Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has assured Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will pull at least 20 million citizens out of extreme poverty in the next two years.
Osinbajo spoke on Tuesday in Abuja while virtually kick-starting a new cash transfer scheme to be facilitated via a wholly technology-based approach called the Rapid Response Register (RRR).
The new scheme is the means by which urban poor and vulnerable population can be speedily identified, using geographic satellite technology and other related means for delivering cash to households affected by the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The Cash Transfer Scheme is an item under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), chaired by Professor Osinbajo; it is a Federal Government-run special economic response plan to alleviate the harsh economic realities imposed by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice-President, Mr. Laolu Akande, said Osinbajo also noted that beyond poverty alleviation, government needed to take social security to the level of wealth creation.
The Vice-President regretted that the primary constraint to running successful social security would be funding, which he said the government must make available.
“The groundbreaking success of the RRR now emboldens us to achieve our aspiration of a social security programme for a minimum of 20 million Nigerians in the next two years. This will be the largest of its kind on the continent. This (aspiration) is, at least from the perspective of this tested approach, now well within our reach.
“The only constraint, of course, is the funding, which we must look for, because this country deserves a social security scheme that will not merely alleviate poverty but also create wealth for the millions of those who are waiting for this opportunity.”
“Our government launched the National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) in 2017 to provide the framework for institutionalising the work we started since 2016 on reducing extreme poverty in Nigeria, based on our administration’s vision to create a comprehensive social security programme for the poor and vulnerable and thereafter the pledge to lift 100 million Nigerian’s out of poverty in ten years,” he said.
Osinbajo maintained that the launch of the (RRR) social protection method of targeting, which is the first strategy to be developed and tested in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, would enable Nigeria to tackle poverty in a more systematic manner, leveraging technology to expand the scope of the interventions.
He said: “As of December 31, 2020, we had identified and registered about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals into the National Social Register; equivalent to about 5.7 million households. Through this project, we are currently injecting about N10 billion directly into the hands of about 2 million poor and vulnerable people every month.
“This is about the largest evidence-based effort by any administration on poverty reduction and its impact on the lives of the poor is huge; by way of improving the livelihoods of the beneficiaries through enhanced household purchasing power; smoothening consumption; increasing savings and acquisition of household assets; and improving the local economy. There are many more ramifications.”
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq said the initiative would provide a gateway to other important government programmes.
She added that Nigeria has developed a database for impact tracking and the expansion of social interventions and related programmes, in line with President Buhari’s vision of extending financial support to more Nigerians.