Segun Babatunde, Bauchi
The Federal Government through the Federal CARES Support Unit of the NG-CARES Programme has hosted a town hall meeting in Bauchi reiterating its commitment towards restoring the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, maintain food security and facilitate the recovery of MSEs.
The disclosure was made by the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, and Chairman of the Federal CARES Steering Committee of the NG-CARES Programme, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba during a Ministerial Town Hall Meeting on the Nigeria Covid-19 Actions Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NGCARES ) Programme held at the Command Guest House, Bauchi on Tuesday.
Our Correspondent reports that the Town Hall Meeting provided the Federal Government with the opportunity to interact with Stakeholders of the programme, State government officials, and Beneficiaries to obtain and document information on achievements and challenges from direct beneficiaries.
The participants at the event included commissioners of Finance/Budget, Beneficiaries of the NG-CARES Programme from Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Plateau States.
It is been hosted by the Federal CARES Support Unit of the NG-CARES Programme.
The Minister who spoke in a Keynote address he delivered during the meeting explained that the NG-CARES Programme is one of the policy options explored by the Administration to achieve these objectives saying, “In about a year of full implementation, NG-Cares, I am pleased to note has impacted over 2 million direct beneficiaries. This is based on the report of the first round of assessment of the Programme implementation conducted by an Independent Verification Agent.”
According to him,”in order to mitigate the adverse impacts of the Pandemic and lay a solid foundation for a robust economic recovery, the Federal Government enunciated several policy measures under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) which was launched by the President, Muhammad Buhari in July 2021.”
The Minister who was represented by Reverend Aso Vakporaye, Chairman, Federal Cares Technical Committee of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme stressed that,”The ESP laid out policy measures to mobilize funds and other resources to maintain macro-economic stability, stimulate oil and non-oil government revenues and reduce non-essential spending.”
He then added that In furtherance of Government effort to scale up its programme under the social protection agenda and to respond swiftly and appropriately to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it accessed a World Bank concessional loan in the sum of US$750 million on behalf of the 36 States and FCT to stimulate the local economy and increase households consumption among the poor and vulnerable segment of the society
To ensure that implementation of the NG-CARES Programme was fast tracked in line with the ESP and cognisant of the peculiarities of the country, each State and FCT was given the flexibility to select a minimum of 4 from the list of 11 Disbursement Linked Indicators.
He explained that, “This flexibility seeks to improve the partnership between the States and Federal government in the delivery of pro-poor interventions using existing platforms at the sub-National level.”
“It is my pleasure to be with you at this Maiden Ministerial Town Hall Meeting for stakeholders under the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) Programme. The Town Hall meeting is initiated by my Ministry to promote open and transparent governance where citizens participatory engagement is further strengthened within the framework of President Buhari’s Government of social accountability,” he said.
He commended President, Muhammed Buhari for providing the guiding vision and directing mandate to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the period of 10 years.
According to him,”This is a noble agenda to which all the structures of Government at all levels are committed to and precisely this is one of the reasons why we are gathered here today.”
He also said that, “We all recall that the COVID-19 pandemic which ravaged many economies in the world had devastating consequences on the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable individuals, formal and informal businesses, especially Micro and Small businesses and peasant farmers who rely on daily subsistence income to survive.”
The Minister further said that,”One of President Buhari’s strategies is to intermittently meet with, and engage stakeholders as part of Government’s accountability to the citizens. The purpose basically is to hear, first-hand, views of our people on government policies and programmes and to feel the pulse of Nation.”
According to him, “This interaction is even more imperative given the fact that the NG-CARES Programme draws some of its beneficiaries from the National Social Register. It is important to enquire from you how effective is this approach as we seek the consolidation of the National Social Register as a major source of credible data for social protection intervention in the country.”
He he Government of Nigeria will listen to you and let me assure you that your views and contributions will be invaluable in our effort to build a socially-inclusive nation. We would not rest on our oars in reaching out to Nigerians. The Buhari-led administration will continue to strive and deliver developments to Nigerians even if it has only a few seconds to hand over to the next administration.
“This Town Hall meeting, therefore, provides an opportunity for both government and the citizens to interact with a view to increasing better governance and participatory democracy. The outcome of this interaction would form part of what this present government will hand over to the incoming Government,” he explained.
In his welcome address, Chairman, Federal Cares Technical Committee of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme, Mr . Aso Vakporaye explained that the purpose of the gathering was to provide the Federal Government with the opportunity to interact with stakeholders (implementing agencies and beneficiaries) of the Programme to obtain and document information on achievements and challenges from direct beneficiaries and implementing entities.
According to him, “You will agree with me that the COVID – 19 pandemic unleashed some challenges, and many people thought that dead bodies would litter the streets of developing countries like Nigeria, where our health care system is relatively weak.”
Represented by the Head, M&E, Federal CARES Support Unit, Atiku Abubakar Musa, Aso Vakporaye said that,”The Federal Government of Nigeria, in its proactive posture, developed the Economic Sustainability Plan, which inspired the preparation and eventual implementation of the NG-CARES Programme in the 36 States and FCT.”
According to him, “We are proud to say that the Programme has recorded tangible results and has positively affected so many poor and vulnerable Nigerians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and other shocks across the country.”
He then appreciated Dr. Mrs Zainab Shamsuna Ahmad, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning for believing in the NG-CARES Programme Objective towards its contribution to actualise Mr. President’s agenda of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
He also thanked Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, the Minister of State Budget and National Planning, Chairman of the Federal CARES Steering Committee (FCSC), who directed the convocation of the town hall meetings under his leadership and guidance.
Vakporaye further acknowledged the funding support of World Bank and the Task Team that have tenaciously supported this great initiative, I sincerely appreciate their efforts and support to the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure that the Programme was not a mirage but now a reality.