Social investment is a right, not a favour- Acting-President Osinbajo

Timothy Choji, Abuja

Acting Pesident, Professor Yemi Osinbajo at the event that showcasing the achievements of the National Social Investment Programme,

Nigeria’s Acting Pesident, Professor Yemi Osinbajo says whatever the government is doing for its citizens to alleviate poverty is not a favour because all Nigerians deserve such assistance.

Speaking at an event that showcased the achievement of the National Social Investment Programme, Professor Osinbajo said the Nigerian government was determined to actualize all the promises it made to Nigerians.

The event, which took place at the Banquet hall of the Presidential Villa was in commemoration of the second anniversary of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

The Acting President said President Buhari was very concerned about the plight of Nigerians and is doing everything possible to make life better for them.

Our administration outlined three specific areas for our immediate intervention on assumption of office: these were Security, Corruption and the Economy. In the Northeast of our country, the terrorist group Boko Haram openly challenged the sovereignty and continued existence of the state, killing, maiming and abducting, causing the displacement of the largest number of our citizens in recent history.Beyond the North-East they extended their mindless killings, as far away as Abuja, Kano and Kaduna.

But with new leadership and renewed confidence our gallant military immediately began to put boko haram on the back foot. We have restored broken-down relations with our neighbours, Chad, Cameroon and Niger – allies without whom the war against terror would have been extremely difficult to win. We have re-organized and equipped our Armed Forces, and inspired them to heroic feats; we have also revitalized the regional Multinational Joint Task Force, by providing the required funding and leadership,he said.

He said government’s achievements in the past two years were there for everyone to see.

“The positive results are clear for all to see; in the last two years, close to one million displaced persons have returned homes. 106 of our daughters from Chibok have regained their freedom, after more than two years in captivity, in addition to the thousands of other captives who have since tasted freedom.  Schools, hospitals and businesses are springing back to life across the Northeast, especially in Borno State, the epicenter of the crisis.

Farmers are returning to the farms from which they fled in the wake of boko haram. Finally, our people are getting a chance to begin the urgent task of rebuilding their lives. Across the country, in the Niger Delta, and in parts of the North Central region, we are engaging with local communities, to understand their grievances, and to create solutions that respond to these grievances adequately and enduringly.

President Buhari’s New Vision for the Niger Delta is a comprehensive peace, security and development plan that will ensure that the people benefit fully from the wealth of the region, and we have seen to it that it is the product of deep and extensive consultations, and that it has now moved from idea to execution, included in that new vision is the long-overdue environmental clean-up of the Niger Delta beginning with Ogoni-land, which we launched last year. In the fight against corruption, we have focused on bringing persons accused of corruption to justice,” the Acting President stated.

Professor Osinbajo noted that the youth have a special place in the life of the Buhari administration because they are the future of the country.

“Let me note, at this point, that several of our Initiatives are targeted at our young people, who make up most of our population. From N-Power, to the Technology Hubs being developed nationwide, to innovation competitions such as the Aso Villa Demo Day, and our various MSME support schemes, we will do everything to nurture the immense innovative and entrepreneurial potential of our young people. We are a nation of young people, and we will ensure that our policies and programmes reflect this. One of the highlights of our Power Sector Recovery Programme, which we launched in March, is a N701 billion Naira Payment Assurance Scheme that will resolve the financing bottlenecks that have until now constrained the operations of our gas suppliers and generation companies. Let me assure that you will soon begin to see the positive impact of these steps,” he said.

Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said the Social Investment Programme was meant to lead Nigerians out of poverty.

She said the programme would be institutionalized, to enable more Nigerians benefit it now and in the future. Mrs Ahmed expressed optimism that the programme would succeed because it was designed to do so.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the current administration had achieved a lot despite the battered economy.

“Our government is a promise keeping government. We have achieved a lot despite the lean revenue,” he said.

The Information Minister noted that the country’s foreign reserves, excess crude account and sovereign wealth have all increased under the leadership of President Buhari.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments Mrs Maryam Uwais said the programme was a tool for taking Nigerians out of poverty.

The Special Adviser said all Nigerians deserve a better condition of living thus the efforts being put in place by government to enable the programme succeed.

More Focus

National Chairman of the governing party, the All Progressives Congress, Mr John Odigie Oyegun said the APC has contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria, as he pledged that the government will be more focused on the Social Investment Programmes.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has kept his major promises to Nigerians. The country is now better compared to two years ago, we are aware that the people are hungry and we will continue to do our best for this nation. The government is determined to continue to put smiles on the faces of our people,” he said.

On his part, Senate Minority Leader, Mr Gods will Akpabio, who expressed delight at the invitation of the minority to be part of the programme, pledged the support of the Senate for the Social Investment Programme.

Having endorsed the programme, Senator Akpabio commended the Nigerian government for the laudable initiative of introducing the Social Investment Programme.

Some of the beneficiaries of the Social Investment Programme who spoke at the event, thanked government for making their lives better as they testified that they needed no connection from anyone before they were enrolled into the scheme.

The well attended event had members of the federal cabinet and the diplomatic corps as part of the audience.

The Social Investment Programme, which kicked off at the end of 2016, has the Home Grown School Feeding programme, the N-Power and the Conditional Cash Transfer among others as its components.

Its main aim is to alleviate poverty among Nigerians especially the less privileged and beneficiaries are already telling the stories of how these initiatives have given them a fresh start in their lives.