•Says ignoring poverty may amount to sitting on keg of gunpowder
•Tinubu launches cash transfer relief aid for 15 million households
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, has warned against ignoring poverty alleviation in the country, saying doing so would amount to sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
Delivering a welcome address at the launch of the Renewed Hope Conditional Cash Transfer initiative of President Bola Tinubu at the State House, Abuja, yesterday, the Minister declared, “as a nation, we must come together to fight poverty. Poverty is that scourge, poverty is that hydra headed cobra in the room that if not tackled, would consume everyone.
“Sitting and ignoring poverty at any level, will only seem or equate to sitting on a keg of gunpowder and that’s why today, the president is taking it headlong.”
Edu observed that the N75,000 already announced by the President for disbursement to vulnerable households in the country is enough to successfully run small scale businesses.
According to her: “Beyond this, the government will be providing low-cost shelter for the poor and internally displaced persons as a form of providing that cover for them.
“Several other interventions, including the rural vocational skills Intervention will be carried out at mass scale. All of these are targeted at the various dimensions of poverty in the country.
“We want to encourage Nigerians, we want to encourage the private sector, we want to encourage our development partners that are here, it’s time to step up to the occasion.
“We have a clear-cut roadmap, an action plan for implementation of the eradication of poverty from Nigeria. Everyone must key in and be part of it,” she said.
Edu, assured that Tinubu would eradicate poverty in the country by the year 2030.
Tinubu, later launched the Renewed Hope Conditional Cash Transfer initiative, targeting more than 61 million vulnerable Nigerians for post-fuel subsidy removal relief.
The launching ceremony of the programme coincided with this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
The Renewed Hope Conditional Cash Transfer initiative, which would give monthly N25,000 cash support to 15 million households nationwide was expected to gulp nothing less than N1.125 trillion.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony of the initiative, Tinubu, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, described the launch as a statement of his administration’s commitment to poverty alleviation.
According to the President, the theme of this year’s commemoration: “Decent Work and Social Protection: Putting dignity in practice for all,” was no doubt in perfect alignment with the Renewed Hope Agenda.
He said: “Today is a significant day for us in Nigeria and for my administration for it brings with it an opportunity for me to restate my administration’s commitment to poverty alleviation as expressed in my 8 point Agenda.
“My government will lead from the front in seeking to ensure that all Nigerians have opportunities decent for dignified work and
sustained social protection.
“It is only via a sustained collaborative approach that we can win this war against poverty in Nigeria and the world at large. Hope is here. I ask the Nigerian people to please ensure that they key into all the available programmes because they are here to help.
“Our objective is to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty. Yet, this will only be possible with the cooperation of the people we seek to help. Let us continue to work together to achieve our collective goal of eradicating poverty in Nigeria”, he said.
Also speaking, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, said the 63 per cent statistics of Nigerians living in poverty, representing 84 million of the population, is unacceptable to President Tinubu.
His words: “Clearly to Mr. President, it is totally unacceptable as it is to the rest of us. And that is why it is perhaps his number one priority, tackling poverty and he has a program to stabilise the economy and grow the economy in general.
Edun added that the cash transfer program would help reduce poverty in a significant way.
On his part, World Bank country representative, Shubham Chaudhuri, confirmed that cash transfers are a method widely acknowledged and universally accepted.
Chaudhuri, stressed that the method had proven to be one of the most effective ways to provide assistance to citizens, particularly the impoverished and vulnerable who have been impacted by economic shocks or rising living costs.
“This aid is crucial in helping them overcome the initial period during which they might otherwise be compelled to make decisions with long-term consequences. For instance, these decisions might include reducing daily meals to just one or withdrawing their children from school.
“The type of cash transfer referred to as ‘shock-responsive cash transfer’ that is currently being implemented is utilised by countries worldwide to offer temporary relief in such situations”, he said.
The Beneficiaries present at the flag off were Larai Suleiman, Shuaibu Hassana, Sariki Bala Gamu,Okor Jonah and Hameed Kosemani Isiaka.