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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

A smile for every Nigerian – Yemi Osinbajo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s speech at the commemorative event for the Social Investment Programmes. The social Investment Programme is both a heart and a head programme. Heart because the pains of poverty cannot be ignored.


The President during the campaigns while we were touring the country, kept saying that we must do everything to get our people out of poverty. The programme is also a head or logical common sense issue.

A country’s economic development is a function of the number living above poverty level, our levels of poverty are so alarming that clearly some fundamental interventions by government are necessary.

Often our economic development plans and budgets assume a trickle down approach, namely; that if we put resources in promoting industry and commerce, jobs would eventually be created and the poorest will be reached. The other premise is that GDP growth should translate to jobs. But both premises are flawed.

First the trickle down model has proved far too slow to stem the tide of poverty in one of the fastest growing populations in the world.

Secondly, most of the growth was on account of the oil sector which is capital intensive but not labour intensive.

So, while we were recording growth levels of 7% because of the high oil prices, unemployment figures grew.

In developing the APC manifesto and later our economic development plans, we knew that government had to directly intervene with a massive social investment programme that would tackle poverty and exclusion across the various spectra.

We have heard a lot about the programmes already but I would like to emphasize some of what I am particularly proud of.

First is that we have shown that a massive programme can be initiated and managed on-line. The NPower programme is the largest post tertiary jobs programme in Africa. We now know that we can train large numbers electronically.

Secondly, we have demonstrated that a transparent process of employment is possible. All of these young men and women have testified that they knew nobody, paid nobody to get the jobs they now have.

Thirdly, we have achieved great success in our financial inclusion efforts by bringing in many especially the extremely poor in the hinterlands into the formal banking system.

Beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer programme, Home Grown School Feeding, vendors and cooks, now have BVNs and bank accounts.

We have also demonstrated that electronic payment on such a huge scale across the nation is possible.

Most importantly, we have ensured that our programmes are in all States not just APC States, so much so that some of the Governors in non APC States even take credit for these Federal Government programmes.

We know that our children in public schools, many from poor homes, do not really care about whether the food is from one political party or the other. In most of the testimonies you have heard today, it is clear that our programmes have just simply gone.

There is also an aspect of this SIP that has not been mentioned. This is N100 billion set aside for the FAMILY HOME FUND of our Social Housing Project. The N100 billion is a yearly contribution to our N1 trillion Social Housing Fund, the largest in the history of the country.

The World Bank and AFDB are contributors to the fund.

From this fund, developers will borrow 80% of cost of project and counter fund with their own 20%. The same fund will enable us to provide inexpensive mortgages for hundreds of thousands across the country where workers earning from N30, 000 can afford a home they can call their own. Already the project has started in 11 States.

We expect that this Family Housing Fund will jumpstart and expand construction exponentially across the country.

The SIP is clearly one of the largest social intervention efforts anywhere in the world. It is complicated and diverse in its scale and scope. We are proud of the men and women led by the Special Adviser on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais and the programme is supervised by a very dedicated interministerial team.

In the next phase of this programme, we will proceed on a surer footing. We will be reopening the portals for NPower on the 13 of June, we are ramping up on the CCT, GEEP, and the Home Grown School Feeding.

Our targets are clear, soon enough we will put smiles on the faces of millions more.



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