110 million Nigerians are poor, says Osinbajo

ViCE-President Yemi Osinbajo has admonished African nations to rise up to the urgent need of addressing the problems of poverty and inequality, even as the global community focuses on its new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs.)

He also disclosed that Nigeria had close to 110 million people who are poor and about two-tenths are in extreme poverty.

Speaking at the ongoing African Union (AU) summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on Saturday, he told the breakfast event attended by a number of presidents and several heads of delegations to the AU meeting that the whole idea of the SDGs “is really about addressing inequality and poverty.”

The event was hosted by the President of Ghana, Mr. John Mahama, on Africa and SDGs.

According to a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on media and publicity, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo, who led the delegation to the continent-wide meeting, observed that “the problems are so obvious that however we described the programme, we really must do something and something urgently.”

He then cited the example of the N500 billion social investment programme of the Buhari presidency.

The Vice President said: “In Nigeria, in the current budget cycle, we have the largest social protection programme in the history of the country.  It’s a N500 billion programme (worth over $2.5 billion as of 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 110 million people who are poor and about two-tenths 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.”

Osinbajo said with what the administration has done already, “we have seen that they are certainly going to work.”

On the Conditional Cash Transfer, he noted that women were beneficiaries, as “we are giving another million, to the poorest of the poor.”