Abuja — The Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, leads other ministers to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years as declared by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Akume along with Ministers of Environment; Water Resources; Women Affairs; Agriculture; and Industry, Trade, and Investment received the Report of Inter-Ministerial Expert Technical Committee on Presidential Poverty Reduction Initiative, PPRI, which was presented by the Coordinator of the Committee, Dr Bassey Etim who also doubles as Director Human Resources Management in the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs.
The Presidential Poverty Reduction Initiative is being coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, which is under the auspices of the Inter-Ministerial Forum, which formed the basis of the retreat and this report aims to actualize the vision of President Buhari.
According to the report a list of projects has been developed for consideration and prioritization by the inter-ministerial forum, and project delivery strategy will in some cases involve government using budgeted funds to deliver pilot projects and possibly requisite infrastructure such as access roads, electricity water, and others to set the benchmark for the private sector investors.
Private investors will then use the pilot cases as a standard for investment. Multiple cottage industries and factories would develop as feeders for raw materials or support services to the main industrial complexes.
The report also included that projects to be implemented under the PPRI have been classified into 'a'; those to be implemented almost exclusively by the private sector, 'b'; those to be jointly implemented under PPP and those 'c'; solely by the government.
However, the report pointed hat to engender private sector interest, there must be requisite legislation. The fact that the Initiative will largely be private sector-led underscores the need to have legislation to back it up.
The report also made it clear that the PPRI needs to be institutionalized and its funding sources need to be sustainable to ensure continuity of the Initiative. That way, the private sector will feel more protected to partner with the government.
It will be recalled at the Inaugural Democracy Day on 12 June 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari said his vision on poverty "... with leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
Akume in his keynote address said: "It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to this epoch-making particularly occasion of the presentation of the Inter-Ministerial Technical Expert Committee Report on Strategies towards fulfilling Mr. President's mandate to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. I call it epoch-making because I believe that the lives of millions of our compatriots will change positively as a result of the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report being submitted today.
"My dear colleagues, directors of collaborating ministries, resource persons, gentlemen of the press, ladies, and gentlemen, it is heartwarming to be gathered here today to receive this report that has been painstakingly put together by the Inter-Ministerial Expert Technical Committee as a roadmap for the design, institutionalization, and implementation of the Presidential Poverty Reduction Initiative (PPRI).
"Let me, once again, thank the members of the Committee for carrying out this great task within a reasonable period of time. I want to assure you that the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, in collaboration with Ministries, relevant agencies, and stakeholders, will work assiduously towards the implementation of the report for the benefits of all Nigerians.
"On behalf of myself and my colleagues, I won't use this opportunity to assure everyone here present that we will not rest on our oars in the implementation of this Report."
However, the Minister acknowledged that poverty is essentially related to lack or deprivation of factors which are necessary for an acceptable quality of life.
"A recent survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that 40.1 percent of the total population of Nigeria has been classified as poor. This means that 4 out of 10 individuals in Nigeria have real per capital expenditure below 137.430 Naira per day. This translates to over 82.9 Million Nigerians who are considered poor by national standards",
"As we are all aware, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on the world economy, including Nigeria which has worsened the already precarious unemployment situation. It is, therefore, in recognition of this position and the Ministry's mandate to coordinate multi-agency and inter-ministry functions as designated by Mr. President, actively collaborate with the private sector to create employment for a large number of Nigerian youths that this committee was set up.
The Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu, advised that the decision to achieve the President's vision should be taken seriously because if he says something he (Buhari) takes it seriously.
Adamu also added that there should be desk offices and units in the intervening ministries, and the President's pledge should not be taken granted.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, appealed that women should be in the centre stage of this mission to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years because they are the worst hit by poverty in the country.