Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that about 110 million Nigerians are living in poverty, stressing that two-tenth of that figure were in extreme poverty.
Osinbajo made the revelation while speaking at an event hosted by the president of Ghana, Mr. John Mahama, on Africa and Sustainable Development Goals on the sidelines of the African Union meeting in Kigali, Rwanda on Saturday, July 16, 2016
A spokesperson, Laolu Akande, made the vice president’s speech available to the press.
The vice president, who is representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the summit, said Nigeria and other African nations have to rise up to the urgent need of addressing the problems of poverty and inequality, stating that the General Buhari-led administration initiated what he called “the largest social protection programme in the history of the country”.
“In Nigeria, in the current budget cycle, we have the largest social protection programme in the history of the country. It’s a N500bn programme,” Osinbajo said.
“Basically, we are looking at lifting many out of poverty, of course many are familiar with the size of the Nigerian state and we have close to hundred and ten million people who are poor and about two-tenth are in extreme poverty.
“So it is a very huge problem and part of what we are trying to do is to look at how not just to empower people but also to ensure that what they are given is sustainable.
“For the women, we are doing a programme, micro-credit programme for a million market women and artisans.
“All would be given facilities, training facilities as well to enable them to be able to do some work for themselves and to continue to be able to live.” He said.
The vice president explained that the micro-credit loan to women is to make sure that they handle money better and do a much better work on the whole. He also explained that in the case of Conditional Cash Transfer, the government is also targeting the women.
However, he admitted that the government had “problems” in “determining” the poor that would benefit from the programmes, revealing that some international organisations came to the aid of the government.
“In determining who the poorest is, we had problems on that, but we have very good assistance from the World Bank and the Bill Gates Foundation. They helped in trying to map the really poor.
“We had to get inside the communities looking for the poorest of the poor with the small sum of money which is about N5000 (about $25), which is a sum of money that would be given to the poorest every month, which may enable them feed themselves and find something that they may do and on the condition that they send their children to school and participate in immunisation.
“So we are really excited about some of the works we are trying to do around the SDGs and we are hopeful that we’ll be able to get the Social Protection Programme working.
“We just recently appointed a Senior Special Assistant on SDGs. We also have a full SDG Implementation office which is fully equipped and we hope to be able to carry out all of the proposals we made and effect them within the shortest possible time,” he said.
The main summit of the AU holds on Sunday, July 17, 2016, when over 30 African leaders are expected to attend.