BY Gloria Abutu
Over 2 million people have benefited from the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus NG-CARES Programme of the federal government.
Minister of state for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba stated this in Yola in a keynote address at a Ministerial Town hall meeting on NG-CARES for stakeholders in Adamawa and Taraba states.
Minister of state for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba said the NG-CARES Programme is one of the policy options explored by the present administration to restore the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, maintain food security and facilitate the recovery of Micro and Small Enterprises.
Agba said, “The Federal Government once again wishes to restate its commitment to restoring the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, maintain food security and facilitate the recovery of MSEs”.
“The NG-CARES Programme is one of the policy options explored by our Administration to achieve these objectives.”
” 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”, he noted.
Represented by the Chairman, Federal Cares Technical Committee of the NG- CARES programme Mr. Aso Vakporare, the minister noted that the meeting was an opportunity for both government and citizens to interact with a view to increasing participatory democracy and better governance.
According to Agba, the meeting sought consolidation of the National Social Register as a major source of credible data for social protection intervention in the country and announced a 12- months extension of the programme to allow more people benefit from the intervention.
“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, the Federal Government 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”, he added.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Director of Finance, National Cares Coordination Office, Abubakar Bisala
acknowledged the funding support of the World Bank and state governments which contributed to the success of NG-CARES, pointing out that the programme is caring for the poor and vulnerable Nigerians with the aim of fighting poverty in the country.
According to Bisala, “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”.
“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”.
“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 said.
The Adamawa state commissioner for Finance, Doctor Ishaya Dabari said the programme has been impactful in fighting poverty by improving the livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable.
Other speakers at the town hall meeting including representatives of Ministries, departments and agencies, lauded the initiative and solicited higher allocation of resources to the agricultural sector for greater economic impact.
In their testimonies, the delighted beneficiaries from Adamawa and Taraba were full of appreciation to the federal government for the initiative.
They noted that the intervention has significantly helped to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on their livelihoods.
The Beneficiaries said they received farm inputs such as seedlings, fertilizers and herbicides; Point of Sale, POS machines and other devices that have improved their businesses, as well as water supply to their farms, among other interventions.