Uche Usim, Abuja
The Federal Government on Thursday revealed that it has spent $22.216 million, out the $322 million recovered Abacha loot, on various empowerment schemes in its strategic efforts to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
It also rejected the recent report of the World Poverty Clock which identified Nigeria as the poverty capital of the world because half the population (91.6 million) are now extremely poor. The government, while querying the report, said the data and parameters used were 2012 figures and occurrences; which neither captured current realities nor consistent with information domiciled with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Speaking in Abuja while giving account of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) of the Buhari administration, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, revealed that the disbursement of Abacha loot commenced in 2018 as the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) needed to sort out issues with the back end and ensured it dismantled all identified glitches.
According to her, the Social Investment Programmes are anchored on four broad pillars which are the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT), National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP).
She added that each of the schemes uniquely targets different subgroups of Nigerians for empowerment; irrespective of religion, political affiliation and social class.
On N-Power, Uwais said 500,000 people spread across 774 Local Government Areas have been recruited to teach in public schools, act as health workers in primary health centres and as agriculture extension advisors to smallholder farmers in various communities.
“N-power is the employability and enhancement programme of the Federal Government aimed at imbibing the learn-work-entrepreneurship culture in youths between 18 and 35 for graduates and non-graduates. To provide a level-playing field for applicants, the application and selection process is structured to be technologically driven, with verification conducted first by Nigeria Inter Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) (through the BVN) and subsequently at the state level, by the state working with the National Orientation Agency and other partners.
“We are also about to commence the N-Power STEAM Junior programme, which will engage pupils in 12 government primary and secondary schools (as a pilot) to learn, as part of their school curriculum, computer programming, graphics, animation, etc. This is in a bid to develop the knowledge economy, with an eye on the future”, she explained.