We are fighting poverty step-by-step – FG

The Federal Government has said it is fighting poverty step-by-step and ameliorating the plight of the poor and vulnerable people across the country.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, made this known at a three-day  Social Protection Cross Learning Summit with the themed: “Improving the Lives of Poor and Vulnerable Nigerians: Lessons from Implementing Social Protection in Nigeria” in Abuja.

He said the FG is fighting poverty not just by giving people fish to eat but by teaching them how to catch fish so that they can use that to solve their problems.

“We have review programmes of social interaction put up by the government and the testimonies are there on how it is improving the lives of the poor and vulnerable in the society.

“This summit is a follow up on the first that was done in 2016 and through it, Nigeria has been able to develop her National Social Protection Policy which would be launched in the course of this three-day summit.

“It has 16 measures aimed at promoting and enhancing the dignity and protection of the poor and vulnerable people in the country,” the minister said.

The Special Adviser to the President on Social Protection Plan, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, in her opening remark said the summit was to further discuss on how to address the challenges of the poor and vulnerable in the society adding that they have confidence that they have concerted effort in eradicating poverty in the land.

“We are mandated to coordinate the social protection issues and the aim is to digest strategies to curb issues relating to the vulnerable in our country,” she said.

She stated that there are concerns  about poverty in this country, adding that “they aroused from past years  and unfortunately until this administration came on board when there was no focus on the lives of the poor and the vulnerable.

“But  for the first time, money has been budgeted for poverty reduction every year since 2016 and  that is what has been utilised to see how we can reach these people.”

Mrs. Uwais added that “for the social protection, they  are working hard to align what they are doing with stakeholders because they have quite a number of development partners that are supporting them not just in giving money or grant but they have been able to train people in all the local governments, to support this initiative.

“We are building capacity at local levels and it has to be a concerted effort on seeing how we can survive it.

“It is more than just giving, it’s support, training, mentoring and coaching. The development partners have supported lots of interventions across the world and we are hoping that it would help us too.”

She added that a lot of people don’t believe they are working because lots of what they are doing are in the rural areas and it’s not visible in the cities.

“But what we are doing is very impactful if you listen to the stories of the beneficiaries, it’s shaping the identity of these people.

“It helps to know the type of challenges facing this people and not just infrastructure alone even though infrastructure is good.

“Right now, we have data with the social registry of 26 states we are currently working with but we are also collating data in other states which needs to be collected at community levels because it is the communities that identify who the poor are. Once we get the data, we generate it and clean it up in Abuja.

“The remaining states would be part of our social register by the end of March, 2019,” she noted.

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