BY EMEKA EJERE

Despite the current status of Nigeria as the world’s poverty capital,  President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday claimed that his administration has lifted 10.5 million people out of poverty in the past two years.

This was part of his Democracy Day address to Nigerians.

Nigeria has one of the highest number of extremely poor people, according to the World Bank.

But the President had in 2019 promised to work towards lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

“I will be the first to admit that in spite of our efforts and achievements which are there for all to see, there is still much more to be done and we are doing our best in the face of scarce resources and galloping population growth rate that consistently outstrips our capacity to provide jobs for our populace,” Buhari said.

“Our over-all economic target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years is our goal notwithstanding COVID-19.

“In the last two years we lifted 10.5 million people out of poverty – farmers, small-scale traders, artisans, market women and the like.

“I am very convinced that this 100 million target can be met and this informed the development of a National poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy. The specific details of this accelerated strategy will be unveiled shortly.

“In the last one year, Nigeria and the whole world faced COVID-19 for which no one was fully prepared.

According to Buhari, the National Social Investment programme of his administration is “a first in Africa and one of the largest in the world where over 32.6m beneficiaries are taking part.

“We now have a National Social register of poor and vulnerable households, identified across 708 local government areas, 8,723 wards and 86,610 communities in the 36 States and the FCT.

“Our conditional cash transfer program has benefited over 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households comprising more than 8 million individuals. This provides a monthly stipend of N10,000 per household.

“I have also recently approved the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy Plan that augments existing plans to further reduce poverty in Nigeria.

“As at the end of 2020, the Development Bank of Nigeria had disbursed 324 billion Naira in loans to more than 136,000 MSMEs, through 40 participating Financial Institutions. I am to note that 57% of these beneficiaries are women while 27% are the youth.”