The Nigerian Government school feeding programme for primary school pupils exceeded its target of 5.5 million and reached no fewer than 8.5 million pupils by December 2018, the Nigerian Permanent Mission to the UN has said.
Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Amb. Samson Itegboje stated this at the 57th Session of the Commission for Social Development at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Itegboje said the socio-economic development landscape in Nigeria was rapidly changing based on sound fiscal, social protection and economic measures put in place by the Federal Government.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari was at the verge of implementing a new minimum wage for public sector workers in the country in addition to the enhancement of remuneration of the personnel of the Police and settlement of pension of retired soldiers.
Besides, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), unveiled in 2017, has positively impacted by expanding all strata of the economy thereby bridging unemployment gaps and touching the lives of many more Nigerians.
Itegboje said, “As at August 2018, the social policy of Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme, had overshot its target of 5.5 million by recording 8.51 million, in 47,299 primary schools, located in 24 states in the country.
“The programme was introduced by our government and designed to provide one nutritious meal a day for children in classes one to three, in public primary schools, with food locally grown by farmers.
“Consequently, the programme has trickled financial benefits to a total of 90,670 cooks and enhanced capital income of rural farmers in various local communities.
“Government is also subsidising the examination fees for students of secondary schools and entrance examination fees into the Tertiary Institutions in the country.
“The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme loan scheme otherwise known as ‘Trader Moni’ created to provide interest-free loans with six-months repayment period for petty traders and artisans in the society has grown tremendously from initial N10,000 to N100,000.
“As at August 2018, the sum of $10,722,222 had been disbursed to cumulatively, 386,000 beneficiaries from all the 36 states in the country including the Federal Capital Territory”.
According to him, the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme, whereby government disbursed N5,000 monthly stipend to the poor and vulnerable households in the society has continued to empower the poorest of the poor in the society and salvage them from the yoke of poverty.
Itegboje said Nigeria was currently reviewing its national policy on ageing with inputs from all relevant stakeholders.
He said based on the recognition of the immense contributions of civil societies in reaching out to the older persons at the grassroots’ level, the government was partnering and engaging them in the areas of project identification and implementation, particularly in the rural areas where most of the senior citizens were situated.
“In meeting the relevant provisions of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Act prohibiting all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities in the country.
“Under the Act, a Commission is being established as a machinery for the implementation and enforcement of its relevant provisions.
“A major feature of the Act is the setting aside of five per cent of every vacancy in public sector for persons with disabilities, as well as imposing fines against people who engage in discrimination against any of the 19 million Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the country.
“Our Government is partnering with a major producer of artificial limbs and prosthetics for free provision, fixing and distribution of these assistive devices to many PWDs, who cannot afford them across the country,” the envoy said.
Itegboje said Nigeria remained committed to the implementation of the outcomes of 1995 Copenhagen Declaration of the World Social Summit on Development and would continue to put its citizens at the centre of development by removing them from poverty.
This, the Nigerian envoy, said the country hoped to achieve through the implementation of socially inclusive development programmes aimed at increasing their living standard through the creation of economic opportunities, employment generation and provision of good fiscal, wage and decent living condition.