By Lawrence Olaoye
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is focused with a view to taking them out of poverty through its social investment programmes.
Osinbajo said this during a townhall meeting on Tuesday in Bariga/Somolu LCDA in Lagos State to felicitate with Lagosians on the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.
According to a statement made available to newsmen yesterday, the Vice President, who addressed a gathering comprising APC chieftains in Lagos state, youth groups, government officials and the LCDA Chairmen of Somolu and Bariga, noted that the administration’s National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIP) were geared towards improving the welfare of ordinary Nigerians.
“The President focus has always been on the common man. So, when we came, we decided on a few things to tackle youth unemployment. First, the N-Power programme to engage as many young people who are graduates as possible. We started with 200,000, and just this month, we have employed another 300,000. So, in our N-Power programme, we have 500,000 young graduates who are employed in the programme. Now every local government in Nigeria has N-Power graduate.”
He further stated that the Buhari administration has been able to embark on the completion of more infrastructure projects and achieve more with less funds because of President’s Buhari’s honesty and the seriousness of the administration to improve the country’s fortunes.
He said, “In the past four years of the previous administration, over US$393 billion was earned in oil proceeds alone. In the past three years, we have earned US$94 billion, look at the difference. And the reasons are very straightforward. The price of oil was about half of what it used to be. But with the same $94 billion, we have been able to do far more.
“When we got into office, 24 states had not paid salaries for over six months and we ensured that these salaries were paid. And President Buhari said then, “Look, I have been a salary earner all my life, I have never done any business; the only thing I ever done is government work, either as a soldier or in government. I cannot imagine how anybody can go to sleep as a governor without paying the salaries of his workers.” So, we made sure that we paid salaries and we have done so many other things.“In investments, look at the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; for almost 12 years, with all that money, it was never done. Now we have set about and we are doing it, we will complete it. Also, the Lagos-Kano railway project, so many of us know that we are moving towards Ibadan now. And we are going to complete it.
The Vice President added that the Buhari administration will continue to support petty traders and small businesses to ensure that more Nigerians are taken out of poverty.
He said, “The other thing we have done is GEEP (Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme), a micro-credit scheme for market women and others. We are doing one now for petty traders that is called TraderMoni. We have done it in Lagos we are going to do at least 100,000 in Lagos and 2 million across the country. The traders here in Bariga must benefit from it. We also have the one for people far bigger than that which is called GEEP.
“I want to emphasize that everything we are doing, our focus, first of all, is to ensure that people are taken out of poverty. Our country is a very big; over 200 million people, many young people coming out everyday. Aside from that, we also want to ensure that anybody who is doing anything at all, who is trading, artisans, mechanics; we are able to support them.
The reason is that when you look at the way government operates in the past; when you look at the government budget, it focuses on the middle-class, those who have industries and manufacturing plants, and those kinds of people. But the majority are at a very low level, doing little things. Those are the people that we must first of all (focus on), so that the poorest are able to do better. If the poorest do better, it would be better for all of us.”