How Osinbajo-led steering committee is reducing, bailing Nigerians out of poverty

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, addressing the audience at the closing of the two-day Presidential Health Reform Committee Retreat, at NIA HQ, Abuja, on Tuesday, November 29, 2022. Photo: Statehouse/Tolani Alli

By Seyi Gesinde

• VP determined to achieve set goals

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is determined to make real the Federal Government’s plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. After a series of work done since 2021 that the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari, the VP has gone ahead to inaugurate the Steering Committee of the National Development Plan (2021 – 2025).

Part of the work of the new body is to lay a solid foundation for a strong base that will drive an effective implementation and produce a prosperous country.

The VP said, the overall aim of establishing the National Steering Committee (NSC) and the Development Plan Implementation Unit (DPIU) is to lay the foundation for a strong institutional base, structures and systems that would drive and ensure efficient and effective implementation of the targets in the National Development Plan 2021 – 2025, towards building a prosperous country.

Recalled President Muhammadu Buhari launched the National Development Plan on December 22, 2021.

Speaking Tuesday at the inauguration of the 25-man committee at the State House, Abuja, the Vice President said the Steering Committee is required to provide the necessary policy guidance and leadership for effective and successful implementation of the plan.

“It is a testament to the determination and commitment of the government to provide the desired political will and leadership for effective implementation of the new national development plan,” he said, adding that the committee is a national assignment with institutional membership and outlives an administration.

“Indeed, this particular National Steering Committee will, in a few months, hand over to a new administration. This calls for dedication and hard work to lay a solid foundation in the relatively short time left,” the VP said.

Osinbajo pointed out that “going forward, the federal government is determined to make a paradigm shift by ensuring that agencies and institutions make necessary commitments and account for the level of implementation of programmes and projects within their respective sectors, especially those that were admitted into the National Development Plan, to increase and improve infrastructure stock in Nigeria.

“We may also recall that a pillar of this government’s commitments is to reduce poverty by moving 100 million people out of poverty to the path of prosperity in 10 years, by the end of 2030. In this regard, NDP 2021 – 2025 was designed to lift 35 million people out of poverty and generate 21 million jobs by the end of 2025.”

The Vice President listed the specific objectives of the committee of which he is the chairman to include:

• To ensure efficient management of the implementation process of the Plan; to reduce bureaucratic processes in the governance process; to gradually professionalise planning functions for capacity sustainability; to begin the process of institutionalisation of the Plan implementation within the ministry and other MDAs; to facilitate manpower development and adequate utilisation in the public service to drive the implementation of the Plan; to exercise cooperation and coordination towards effective implementation of national development plans by all MDAs.

Membership of the committee is composed of the vice-president as chairman; Minister of State, Budget and National Planning as vice-chairman; Permanent Secretary, Budget and National Planning to serve as secretary; six state governors (one governor from each geopolitical zone); CEO of the Budget Office of the Federation.

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CEO of the National Bureau of Statistics; Minister of Works & Housing; Minister of Power; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment; Minister of Transport and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Other members are the Minister of Environment; Minister of Health; Governor of CBN; GMD of NNPC; representative of the Organised Private Sector (OPS); representative of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs); Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and representative of Development Partners.

These are Nigerians committed to setting a standard for the social welfare of Nigerians to lift the out of poverty.

Recalled the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) with Vice President Osinbajo as its chairman when it held its inaugural meeting at the Presidential Villa, set up modalities to achieve its set goal.

This was after President Buhari, had on on June 22, 2021, inaugurated the committee tasked with driving the target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande in a statement, had said the Vice President expressed optimism that the committee would achieve rapid progress.

The Vice President said plans to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years would not be based on a business as usual approach, but a very simple, common sense strategy that would deliver results.

“In order not to make this merely another of those high-sounding committees that eventually achieve nothing, we have to be very intentional about our objectives and how to achieve them.

“I really want us to approach this as much as possible, commonsensically, so that we are able to resolve all the issues and focus on the real progress.

“I want us to look beyond all of what we are going to be doing, there is going to be a considerable amount of paper work, but a lot of common sense is what grows economies.

“It is what other countries have done, not really reinventing the wheel. So, I want us to focus on those commonsensical things, so that we can actually move forward.”

He mentioned the example of Bangladesh where a poverty reduction strategy was also implemented, adding that the country’s manufacturing sector was key.

According to him, Bangladesh actually exports more garments than Nigeria exports oil.

“Countries that have managed to get out of poverty have created a lot of jobs through industries, and they have developed intentional strategies.

“We must look at what others have done, the smart things that other people have done, and adopt.

“We really have to think smartly about how we are funding agriculture.

“I think we really need to take a deep dive because governments have made several efforts at poverty alleviation but generally speaking, they have not yielded the sort of results they should yield.

“And I think it is because there is a lot of focus on documentation and paper work and very little commonsense approaches.”

He emphasised that it was a national strategy as opposed to a federal strategy which was why the steering committee was made up of federal as well as state officials.

“Essentially, this effort must also be directed at how to facilitate private sector creation of jobs.

“The fact is that there is no way that the Federal Government or the State Governments can create the number of jobs that we need.

“We need to take a few broad looks at the features of what constitutes our present predicaments in terms of job losses and unemployment,” he said.

The vice president said efforts would be made to focus attention on creating opportunities for Nigerians to earn decent livelihoods in addition to equipping them with the necessary vocational skills.

Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa, who fielded questions from State House correspondents, said the essence of the committee was to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.

He said that having reviewed the Terms of Reference (TOR), the Steering Committee constituted the technical working group and the National Social Protection Network and would resume its meeting after the Sallah break.

Other members of the NSC in attendance included Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who is also Nigeria Governors Forum Chairman and Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, Ministers of Agriculture, Muhammad Nanono, Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, and Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige also attended the meeting.