By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS).
The committee has Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as its chairman.
Speaking at the inauguration, President Buhari reiterated government’s commitment to lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in10 years with a well-researched framework for implementation and funding.
He noted that the NPRGS had already proposed the establishment of a private equity Fund, the Nigeria Investment and Growth Fund (NIG-Fund), to lead resource mobilisation drive and also to manage the resources in a sustainable manner.
“This journey began in January 2021 when I directed the Chairman of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to collaboratively work together to articulate what that will lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“I am happy to note that the process of designing this inclusive poverty reduction strategy recognised and addressed past mistakes as well as laid the foundation for a sustainable poverty reduction.
“This would be done through wide range consultations held at all levels of government, development partners, the private sector as well as the civil society,’’ he said.
He added that the NPRGS would address underlying causes of poverty on the basis of which it developed programmes that would deal with the multi-dimensional nature of poverty
This, he said, was within the practical context of comparative advantage of human and natural resources in the various geo-political zones.
“The major challenge before this National Steering Committee is to translate our good intentions into positive impact of for the average Nigerian so that we create an appreciative impact on the poverty situation in our country.
“If India can lift 271million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, Nigeria can surely lift 100 million people 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 president said.
Buhari listed the responsibilities of the steering committee to include anchoring collaborative efforts and providing oversight for the implementation of the strategy.
It would also 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.
According to him, the committee will also monitor progress and any other effort that will enhance the attainment of the objective of lifting 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years.
“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 states and local governments.
“This call becomes more pertinent in the face of recent forecasts by the IMF, 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 said.
Members of the NPRGS also include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Chief of Staff to the President.
Present at the ceremony were the vice-president, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, some governors and top government officials,
Governor of Ekiti State (South West), Governor of Delta (South South), Governor of Sokoto State (North West), Governor of Borno (North East), Governor of Nasarawa State (North Central) and Governor of Ebonyi (South East) are also members of the committee.
Others are the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
Yet others are the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Minister of Labour and Employment, Minister of Education and Minister of Health.
The president urged the committee to begin work immediately so that the Technical Working Group (TWG) would also “begin putting the nuts and bolts together.
“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.
“Leverage on existing development partner support programmes and projects with potentials for quick-wins like the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus,’’ he said.
The president said the responsibilities were onerous, but expressed confidence that the committee would 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 mobilisation drive and also manage the resources in a sustainable manner,’’ he added.
In his remarks, Vice-President Osinbajo said the NPRGS would consolidate other efforts of the government to reduce poverty which included the N-Power, School Feeding and Conditional Cash Transfer programmes.
Osinbajo noted that the president’s position that local governments, states and the Federal Government should work jointly to alleviate poverty would be properly reflected in the framework and implementation, stressing the need for access and inclusivity.
Earlier, Boss Mustapha said the poverty situation in the country already 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. (NAN)