- Says N500bn earmarked for social intervention will make a difference
By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has set aside N1.6 billion for the empowerment of women.
He announced this during his broadcast to the nation to mark his one year in office.
The president said: “I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the increasing role that our women are playing in revitalising the agricultural sector.
“Modern farming is still hard and heavy work and I salute our Nigerian women for sharing this burden.
“In this respect I am very pleased to announce that the government will shortly be launching the national women’s empowerment fund, which I have approved to provide N1.6 billion in micro-finance loans to women across the nation to assist in rehabilitating the economies of rural communities, particularly those impacted by the insurgency and conflict.”
Buhari expressed regret that for too long, Nigeria had been a society that neglected the poor and victimised the weak.
He said : “A society that promotes profit and growth over development and freedom. “A society that fails to recognise that, to quote the distinguished economist Amartya Sen ‘poverty is not just lack of money. It is not having the capability to realize one’s full potential as a human being.”
He announced the launching of what he described as ‘by far the most ambitious social protection programme in our history.’
The programme, Buhari said, sought to start the process of lifting many from poverty, while at the same time creating the opportunity for people to fend for themselves.
He said: “In this regard, Five Hundred Billion Naira has been appropriated in the 2016 budget for social intervention programmes in five key areas.
“We are committed to providing job creation opportunities for five hundred thousand teachers and one hundred thousand artisans across the nation. 5.5 million children are to be provided with nutritious meals through our school feeding programme to improve learning outcomes, as well as enrolment and completion rates.
“The conditional cash transfer scheme will provide financial support for up to one million vulnerable beneficiaries, and complement the enterprise programme – which will target up to one million market women; four hundred and sixty thousand artisans; and two hundred thousand agricultural workers, nationwide.
“Finally, through the education grant scheme, we will encourage students studying sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics, and lay a foundation for human capital development for the next generation.”
With respect to solid minerals, the president said the Minister for Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had produced a roadmap.
He said government would work closely with the world bank and major international investors to ensure through best practices and due diligence that only the right partners were selected.
“Illegal mining remains a problem and we have set up a special security team to protect our assets. Special measures will be in place to protect miners in their work environment,” the president added.