Ismaeel Ahmed, senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on social investment programmes (SIP), says over 40 million Nigerians have benefited from the SIP scheme.
He said this on the sidelines of an event held during the 2019 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
According to a statement, the event, which focused on the multi-dimensional approach to poverty alleviation, was hosted by the government of Costa Rica and Oxford University.
Buhari had earlier said his administration would take 100 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty.
Ahmed said the current administration has laid the foundation to achieve the goal.
“The President is committed to this project, and thus has set a mandate of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty within the next 10 years. It may sound too ambitious to some or perhaps even outlandish, but with the renewed focus and commitment I have seen from the President, this is a feat that can be achieved and we must ensure that we roll up our sleeves to do just that,” he said.
“We have set targets for ourselves. We are going to up the numbers by reaching more communities, reaching more people who are within our purview. Each of the clusters of the Social Investment Programmes has a target of the number of beneficiaries it must reach within a period of time giving the availability of resources. We are going to make sure that we do not falter, slow down, relax or give up. We are determined.”
Ahmed, who was also honoured as one of the World’s Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) under 40, said the programmes will be monitored to ensure that it meets required targets.
“Also we are going to ensure that we improve on our monitoring activities – this would ensure that we take stock of where we are and what we are doing at every point in time. If we see that we are not measuring up to targets then we know that we need to scale up,” he said.
“The programmes have reached over 40 million beneficiaries so far. That is both direct and indirect beneficiaries. Over 12 million are direct beneficiaries. These are real people whose lives are being changed and transformed for the better.
“Whenever I meet a beneficiary and he or she tells me their story, I am driven to do more. And I believe that if we have done this much, with the little resources, we can do more with committed leadership, and steady, strategic and precise targets.
“I have a reason to believe that poverty should not be a permanent feature or an affliction that must remain with us. The goal set out by the President on lifting a 100 million people out of extreme poverty is a task I am personally committed and dedicated to.
“There is wisdom in creating the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. It streamlines coordination and activities. It demonstrates seriousness in solving Nigeria’s poverty problems. The Ministry has been set up as a strategic arm in revamping and improving the activities of the Social Investment Programmes and all other agencies under it and carrying out the short, medium and long term goals of taking 100 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty.”