The Federal Government would pay out N60 billion to poor Nigerians in 2016, the office of the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, disclosed on Sunday, saying that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was determined to lifting the poor from squalor and hopelessness.
The Presidency unveiled its comprehensive plan in a statement, and repeated electoral promises such as paying N5000 a month to one million unemployed graduates, feeding primary school pupils every school day to make learning easy, employing 500, 000 Nigerians and training about 370, 000 others to empower them with new skills and knowledge.
In all, about N60 billion would be paid out to extremely poor Nigerians.
It did not only repeat electoral promises made last year before President Muhammadu Buhari defeated GoodluckJonathan. It gave specifics on who will benefit and how each of the six welfare packages it has unveiled would be financed.
The government said President Buhari has proposed N500 billion in the 2016 budget for social welfare investments because he intends to touch the very people who are in greater needs; the already suffering Nigerians.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity in the Office of the acting President, Mr. Laolu Akande, argued in a statement he signed that at no time in the nation’s budgetary history had the federal government made a specific vote of such volume for social welfare.
“Even economic historians now say that not only is the half a trillion Naira vote unprecedented, but it is also the greatest service ever done to the Nigerian state and people by any federal government administration,” Akande said.
Akande noted that the six social safety plans released by the presidency would reduce high levels of poverty and vulnerabilities, while also increasing Nigeria’s Human Development Index on the global UN rankings.
“The President’s vision is to increase investments in human capital to guarantee security for all, employment and improved well-being of the people,” the Acting President’s media aide added, referring to President Buhari who is on holiday.
Akande said past attempts to address poverty have suffered because of insufficient political will, presence of various un-coordinated initiatives and poorly targeted beneficiaries among other factors, pitfalls the present administration is trying to avoid.
Going into details, Akande said for the Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, where one million extremely poor Nigerians will receive N5000 monthly in 2016, the money would be paid directly to the beneficiaries through a payment system that is being worked out.
He did not, however, explain how the one million beneficiaries would be selected, but added that the World Bank and the Bill Gates Foundation are collaborating with the presidency to develop an efficient payment system.
All together, he said, about N60 billion would be paid out to extremely poor Nigerians. And the implementation of the programme would start once the budget is passed.
Akande disclosed, that there would also be direct payment in the Homegrown School Feeding Programme.
“In the case of the CCT, those one million poor Nigerians would be paid directly, while in the case of the Homegrown School Feeding, the suppliers of the meals to the primary school pupils would also be paid directly by the federal government. There would be no middle agents involved official or private,” Akande said.
He said the recipients of the CCT would meet the conditions of their children participating in immunisation and school enrollment but also boost the economy as the money would boost consumer spending in the economy.
Akande said the Homegrown School Feeding programme, the federal government will start a pilot scheme in selected states once the budget is passed. An estimate of over N96 woos being proposed to be spent on the Homegrown School Feeding this year.
The one-meal-a-day programme is also being supported by the Imperial College in the UK through one of its agencies Partnership for Child Development, PCD.
According to Akande, the Homegrown School Feeding will not only feed the children and help their learning significantly, but it would also boost the local economy of the states and the local communities.
The Buhari presidency has four other social investment plans, including the 500,000 direct jobs, where unemployed graduates would be trained and hired to become volunteer teachers in their communities while looking for jobs in their chosen profession.
There is also a Youth Employment plan that would take 370,000 non-graduate youths through skills acquisition and vocational training programmes.
Like the teaching jobs, the selection of beneficiaries for this scheme would be done on states and FCT basis, opened to all Nigerians of different shades.
For small scale traders, artisans and market women, there is the Micro Credit scheme where one million Nigerians would get a one-time soft loan of N60,000 each through the Bank of Industry, he said.
And finally there is the Free Education plan for students of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, STEM where government will pay tuition for 100,000 students.
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