Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has challenged African nations to urgently address the problems of poverty and inequality even as the global community focuses on its new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Vice President made the call on Saturday in a statement by his spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande, while speaking at a side event hosted by the President of Ghana, Mr John Mahama, on Africa and SDGs at the African Union meeting underway in Kigali, Rwanda.
Osinbajo, who led the Nigerian delegation to the continent-wide meeting told the gathering of Presidents and several Heads of delegations that the whole idea of the SDGs “is really about addressing inequality and poverty.
“The problems are so obvious that however we describe the programme, we really must do something and something urgently.”
He cited the example of the 500 billion Naira social investment programme to address poverty in Nigeria by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
“In Nigeria, in the current budget cycle we have the largest social protection programme in the history of the country. It’s a 500 billion Naira programme (worth over $2.5bn 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,” he said.
Poorest Of The Poor
Professor Osinbajo hinted that Nigeria would offer the Conditional Cash Transfer to women, especially the less privileged whom he said were difficult to identify.
“In the case of Conditional Cash Transfer, again we are handing these to women. We are giving (this to) another million, to the poorest of the poor.
“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,” he said.