President Muhammadu Buhari has said his government will pursue with grit and determination his administration’s ambitious policy of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. He said the policy did not come by accident, but a deliberate one.
Speaking on Tuesday at a meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC), which was also attended by Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo at the State House in Abuja, President Buhari agreed with the Council that the country required a poverty reduction strategy that will usher in a “rapid, sustained, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
Buhari, in a short speech after the presentation of the report on national poverty reduction strategy, developed by the PEAC, requested the PEAC to present the document to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday as part of the consultation process. He agreed with the council that the 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 percent 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,” he said.
After listening to the PEAC Chairman, Professor Doyin Salami, who led the presentation, President Buhari cleared the way for ministers to be briefed on the implementation plan at the FEC meeting on Wednesday, February 24.
The plan, which Professor Salami said had so far gained an overwhelming approval of stakeholders across the country had earlier been presented to the Vice President; Secretaries to Government of all the 36 States, and the governors at the National Economic Council, development partners, including the World Bank, IMF and AfDB; Civil Society Organisations and the prganised private sector actors in the country.
The PEAC Chairman welcomed the country’s exit from recession but cautioned that the strength of the economic growth must be driven in a way that it will overtake population growth.
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”.