By Chesa Chesa
President Muhammadu Buhari says that despite the challenge posed by Covid-19 pandemic, his administration has been able to lift 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty in the past two years.
He explains that while doling out cash and palliatives during the lockdown occasioned by the unexpected pandemic at its peak in 2020, his government evolved policies that ensured Nigerians continued to sustain their livelihoods.
He made these points in his dawn broadcast to the nation to mark this year’s Democracy Day (June 12) declared in honour of late politician, Moshood Abiola who won the 1993 presidential election on that date but died in military detention without realising his mandate.
According to Buhari: “Our over-all economic target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years is our goal notwithstanding COVID-19.
“In the last two years we lifted 10.5 million people out of poverty – farmers, small-scale traders, artisans, market women and the like.
“I am very convinced that this 100 million target can be met and this informed the development of a National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy. The specific details of this accelerated strategy will be unveiled shortly.
“In the last one year, Nigeria and the whole world faced COVID-19 for which no one was fully prepared. Our response to the pandemic involved making hard choices in balancing livelihoods and public health concerns. You are all living witnesses to how successful this has been due to a number of pro-active measures put in place. Our response to COVID-19 is globally acclaimed.
“We were able to ensure that the various lockdown measures did not impact too negatively on the ability of ordinary Nigerians to continue sustaining their livelihoods.
“During the pandemic, we disbursed N5,000 to 1 million Nigerians using a Rapid Response Register and advanced N20,000 to 750,000 beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Progamme and provided 1.37 million Nigerians with palliatives from CACOVID.”
The President acknowledged that within the same two-year period under him, the country has experienced huge challenges that would have crippled the nation if not for his government’s dexterity and resilience of patriotic citizens.
“In the last two years we have witnessed and overcome a good number of testy challenges that would have destroyed other nations especially relating to our collective security.
“The indefatigable CAN DO Spirit of the Nigerian has sustained us and would keep pushing us to put these challenges behind us.
“Unfortunately some of these challenges came in the shape of violent outrages leading to the loss of lives of many of our dear compatriots and the destruction of some of our infrastructure, including those devoted to improving our democratic processes”, the President stated.
He therefore, offered his condolences to the families and friends of security personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty and as a sacrifice to keep Nigeria safe; the families and friends of unfortunate victims of such senseless arsons, kidnappings and murders; even as he sympathised with families and direct victims of ransom-seeking, kidnapped victims who went through unimaginable trauma in the course of their forced imprisonment.
“Let me assure my fellow citizens that every incident, however minor gives me great worry and concern and I immediately order security agencies to swiftly but safely rescue victims and bring perpetrators to justice”, Buhari said.