Evidently, the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) has gained traction and unarguably is achieving the desired impact on the Nigerian economy.
For the benefit of hindsight, the COVID-19 pandemic which was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019 triggered a strangulating global economic downturn.
In its second wave, the pandemic has continued to decimate world’s population amidst the vaccine race.
On March 30, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari, set up the Economic Sustainability Committee(ESC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to develop an economic sustainability plan to last until 2023.
The ESC was mandated inter alia: To develop a stimulus package and come up with measures to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
The committee hit the ground running and after series of meetings, drafted and presented the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), which was approved by President Buhari.
On Jan. 5, Osinbajo updated Buhari on the progress recorded so far in the implementation of the ESP.
The vice president said that three months into the implementation of different components of the plan, namely: MSMEs Survival Fund; Social Housing Scheme, and Solar Home System, among others, Nigerians across different sectors had been impacted.
He said that under the Payroll Support Track of the Survival Fund, 277,628 beneficiaries drawn from 56,575 businesses had been paid.
“This total number includes the batch of 20,614 beneficiaries that were recently paid for October, and 257,014 beneficiaries that were paid for November and December.
“A breakdown of the 257,014 beneficiaries shows that N30, 000 was paid to each of the 222,466 beneficiaries as November and December payments, while N50, 000 each was paid to 34,548 beneficiaries as November and December salaries.
“Out of the total number, three per cent are beneficiaries with special needs, while 43 per cent are female employees/beneficiaries.’’
The vice president said that the enumeration of prospective beneficiaries for the Transport Support Track, which was launched in December 2020, was still ongoing.
According to him, the payment of N30, 000 one-time grants to 333,000 artisans across the country is in progress, with payments already made to verified beneficiaries in states under streams 1, 2, and 3.
He listed the states as Lagos, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Bauchi, Anambra, Abia, Plateau, Delta and FCT-under stream 1).
Taraba, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Edo, Ogun, Ekiti, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Enugu, and Ebonyi–under stream 2.
Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Zamfara, Yobe, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Oyo, Osun, Jigawa, Gombe and Benue–under stream 3.
Another component of the ESP, which the vice president briefed the president on, is the ongoing Solar Home System, designed to connect five million households in off-grid underserved communities.
He said that the process of installation of N140 billion Solar Home Systems that would cover up to five million households had started.
“The project which will serve about 25 million individuals in rural areas and urban communities began with the enlistment of solar assembling companies and components’ manufacturers as well as solar servicing firms.
“Under the scheme, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will make available funds to private companies involved in the manufacture, installation, servicing of the solar systems, at rates ranging between five to 10 per cent.
“An important aspect of the scheme is the option of outright ownership by beneficiaries at a cost ranging from N1, 500 per week to N4, 000 monthly, depending on the capacities, for a period of three years.’’
Osinbajo also highlighted the progress made so far in social housing; noting that prototype units had been inaugurated in the FCT, while construction was set to commence in 12 states.
He said that the plan by the Federal Government to support 1.5 million Nigerians to acquire low-cost houses under the Social Housing Programme of the ESP was on course, as the portal for application by prospective beneficiaries was launched in December 2020, alongside the prototype 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom units.
“The plan is to have a Rent to Own Option as part of Federal Government’s resolve to impact the common man in the social housing scheme expected to also generate 1.8 million jobs and deliver houses to about 1.5 million Nigerian families.
“Sites for early start projects have been identified in all the six geo-political zones in addition to the FCT.
“The sites include those in Ekiti and Ogun in the South-West, Enugu and Abia in the South-East, Delta and Edo in the South-South, Yobe and Bauchi in the North-East, Kaduna and Katsina in the North-West and Nasarawa and Plateau in the North-Central.
“Sites have also been identified in Abuja.
“To kickstart the Social Housing Projects, the CBN has already committed a N200 billion facility with a guarantee by the Federal Government via the Finance Ministry.’’
Again, on Jan. 19, while inaugurating the ESP’s Cash Transfer Scheme to be facilitated through a wholly technology-based approach, called the Rapid Response Register (RRR), Osinbajo was upbeat of ESP’s ability to address poverty in the country.
Osinbajo said that Federal Government’s vision of reducing extreme poverty by lifting at least 20 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next two years was within reach.
RRR is the means by which urban poor and vulnerable population can be speedily identified, using geographic satellite technology and other related means for the purposes of delivering cash to households affected by the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The groundbreaking success of the RRR now emboldens us to achieve our aspiration of a social security programme for a minimum of 20 million Nigerians in the next two years.
“ This will be the largest of its kind on the continent. This aspiration is, at least from the perspective of this tested approach, now well within our reach.
“The only constraint, of course, is the funding which we must look for because, this country deserves a social security scheme that will not merely alleviate poverty, but also create wealth for the millions of those who are waiting for this opportunity.
“Our government launched the National Social Protection Policy (NSPP) in 2017 to provide the framework for institutionalising the work we started since 2016 on reducing extreme poverty in Nigeria.
“It is based on our administration’s vision to create a comprehensive social security programme for the poor and vulnerable, and thereafter the pledge to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.”
The vice president said that the launch of the RRR social protection method of targeting, which is the first strategy to be developed and tested in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, would enable Nigeria tackle poverty in a more systematic manner, leveraging technology to expand the scope of the interventions.
“As at Dec. 31, 2020, we have identified and registered about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals into the National Social Register; equivalent to about 5.7 million households.
“ Through this project, we are currently injecting about N10 billion directly into the hands of about two million poor and vulnerable people every month.
“This is about the largest evidence-based effort by any administration on poverty reduction and its impact on the lives of the poor is huge,’’ he said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Hajia Sadiya Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said the initiative would provide a gateway to other important government programmes.
According to Farouq, Nigeria has a database for impact tracking and the expansion of social interventions and related programmes, in line with President Buhari’s vision of extending financial support to more Nigerians.
On his part, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr Subham Chaudhuri, commended the Federal Government for the initiative.
He said that it was a critical component in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chaudhuri pledged the support of the World Bank for the project and stressed the need for stakeholders to remain transparent in the selection and disbursement of the funds to the beneficiaries.
The Cash Transfer Scheme which is part of the ESP is designed to build a shock responsive framework for capturing and registering the urban poor and vulnerable populations across Nigeria.
Perceptive analysts are of the view that ESP is an economic masterpiece, which, if properly implemented, would provide a fillip to the economy and bring relief to Nigerians. (NANFeatures)
**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)