Buhari’s focus is service, not 2019 politics – Presidenc
*Says NSIP can’t cater for 80m poor Nigerians
The Presidency said on Sunday that President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo are focused on improving the lives of Nigerians and not the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
This was disclosed by the Special Adviser to the President on National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) Mrs. Maryam Uwais and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Social Investment Programme Mr. Ismaeel Ahmed at a press briefing at the weekend.
“The President and Vice President are more committed to the electorate rather than elections and are concerned about the future rather than just next one year. So, this is entirely about the country itself and not just for political reasons. But, if you’re talking about what we can leverage on, there are a lot of successes in SIP. We’re engaging 73,000 cooks that are growing rural economy. They’re buying from local farmers.
“Therefore, this is growing the rural economy. They’re feeding some sevepoint something million children and we’ve reduced the number of out-of-school children in the last one or two years we’ve been implementing the school feeding programme and engaging 200,000 young unemployed graduates that are receiving N30,000 a month.
“Those are successes in itself. So, if we’re looking for things to leverage on, stomp our chests and storm the political campaigns and say we should be voted again, we have a lot of success stories to tell, but that is not the entirety and essence of this programme. The essence of this programme is to reduce poverty and to distribute wealth as much as we can. The president and the vice president care less about the elections like I said, they care more about the citizens,” the presidential aides said.
Specially, Mr. Ahmed said if the President and the Vice President had to campaign for a reelection, they had a lot of success stories to tell.
Asked what the administration would leverage on as one of the biggest successes of the NSIP for 2019 election campaigns, he said: “I think even though this is a political promise, it came from a manifesto of a political party. The implementation is far from being just political, the implementation is for all Nigerians. When we set out and were campaigning in 2015, we didn’t say what we’re going to do is going to be solely for political reasons.”
Also, Mrs Uwais said estimated number of poor people in the country stands at 80 million with nearly 500,000 of the extremely poor among them now captured in the National Social Register.
She said the estimate is from World Poverty Clock, adding that 297,973 poor households in 20 states are now being paid stipends under the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (NCTP).
He said even though credible targeting has been a major concern, NSIP has started to develop a Social Register in all the states that have met the criteria provided in the MoU signed with the NSIP Office.
She said: “It is important for us to get the targeting right so only the poorest of the poor will get paid. We have, according to statistics, up to 80 million people that are poor. And so, we had to device a strategy to ensure that we get the poorest and also insulate the process of getting to that poorest from any outside influence, whatever the influence maybe.
“So what we do is sign an MOU with the states. We have roles and responsibility for each side though we know is not enforceable but we want both sides to know what their responsibilities are.
“We select 30 percent because we had cash constrains. We couldn’t cover 80 million people that were poor. We now said we will start with 30 percent from each state. That comes to 30 percent of the poorest of the poor from each senatorial district.
“Working with NBS, we looked at local government that are the poorest in the senatorial districts for a balance and we shared the names of the local government with the states. They signed off.”