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Buhari talks poverty reduction at retreat for ministers-designate

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari Monday said eight years of his leadership will prepare the ground for 100 million Nigerians to be out of poverty in the next 10 years.

“Our Administration’s eight years will have laid the grounds for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years,” Buhari told his ministers-designate at a retreat organised for them in Abuja.

“This outcome will fundamentally shift Nigeria’s trajectory and place us among the world’s great nations.”

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The president made a similar comment on June 12 during the commemoration of Democracy Day.

More than 87 million out of about 190 million Nigerians are currently leaving in extreme poverty, the Brookings Institution said in 2018.
While the country is targeting a 3.0% growth in 2019, the ever-spiking population will limit the impact such growth can have on poverty reduction.

With the population growing at the rate of 3.2% annually, the United Nations projected that the country’s population may rise to 411 million by 2050, making Nigeria the third-most populous country in the world. The United States Census Bureau projection for the same period put that figure at 402 million.

The problem is not lost on the Nigerian leader. He thinks the population growth can be a blessing in disguise.

“This is a frightening prospect but only if we sit idly by and expect hand-outs from so-called development partners,” he told the men and women who will form his cabinet for the next four years. “The solution to our problems lies within us.”

The government has a multi-billion naira social investment programme, the largest in the history of Nigeria, in place to counter rising poverty.

But with upticks in employment among the country’s young people now at 23.1%, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, President Buhari and his team need to do more.

“As Ministers, I am counting on you together with advisers and Nigerians willing and able to contribute to build upon our road map of policies, programmes and projects that will lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and set them on the road to prosperity,” he told the ministers-designate.

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