The Federal Government has unveiled a social investment package designed to impact on the lives of over eight million Nigerians. This was disclosed on Sunday by Dr. Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the President, during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja. Akande explained that some parts of this package would become operational in the coming weeks.
One of the highlights of the package, said Akande, is the feeding of 5.5 million school children, who are to be fed for 200 school days in the first phase of homegrown school feeding programme for which N93.1billion was budgeted.
Another element of the package is the proposed provision of soft loans to over 1.76 million traders, market women, men, artisans and those involved in agriculture. The loans, he explained, will not require to be conventionally collateralized. Some traders, he said, may get about N60,000. A total sum of N140.3billion has already been appropriated for this in the budget.
Also, one hundred thousand artisans are to be trained in a programme for which N191.5 billion has been budgeted.
Also, one million desperately poor and vulnerable Nigerians are to be paid N60,000 stipend this year in a monthly installment of N5000.
Five hundred thousand unemployed graduates, the presidential aide added, will be paid between N23,000 to N30,000 per month. They will be trained and deployed to work as volunteer teachers, public health officers, and extension service workers among other responsibilities.
Beneficiaries of the scheme will also be given electronic devices to empower them technologically both for their assignments and beyond.
In tertiary institutions, 100,000 tertiary students in Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) and Education, Akande further disclosed, will benefit from education grants for which N5.8billion has been already provided for in the budget. This payment, he added, will be directly made to the students.
"When added together this year alone, more than 8 million Nigerians would be benefiting from the Social Investment budget.
"Long before now, the Presidency has made adequate arrangements in the 2016 budget to ensure that Nigerians are lifted from poverty and hardship," said Akande, who operates from the Vice President's office.
He added that jobs would be created by the launch of fresh infrastructural projects and restoration of existing ones.
"The Buhari presidency is keen to ensure that Nigerians are lifted and that if necessary, on an ongoing basis, palliative measures would always be considered to address the conditions of the people," he declared.