Convinced that government owes a duty to the poor, the weak, the vulnerable and those who cannot work, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in 2014 included in its manifesto a social safety initiative to specifically address poverty among other things, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this in his remark at the 5th edition of the Airtel Touching Lives event held in Lagos at the weekend.
According to the Vice President, “Listening to each story of a life touched this evening must remind us of the many others who need our help, our comfort and our kindness. The poor and vulnerable always need a voice.
“In 2014, Mr Wale Edun, Prof. Pat Utomi and I met at Pat’s home to write portions of the manifesto of the APC.
“We all agreed that a fundamental pillar of our party’s plans must be to create a social safety net for the people. We were convinced that government owed a duty to the poor, the weak, the vulnerable and those who cannot work.”
Continuing Prof. Osinbajo stated, “Social safety nets are not merely acts of sovereign kindness; they are a sovereign obligation – a responsibility.”
Making reference to the Social Investment Programmes of the Federal Government, the Vice President said the effort of Airtel was commendable especially in complementing the work already done by government in tackling poverty.
He said, “Today, the social safety net scheme is the fore of our Social Investment Programmes where we are feeding about 9.5 million children in public schools in 34 states across Nigeria; we are giving monthly cash to about nearly a million households as part of our conditional cash transfer scheme; we have given, as at the last count, 2.2 million loans to petty traders whose inventories are no more than N5, 000.
“We have also engaged about 500, 000 young men and women, who have been unemployed (over different periods of time) under our N-Power programme. But we are still very far from touching majority of those who need help.
“It is clear that to do so, we need far more resources behind that programme. This is why the work of social conscious companies like Airtel is so vital. Bridging the huge gap between what government can do and what is left to be done.”