According to a statement on Saturday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, the Vice President said this in a lecture titled“The Challenges of Human Development in 21st Century Africa” which he delivered at the Oxford University, United Kingdom, on Friday.
Osinbajo said human capital development must be a priority of public policy of governments across Africa to effectively tackle poverty and improve long-term development on the continent.
“All over Africa, the political will to better the lot of our restive populations is evident, innovative ideas are also in abundance; if we keep our focus, especially on good governance, the next two decades may truly be the African decades,” he said.
Osinbajo highlighted ongoing efforts of the Nigerian government and the progress it has made in improving the country’s Human Capital Development indices and investment climate, as well as the impact of the National Social Investment Programmes.
He said while non-governmental and philanthropic organisations help to bridge development gaps through various interventions, governments have a major moral duty to ensure human capital development is its major priority as tackling poverty will boost growth and development across different sectors.
“Governments are also best placed to deploy the public policy tools required to bring about synergy between growth objectives and social needs,” he said, while calling on African governments to prioritise investments in its people.
He said the present administration’s N-SIP was among its far-reaching policies in this regard, noting that it will continue to make policies and initiatives to improve human capital development in Nigeria.
The Vice President noted that a major plank of the Federal Government’s approach to empowerment “is to improve financial inclusion.”
“Our Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme is an important tool for financially empowering small businesses, artisans, market women, petty traders, and table top traders,” he said.
Highlighting the nationwide impact of the N-SIPs, the Vice President noted that 349,000 new bank accounts have been opened, while almost half a million small businesses in Nigeria have accessed the loan under the MarketMoni scheme – a short tenor interest-free credit of between N50,000 and N300,000 for small businesses under the auspices of their cooperative societies as a risk management device.
Also, by the end of this year, he said two million petty traders nationwide are expected to benefit from the TraderMoni, which provides them collateral and interest-free N10,000 loans.
Osinbajo said out of the targeted one million, so far, almost 300,000 households have benefited from the N-SIP’s Conditional Cash Transfer scheme, in which the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country are given N5,000 monthly.
He said the administration’s Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme was an important tool for financially empowering small businesses, artisans, market women, petty traders, and table top traders.
The Vice President also noted that the Home-Grown School Feeding programme provides a meal a free balanced meal to over 9.2 million children in public primary schools in 25 states every day, and has helped to tackle malnutrition and improve school enrollment.
He said, “The programme, by using local produce, livestock and poultry supports local agriculture, provides jobs for 95,440 cooks resident in the various communities in which the schools are located.”
Osinbajo further said the N-Power programme, which has provided jobs for 500,000 young Nigerian graduates in the last two years, has a target of skilling 10 million Nigerians by 2023.
He said, “As the proportion of working age group of 15-59 years will continue to increase steadily over the next years, Nigeria has the advantage of “demographic dividend‟. Harnessing the demographic dividend through appropriate skill development efforts provides an opportunity to achieve inclusion and productivity within the country.
“Over the past two years, through the N-Power Programme, the largest post-tertiary employment programme in Africa, we have been able to offer skills development programmes digitally to over 500,000 young citizens between the ages of 18 and 35. We have set a target of skilling 10 million Nigerians by 2023.”