…Restates call for equitable vaccine distribution, sustained funding of gas projects
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
VICE President Yemi Osinbajo Tuesday stated that social protection schemes can break the cycle of poverty, give real access to jobs, economic opportunities, and improve human capacity.
Professor Osinbajo stated this when he participated at a virtual United Nations High-Level Forum on Jobs and Social Protection.
He noted that the Nigeria’s response to the fallouts of COVID-19 was guided by the conviction that “social protection schemes are crucial, and can break the cycle of poverty, give real access to jobs and economic opportunities, and improve human capacity and productivity.”
The Vice President in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande added that the Economic Sustainability Plan (the government’s response) was aimed at restoring growth by mitigating the macroeconomic shocks, tackling the health challenge, averting business closures, protecting and creating jobs, protecting the poor and vulnerable while repositioning the economy for future resilience.
According to him, “in addition to scaling up health interventions, the Plan contained labour-intensive interventions in agriculture, housing, and public works programmes and the provision of solar energy to 5 million homes.
“The ESP also had a Survival Fund which gave payroll support to small businesses in manufacturing and services as well as to artisans and transporters. As a result of our interventions, we have been able to provide finance and off-take opportunities for millions of farmers.
“We have also been able to save up to 1 million jobs and prevented the close-down of at least 150,000 small businesses. We are also able to extend support to vulnerable groups by deepening our existing social intervention programmes and the development of a Rapid Response Register for cash transfers to the urban poor.”
Noting that poor financial resources remained a constraint to achieving set objectives, Prof. Osinbajo acknowledged “the importance of the recently approved increase of $650 billion in SDR allocations for improving global liquidity.”
The Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) are supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets defined and maintained by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They represent a claim to currency held by IMF member countries for which they may be exchanged.)
Prof. Osinbajo restated the call for improved access to vaccines and sustained funding of gas projects, stating that “we believe also that the already challenging global environment is now being further complicated by lack of access to vaccines as well as by policy moves in developed economies and international financial institutions to defund gas projects.”
He reiterated “it is clear that climate change and environmental damage will harm the prospect of creating jobs in many countries of the world including ours. Yet we know that access to energy is vital for generating the fast growth required to create jobs and to provide the resources for social protection.
“For a gas rich country like Nigeria, we have to deploy gas not only for electricity but also to reduce the carbon emissions that result from the use of firewood and coal for cooking.”
The Vice President had at different fora, raised the issue of financing of gas projects in developing countries, like Nigeria, advocating for a just transition and more effective engagements towards the target of Net-Zero Emission by 2050.
As part of measures to actualize the global target of Net-Zero Emission by 2050, some developed economies and international financial institutions are announcing the defunding of gas and fossil fuel projects across the world.
Nigeria has risen against such defunding as it hampers the growth and developmental efforts of developing countries.