17 July 2016
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has reiterated the need for African nations to quickly address the problems of poverty and inequality.
He made the call at a breakfast meeting hosted by Ghanaian President John Mahama in Kigali, Rwanda.
The event came on the sideline of a three-day African Union meeting on “Africa and Sustainable Development Goals”.
Osinbajo is heading the Nigerian delegation to the meeting as representative of President Muhammadu Buhari
His spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande, said in a statement that the breakfast meeting was attended by a number of presidents and several heads of delegations.
The vice-president explained that the whole idea of the SDGs “is really about addressing inequality and poverty.
“The problems are so obvious that however we describe the programme, we really must do something and urgently.”
Osinbajo cited the N500 billion social investment programme of the Muhammadu Buhari presidency, saying: “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 dollars as at the time the 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 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,’’ he said.
Osinbajo also told those at the breakfast meet that the Federal Government was also establishing a micro-credit programme for one million market women and artisans.
According to him, all the beneficiaries will be given training facilities to enable them to become self-reliant.
He explained that about N5, 000 would be given to the poorest of the women every month to enable them to feed themselves and find something that they could do.
He noted, however, that the token was on the condition that the women would send their children to school and participate in immunisation of their children.
“So we are really excited about some of the works we are trying to do around the SDGs and we are hopeful that we’ll be able to get the social protection programme working,’’ he stated.
The main AU summit holds on Sunday when African leaders at the level of presidents, vice-presidents and prime ministers are expected.
In the Nigerian delegation are the Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Amb. Babagana Kingibe.