Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration is now awake and will pursue a poverty reduction strategy that will usher in a “rapid, sustained, sustainable and inclusive economic growth”.
The President stated this on Tuesday at a meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC). According to Buhari, his administration’s ambitious policy of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty did not come by accident or “something we just bumped into,” but a deliberate one that will be pursued with remarkable grit and determination.
Also in attendance at the meeting that occurred at the State House in Abuja, the Nigerian capital was Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
A statement from President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu noted that Buhari agreed with the council that Nigeria required a poverty reduction strategy that will usher in a “rapid, sustained, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
In a short speech after the presentation of the report on the national poverty reduction strategy, developed by the PEAC, President Buhari requested the PEAC to present the document to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday (today) as part of the consultation process. He also agreed with the council that this ambitious programme of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty is a challenging one, but one that can be achieved.
The president wondered what became of the nation in the past, “with all the resources available to it” that no such coordinated, holistic agenda on poverty reduction was ever contemplated.
“I was shocked, hearing from you that, of the vast agricultural land resources available to the nation, only two per cent of it is under irrigation, promising that “we will make the best use of the land. Thank you for shaking us up. We are now awake, we will not doze off again. We didn’t just bump into this, we believe it is something we can deliver on,” Shehu quoted the president in the statement.
“The poverty reduction strategy, as presented, requires the nation to aim to raise agricultural productivity; to address the wide disparity among states and the regions in the distribution of poverty; to ensure macro-economic stability, and to take advantage of the different economic endowments of the country in the promotion of industrialisation. The strategy benefited from extensive consultations among all stakeholders in both the Public and Private sectors to achieve “ownership and sustainability”.
In defining the principles of the new strategy, the PEAC said the approach will be multi-dimensional. “Poverty is not only a lack of cash. It is defined by lack of access to shelter, health, education and jobs which must all be addressed.”
While nothing that there had in the past been varied attempts to eradicate poverty in the country, the council submitted that this was the first time that “we are consolidating on the achievements of the past and avoiding past mistakes; it is the first time that everyone is coming on board – Federal Government, States, the Private Sector, Development Partners and the Civil Society. Poverty reduction must not be left to the Federal Government alone, it is everybody’s responsibility.”
By Abel Ejikeme