The vice President of Nigeria took to his social media page (Facebook) to intimate and inform Nigerians his itinerary and official assignment to New York and how he has been able to engage and open up conversation on the current realities of situation in the country. Having been outside the country for a while, the Nigerians in New York asked the Vice President a couple of questions which he answered and also used the opportunity to explain the policy thrust of the government as it regards to economy and security.
He said , “Nigeria has never systematically addressed the poverty problem in the way that India, which used to have the largest population of poor people, have done. As at 2010, Nigeria had a population of about 112.7 million people living in extreme poverty and there was nothing in place to address the problem, no social investment programme, no social security, no way of systematically getting people out of poverty.”
He also added that “President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration launched the Social Investment Programmes to systematically address poverty through the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) where we give interest-free loans to petty traders, conditional cash transfer and N-Power.”
On Health Sector :
“On health care funding, the Federal Government is committed to addressing the challenge of inadequate funding through an innovative approach that takes care of the poor in the society”, he opined.
First, we followed the provision of the Health Act which says that 1% of our Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) must go to health care and we implemented this. We set aside 1 % of the CRF for health. The challenge however is we cannot deal with health care from government budget alone. This is the reason why the National Health Insurance is very important for us. An amendment has been effected to make contributory health insurance compulsory.
“For us, one of the problems to address is the large numbers of poor people in determining what that premium will be, we decided that government will pay 35% of the premium so that those who cannot afford to pay are taken care of by government”, he noted .
The capacity and skill set is what that drive the economy and the Vice President used the forum to explain what the administration has done in this regard.
His words “On leveraging human capital in the Diaspora to complement development efforts in Nigeria, the establishment of the Diaspora Commission by the Buhari administration was one of the ways to show government’s commitment to work with Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora. We believe very strongly that the Diaspora is an important partner in all the things that we are doing.”
ANTHONY EMEKA NWOSU