By Gabriel Ewepu
THE Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, said with Federal Government’s intervention and supply of first tranche of 2000 buses to various cooperatives across the country will reduce impact of poverty.
Akume delivering his keynote Tuesday, at the Inter-Ministerial Stakeholders Meeting on the Supply of 2000 Buses to Cooperative Societies in Nigeria held in Abuja, assured that the Buhari-led administration’s focus is on the masses and every policy, programme and projects are conceived and concentrated on the people.
He further stated that the government will do everything possible to give a comfortable life to Nigerians irrespective of where they come from.
The event also had in attendance the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Nanono; Minister of State for Transport, Senator Gbemisola Sarki; and the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige.
Meanwhile, according to the Federal Director of Cooperatives in the Ministry of Agriculture, Abubakar Jibril, the buses are to be off-taken based on viability of cooperative collated at the local government, state and national levels that are able and willing to repay cost of the vehicles.
Jubril also disclosed that Nigeria currently has about 30 million members of primary cooperatives and about 26, 000 cooperatives, and at the state level 8, 000 secondary cooperatives, and at the national level 25 registered apexes, which each has an average close to especially the farmers’ cooperatives about 25 million members at the grassroots level, therefore, delivery of the bus project will be a format which is to follow the structure of the cooperative system.
Akume said: “The Alleviation of Poverty in Nigeria has been and always remains a cardinal agenda of the Administration of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and this point has been repeatedly stated by Mr. President in several of his speeches. You will kindly recall that President Muhammadu Buhari in his 2019 Democracy Day address said, “With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.”
“This point was also recently reiterated in his speech at the general debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly held on 22nd September 2020 where he listed some of the steps taken by his government to tackle and eradicate poverty amongst Nigerian citizens
“The need to tackle and eradicate poverty has become even more accentuated in the aftermath of the Covid 19 Pandemic and its devastating effect on the world economy generally as well the difficulties encountered by the recent deregulation of the downstream sector which is aimed at putting the economy on sound footing.
“Therefore there is an urgent need to act timeously so as to cushion the effects of these hardships on the general populace. Already, many Presidential initiatives have been put in place ameliorate the adverse effects of the pandemic.
“It is in line with this key Agenda of Mr. President that the idea of convening an inter-ministerial meeting with other ministries, departments and agencies as well as Organised Private sector and Civil Society Organizations to collaborate towards the achievement of this key agenda was birthed.
“It is to be noted that this meeting is unique in the sense that it seeks to tackle the issue of poverty eradication from a wealth creation approach using the platform of Cooperative Societies in Nigeria. It is envisaged that the distribution and deployment of 2000 Buses (being the first tranche) to these cooperative societies will go a long way in ensuring that jobs are not only created but that an enabling environment for wealth creation is also engendered with the eventual acquisition and ownership of these vehicles by the members of the cooperative societies.”
The Minister disclosed that his Ministry proposes to adopt and undertake the utilization of cooperative societies as an outcome of the meeting and sets it apart from but also complements the other measures being adopted by government to tackle and eradicate poverty.
“The utilization of the Cooperative societies as the preferred Platform for driving this initiative arises from the fact that they are spread evenly along the length and breadth of the country and have a wider reach in terms of its membership. Furthermore cooperatives
“Societies are organised, regulated and offer cross-guarantees within its membership and thus ensures that the important attributes of transparency and accountability, trust and social capital associated with cooperatives societies provide sufficient safeguards for the supply of these vehicles to its members.
He also added that “I, therefore, hope that the foregoing has set the right tone and pace for an interactive, integrated and all-inclusive stakeholder engagement that will ensure in this meeting as we attempt to work out the modalities for the supply and subsequent acquisition of these vehicles. I must not close this speech without acknowledging and recognising the role of the several ministries, departments and agencies that worked tirelessly with me and my ministry to put this initiative together.”