Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo declared on Monday that spending N1 trillion directly on poor Nigerians annually could make a huge difference, lifting them out of poverty.
Speaking during the 9th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he said that “if we spend N1 trillion to bail out the poor in this country every year, we will make a massive difference.”
Osinbajo pointed out that job creation had always been a priority of the present administration, and that the surest way to create jobs was by providing an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
According to him: “In analysing the solutions, we were clear that the surest way of creating jobs is by enabling the private sector to do business easily so that opportunities are created in Agriculture and the agro-allied industry, services, manufacturing etc.
“But we realized that that would not solve the immediate problems of thousands of graduates who have no jobs, or the millions who are at the bottom of the trading pyramid, barely eking out a living. This, we believed, created a compelling argument for direct intervention by the government.
“Our preferred approach has been a practical one. So, while we worked through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), to improve the business environment, and worked on several sector-based incentivisation schemes, we also undertook a hands-on approach to getting MSMEs work.
“Our MSME clinics all over the country have been great successes. At those clinics, 20 states so far, I have been in attendance in no less than 18 states along with relevant regulatory or pre-investment agencies.
“So, there are actual interactions with the small businesses. Our focus has been to ensure that the regulators understand their role as facilitators not an obstacle to business.
“We are also establishing one-stop shops in the states, where all regulators are under the same roof in the states”.
The Vice-President further explained that since the largest number of small businesses in Nigeria are the market women, men and petty traders, the government opted to enhance environments in markets and commercial clusters with facilities like electricity, solar power.
“We have powered Ariara Market, Aba; Sabongari Market, Kano; Sura Market in Lagos, Isinkan Market in Ondo, Bola Ige Market in Ibadan, Oyo State, and Edaiken Market in Benin City, Edo State.
“For the small businesses also, we expanded the microcredit to small businesses under our Government Empowerment & Enterprise Programme (GEEP): N15.183 billion in interest-free loans ranging from N50,000 to N350,000 have been disbursed to more than 300,000 market women, traders, artisans, and farmers, across all 36 states of the country and the FCT, with 56% of the loans going to women,” he said.
Speaking on the TraderMoni programme, he said “we are giving microcredit to two million petty traders across the country. The scheme enables them to draw further credit if they are able to pay back within six months.
“By giving them credit to replenish and increase their inventories, we give them a stronger chance, to earn more, while they also service the value chain that they are a part of.
“But more importantly, we bring them into the formal sector, where they have access to government and private credit and we lift more permanently out of poverty.
“We in the Economic Management Team have also undertaken a rigorous review of the situation and identified a number of measures that need to be taken to address job creation.
“These include deliberate engagement with the private sector to develop practical training materials that are relevant to industry which will guarantee off-take for those that are trained; an adjustment of the current system that implements the Industrial Training Fund in order to ensure that it provides value to employers in the private sector, portals that will assist job seekers with matching them with job opportunities and building a data tracking system that will monitor our progress”.