By Akpandem James, Special Adviser (Media) to the Minister of Budget and National Planning
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, says Federal Government poverty alleviation initiatives are making an impact in reducing poverty.
He stated that the implementation of these programmes has made many Nigerians, particularly the poor and vulnerable, to feel directly the impact of governance. He recalled that last Sunday, the 20th of January, he was at an event organised by the Ministry of Information at which some of the beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme gave very moving testimonies of how their lives have been impacted by the programmes.
“Listening to these testimonies brought home to me the importance of the work we are doing and how real lives are transformed by these interventions. This work is important, and we must all work hard to do more. Step by step we are helping to reduce poverty and ameliorate the plight of the poorest of our citizens”, he indicated.
Senator Udoma said whilst there is no doubt that these programmes have been impactful we must continue to intensify the implementation of these laudable programmes so that the benefits may touch more and more Nigerians. He assured that government will continue to focus attention and activity on the poverty alleviation programmes and will implement them consistently over a number of years to ensure that we achieve the desired dramatic reduction in poverty.
The Minister who was speaking at an International Social Protection Cross-learning Summit in Abuja on Tuesday, said the determination of the Buhari Administration to continue its work to substantially reduce poverty among Nigerians are the major reasons for the Summit; to see how the lessons from implementing government’s social protection programmes can be applied to further improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable.
The Summit was organised by International Development Partners working with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
He explained that the objective of the summit is to deepen stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of the benefits of continuing the investments we are making in social protection related programmes in Nigeria. “It will also provide the opportunity for participants to be briefed about the the various social protection programmes put in place by this Administration since we assumed office three and half years ago,” he added. Participants would be expected to proffer suggestions on how to improve the impact of these very popular programmes.
This explains the selection of the theme for the Summit “Improving the Lives of Poor and Vulnerable Nigerians: Lessons from Implementing Social Protection in Nigeria”.
The Minister pointed out that the issue of social protection is a core component of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which was introduced in 2017. “The Plan has three broad objectives, namely: Restoring Growth, Investing in our People, and Building a Globally Competitive Economy. We are committed to the implementation of the ERGP. Social protection is part of our programme of ‘investing in our people’, one of the three broad objectives of the Plan.”
He stated that “as a demonstration of that commitment we have, since 2016, consistently set aside a provision of N500 billion in our annual budgets to address issues of social protection. This is unprecedented in the history of our country. In addition, the total capital budget for social development programmes across MDAs (Health, Education, Labour and Employment, Youth and Sports) experienced a quantum leap from N48.17 billion in 2015 to N214.48 billion in 2018.”
Following on the recommendations of the 2016 Summit which was focused on “Evidence and Learning in Improving Social Protection in Nigeria”, the Minister announced that Nigeria has developed her own National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) which will be formally launched during the current summit.
The NSPP has 16 measures aimed at addressing the challenges of human development. It provides a mix of policies and programmes designed for individuals and households to reduce poverty and socio-economic shocks, promote and enhance livelihood and life of dignity among our people. This policy is meant to cater for the vulnerable citizens of this country from cradle to grave.