From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has said the Federal Government by the end of December 2020 had identified about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable Nigerians.
According to him, all those identified have since been registered into the National Social Register.
The Vice President spoke Tuesday while virtually inaugurating the Economic Sustainability Plan’s Cash Transfer scheme aimed at delivering financial support to at least one million urban-based households through a technology-based approach called the Rapid Response Register.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the VP, Laolu Akande, in a statement Osinbajo as saying, “As of December 31, 2020, we have identified and registered about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals into the National Social Register; equivalent to about 5.7 million households.
“Through this project, we are currently injecting about N10 billion directly into the hands of about two million poor and vulnerable people every month.
“This is about the largest evidence-based effort by any administration on poverty reduction and its impact on the lives of the poor is huge; by way of improving the livelihoods of the beneficiaries through enhanced household purchasing power; smoothening consumption; increasing savings and acquisition of household assets; and improving the local economy. There are many more ramifications.”
The VP said the successful activation of the RRR presents the administration’s vision of reducing extreme poverty by lifting at least 20 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next two years was now within reach.
Osinbajo said, “The groundbreaking success of the RRR, now emboldens us to achieve our aspiration of a social security programme for a minimum of 20 million Nigerians in the next two years.
“This will be the largest of its kind on the continent. This (aspiration) is, at least from the perspective of this tested approach, now well within our reach.
“The only constraint, of course, is the funding which we must look for because, this country deserves a social security scheme that will not merely alleviate poverty but also create wealth for the millions of those who are waiting for this opportunity.
“Our government launched the National Social Protection Policy in 2017 to provide the framework for institutionalizing the work we started since 2016 on reducing extreme poverty in Nigeria, based on our administration’s vision to create a comprehensive social security programme for the poor and vulnerable and thereafter the pledge to lift 100 million Nigerian’s out of poverty in ten years.”
Earlier in her remarks, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, was quoted as saying that the initiative would provide a gateway to other important government programmes, adding that Nigeria now has a database for impact tracking and the expansion of social interventions and related programmes, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of extending financial support to more Nigerians.
She said, “By design, this register links to other databases such as banking information of respondents and national identity numbers. It is also a process that is advanced in unifying national databank towards the delivery of social development in Nigeria.
“There is no doubt that in future, as has been demonstrated in the previous presentation, we would be reverting to the process used here and the register itself, to aid emergency assistance.”
The World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr Subham Chaudhuri, on his part commended the Federal Government for the initiative, noting it as a critical component in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While pledging the support of the World Bank for the project, Chaudhuri emphasised the need for stakeholders to remain transparent in the selection and disbursement of the funds to the beneficiaries.