Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said that the utmost priority of President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration was to reduce poverty and address social inequalities, urging other African leaders to do same.
Osinbajo who spoke at an event hosted by the President of Ghana, Mr. John Mahama on the sidelines of the African Union meeting in Kigali, Rwanda on Saturday said the resolve was in line with the tenets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Osinbajo who lead the Nigerian delegation to the continent-wide meeting told his audience made up by a number of presidents and several heads of delegations that whole idea of the SDGs “is really about addressing inequality and poverty.”
He said: “The problems are so obvious that however we described the programme, we really must do something and something urgently.
“In Nigeria, in the current budget cycle we have the largest social protection programme in the history of the country. It’s a N500b programme-(worth over $2.5b as at the time budget was signed.)
“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.
“And we think that giving this micro-credit loan to women is to make sure that they handle money better and do a much better work on the whole.
“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 (which is roughly about $25 dollars or there about) 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 immunization.
“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.