As the National Assembly begins debating the 2016 Budget submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari, there are specific provisions in the proposals that will confront poverty in the country in a bold and direct way according to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
“We are dealing with the issues of poverty with the 2016 Budget that is currently being debated,” the Vice President says noting that in a country where more than 110 million Nigerians are extremely poor, we are bound to have such health challenges as having about 110,000 deaths yearly from Diarrhea.
All together there are 6 social protection programmes of the Buhari administration for which funds have been allocated in the 2016 budget. These are Teach Nigeria, where 500,000 graduates would be hired as teachers, Youth Employment and Empowerment-where between 300,000-500,000 youths would go through skills acquisition and vocational training, the Conditional Cash Transfer, where one million extremely poor Nigerians will receive N5000 monthly this year, Homegrown School Feeding where one meal a day would be served to public primary school children across the country, Free Education for tertiary education 100,000 students of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the Micro-Credit Scheme that will give N60,000 one time soft loans to market women, and artisans.
The Vice President spoke during a courtesy visit by a delegation of Reckitt Benckiser West Africa, a household care products’ company lead by its West Africa Managing Director, Mr. Rahul Murgai and the Chairman in Nigeria, Chief Olu Falomo. The company had earlier discussed with the VP its Safe the Children Initiative, a Corporate Social Responsibility programme designed to curb the deaths of Nigerian children caused by Diarrhea.
While welcoming the initiative, Prof. Osinbajo explained that a lot has to be done in the country to confront poverty and its impacts on Nigerians.
According to him, “when you have the number of extremely poor Nigerians that we have in this country we are bound to have these kinds of health problems, “ adding however that the 2016 Budget proposals will deal with the overall problem of poverty.
He said for the first time in the nation’s history about half a trillion Naira is being provided for the six social investment programmes-(as listed above).
The Vice President commended the company for its intervention saying “this is the sort of thing we expect from those who have the resources.”
Speaking earlier, Mr. Murgai said Reckitt Benckiser which has been doing business in Nigeria for several decades wants to ensure that the people of Nigeria are healthier and happier. He said the company is worried about Diarrhea deaths and has set aside about N1.2 billion to fight the situation in Nigeria.
Also today the Vice President received a delegation from the Twelve-Twelve Polo and Turf Club, Abuja led by Mallam Murtala Aliyu, the Club’s Advisory Board Chairman.
Prof. Osinbajo while appreciating the visit and commending the efforts to set up such a club, urged the members to consider making polo, horse-racing and other equestrian sports open and available to young people who otherwise may not be able to afford playing in such expensive games.
“There would be many who can benefit from this sport, young people in colleges who might become great polo players, but won’t be able to afford it,” the VP noted.