The National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, held its inaugural meeting.
President Muhammadu Buhari on June 22 inaugurated the committee tasked with driving the target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, in a statement, said the vice president expressed optimism that the committee would achieve rapid progress.
The vice president said plans to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years would not be based on a business as usual approach, but a very simple, common sense strategy that would deliver results.
“In order not to make this merely another of those high-sounding committees that eventually achieve nothing, we have to be very intentional about our objectives and how to achieve them.
“I really want us to approach this as much as possible, commonsensically, so that we are able to resolve all the issues and focus on the real progress.
“I want us to look beyond all of what we are going to be doing, there is going to be a considerable amount of paper work, but a lot of common sense is what grows economies.
“It is what other countries have done, not really reinventing the wheel. So, I want us to focus on those commonsensical things, so that we can actually move forward.”
He cited the example of Bangladesh where a poverty reduction strategy was also implemented, adding that the country’s manufacturing sector was key.
According to him, Bangladesh actually exports more garments than Nigeria exports oil.
“Countries that have managed to get out of poverty have created a lot of jobs through industries, and they have developed intentional strategies.
“We must look at what others have done, the smart things that other people have done, and adopt.
“We really have to think smartly about how we are funding agriculture.
“I think we really need to take a deep dive because governments have made several efforts at poverty alleviation but generally speaking, they have not yielded the sort of results they should yield.
“And I think it is because there is a lot of focus on documentation and paper work and very little commonsense approaches.”
He emphasised that it was a national strategy as opposed to a federal strategy which was why the steering committee was made up of federal as well as state officials.
“Essentially, this effort must also be directed at how to facilitate private sector creation of jobs.
“The fact is that there is no way that the Federal Government or the State Governments can create the number of jobs that we need.
“We need to take a few broad looks at the features of what constitutes our present predicaments in terms of job losses and unemployment,” he said.
The vice president said efforts would be made to focus attention on creating opportunities for Nigerians to earn decent livelihoods in addition to equipping them with the necessary vocational skills.
Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa, who fielded questions from State House correspondents, said the essence of the committee was to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
He said that having reviewed the Terms of Reference (TOR), the Steering Committee constituted the technical working group and the National Social Protection Network and would resume its meeting after the Sallah break.
Other members of the NSC in attendance included Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who is also Nigeria Governors Forum Chairman and Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, Ministers of Agriculture, Muhammad Nanono, Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, and Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige also attended the meeting