricultural support initiatives as well as support to Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises; and leverage on existing development partner support programmes and projects with potentials for quick-wins e.g the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus”, he said.

He listed the responsibilities of the committee to include; anchor collaborative efforts, provide oversight for the implementation of the strategy, provide guidance to Technical Working Group and Federal Ministries, Extra Ministerial Departments and Agencies, subnational governments and other stakeholders on meeting the objectives of the programme as well as monitoring progress and any other effort that would enhance attainment of the objective of lifting 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years.

He noted that the responsibilities were onerous, but expressed confidence that the committee will be able to lay the foundation and demonstrate, within the next two years, the practicality of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in or under 10 years.

“As you all know funding will always be a challenge especially in these times when resources are limited. The NPRGS has, thus, proposed the establishment of a private equity fund, the Nigeria Investment and Growth Fund (NIG-Fund), to lead our resource mobilization drive and also manage the resources in a sustainable manner.

“I am happy to note that the process of designing this inclusive poverty reduction strategy recognized and addressed past mistakes as well as laying the foundation for a sustainable poverty reduction through the wide range consultations held at all levels of government, development partners, the private sector as well as the civil society”, he added.

The President added that the major challenge before this National Steering Committee is to translate his administration’s good intention into positive impact of the average Nigerian so that “we create an appreciative impact on the poverty situation in our country”.

“If India can lift 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, Nigeria can surely lift 100 million out of poverty in 10 years. Fortunately, we have already started but we need to unlock the challenges of slow implementation, inappropriate targeting and absence of adequate resources.

“The performance of our economy despite COVID-19 gives me comfort that we can achieve our goal but we need to seriously scale up and work more with state and local governments. This call becomes more pertinent in the face of recent forecasts by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and our own Nigerian Economic Summit Group which all agreed that Nigeria needs to frontally tackle her poverty situation if our economic gains are to be sustained”, he stressed.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the committee, Vice President Osinbajo said the NPRGS would consolidate other efforts of the government to reduce poverty which include N-Power, school feeding and conditional cash transfer.

The VP noted that the President’s position that local governments, states and the federal government should work jointly to alleviate poverty in the country will be properly reflected in the framework and implementation, stressing the need for access and inclusivity.

Similarly, the SGF said the poverty situation in the country assumed an enormous proportion, with an increasing population, adding that the situation was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the administration responded to the COVID-19 poverty fallout swiftly and was able to ameliorate the situation, and also ensured a quick exit from recession.

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