Uche Usim, Abuja
As Nigeria battles with a plethora of socio-economic and security challenges, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday assured that all hopes are not lost as the country, if galvanized by good leadership, has the capability of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
The President gave the hope in his democracy day broadcast in Abuja.
According to him, the country’s bloated population should not been seen solely as a blight, because various nations have leveraged on the potential of having a huge population to advance various causes.
He said: “This task is by no means unattainable. China has done it. India has done it. Indonesia has done it. Nigeria can do it. These are all countries characterized by huge burdens of population.
“China and Indonesia succeeded under authoritarian regimes. India succeeded in a democratic setting. We can do it. With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years”, he said.
According to the president, a database of poor and vulnerable households is being carefully built based on age, gender, disability, educational levels for proper planning in line with his administration’s war against poverty.
“A database of unemployed but qualified youth has also been developed under the National Social Investment Programme which can be used by the public and private sectors for recruitment purposes. “Cumulatively, nearly two million beneficiaries have received aid under this Programme apart from Anchors Borrowers Programme and School Feeding initiative each reaching two million recipients. And we will do more.
“We are at advanced stages of securing investments to modernize and expand our transmission and distribution infrastructure, ensuring that electricity is available and affordable for all Nigerians,” he added.
The president also said the nation’s huge gas reserves has made Nigeria a net exporter of urea, adding that investors were being called on to develop more natural gas-based petrochemical projects.
He, however, regretted the worrisome level of infrastructural decay, despite the enormous resources of the coolest.
“There remains an urgent need to modernise our roads and bridges, electricity grid, ports and rail systems.
“Whilst agriculture and industrial output have recovered since the recession, we are more committed than ever to work with the private sector to improve productivity and accelerate economic growth.
“The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index which is the gauge of manufacturing activity in the country has also risen for 26 consecutive months since March 2017 indicating continuous growth and expansion in our manufacturing sector”, he noted.
President Buhari lamented the perennial Apapa traffic crisis, lamenting that it still takes too long for goods to clear at the seaports as the roads leading to them are congested.
“It still takes too long for routine and regulatory approvals to be secured. These issues affect our productivity and we are committed to addressing them permanently.
“Our government will continue work to reduce social and economic inequality through targeted social investment programs, education, technology and improved information.
“Our social intervention programmes are a model for other nations. Together with state governments, we provide millions of school children with meals in primary schools, micro loans to traders and entrepreneurs, skills and knowledge acquisition support to graduates and of course, conditional cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society”, he noted.
On transportation, he said several rail, seaport and airport projects were at various stages of completion.
“We will open the arteries of transportation nationwide.
“We have water, arable land, forests, oil and gas and vast quantities of solid minerals. We are blessed with an equable climate. However, the bulk of our real wealth lies in agriculture, livestock, forestry and mining. We possess all the ingredients of a major economic power on the world stage,” the President stated.