The primary objective of forming the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014 was to fight poverty among the larger Nigerian population, especially the most vulnerable and the poor.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo stated this at the weekend at the fifth edition of the Airtel Touching Lives in Lagos.
He said the writers of the party’s manifesto, including himself, decided that APC’s workbook must include a social safety initiative for Nigerians.
Osinbajo recalled that during its formative stage, the APC realised the need for government to support the poor, the weak, the vulnerable and those who cannot work.
The Vice-President said this informed the party’s decision of creating a system that fights poverty, among other things.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja by the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, the Vice-President noted that “listening to each story of a life touched this evening must remind us of the many others who need our help, our comfort and our kindness. The poor and vulnerable always need a voice”.
He added: “In 2014, Mr Wale Edun, Prof. Pat Utomi and I met at Pat’s home to write portions of the manifesto of the APC.
“We all agreed that a fundamental pillar of our party’s plans must be to create a social safety net for the people. We were convinced that government owed a duty to the poor, the weak, the vulnerable and those who cannot work.”
The professor of law explained that “social safety nets are not merely acts of sovereign kindness; they are a sovereign obligation, a responsibility”.
In reference to the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) of the Federal Government, Osinbajo said the effort of Airtel was commendable, especially in complementing the work already done by the current administration in tackling poverty.
He said: “Today, the social safety net scheme is the fore of our Social Investment Programmes where we are feeding about 9.5 million children in public schools in 34 states across Nigeria. We are giving monthly cash to nearly a million households as part of our conditional cash transfer scheme. We have given, as at the last count, 2.2 million loans to petty traders whose inventories are no more than N5,000.
“We have also engaged about 500,000 young men and women, who have been unemployed (over different periods of time) under our N-Power programme. But we are still very far from touching majority of those who need help.
“It is clear that to do so we need far more resources behind that programme. This is why the work of social conscious companies, like Airtel, is so vital, bridging the huge gap between what government can do and what is left to be done.”
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