*UNDP flags-off economic revitalisation programme for over 3,000 Kwarans
*Cash transfer a proven antidote to extreme poverty – AbdulRazaq
By; BILQIS OLAJUMOKE ONAOLAPO, Ilorin
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Friday, said there are enough evidences to prove that cash transfer programme for the vulnerable people is a workable solution to extreme poverty, commending the Federal Government for leading the way.
The governor spoke in Ilorin, the state capital, at the launch of the United Nations Development Programme Socio-Economic Revitalisation Support Programme, which targets over 3,000 vulnerable families and small businesses for unconditional cash transfer.
“Cash transfer to vulnerable people has proven to be a workable solution to extreme poverty. There are documented evidences of how putting money directly in the hands of the needy has helped to refocus the global efforts to empower people. It gives people the power to dictate the direction of their own future,” he said.
“In Kwara State, we have long domiciled the cash transfer policy of President Muhammadu Buhari. It works for us as it has worked for the Federal Government. Through our social investment programmes and some other interventions, we have reduced the poverty rate from 30.2% to 20.4%. We have also helped young people to grow their businesses.
“Like our own Owo Arugbo, I am aware that the UNDP’s cash transfer has no strings attached. Regardless, I urge beneficiaries to use the money judiciously. This is the way to encourage organizations like the UNDP and the government to do more in the hope that the objective of spreading wealth will not be defeated.”
AbdulRazaq commended the federal government and UNDP for making impactful contributions to strengthen small scale businesses and bring comfort to the masses after the pandemic.
“The Economic Revitalisation Programme (unconditional cash transfer) that we are launching today is another evidence of how much the UNDP cares about inclusion of everyone for sustainable growth,” the Governor added.
“We commend you for your roles in making our world a better place. This initiative is a life-saver for vulnerable families and small businesses who were badly hit following the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In attendance were the Chief of Staff to the President Prof Ibrahim Gambari; representative of
the Special Assistant to the President on SDGs Israel Echukwu; Resident representative of UNDP in Nigeria Mohamed Yahaya; Cabinet members; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on SDGs Dr. Jemilat Bio; representative of Chairman YOLAS Consultancy Engr Lanre Sagaya, Alhaji Ibrahim Salman; Chairman LUBCON Nig. Ltd and top APC Chieftain Alhaji Jani Ibrahim; Professor Ibrahim Abdulganiyu Jawondo and Professor Hassan Saliu.
Royal fathers at the event included the representative of the Emir of Ilorin and Balogun Alanamu of Ilorin, Dr. Usman Abubakar Jos; Olusin of Ijara-Isin HRH Pharmacist Julius Ademola; representative of the Olofa of Offa, High Chief Isiaka Adebayo; Oloro of Oro-Ago HRH Oba Johnson Dada; other traditional rulers.
The Governor had earlier led the Chief of Staff, UNDP officials and other dignitaries on an inspection of the office of the State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP), where they saw applicants of Kwapreneur 3.0 speak to their pitches. The delegation had also visited the garment factory — an investment that is billed to employ thousands of people.
Prof. Gambari, for his part, praised AbdulRazaq’s efforts in bringing economic development to the people of Kwara State as demonstrated by his timely collaboration between the Kwara State Government and the UNDP on a cash transfer economic empowerment project that he noted will impact lives and change destinies.
“It is instructive to affirm that this collaborative intervention between the Kwara State Government and the UNDP is timely as it portends great opportunities of positively turning around the fate of the beneficiaries, their respective communities and the nation at large. We must therefore as a people join Mr. President in applauding the Kwara State Government and UNDP for this worthy and significant project,” according to the Chief of Staff.
“The choice of Kwara State for this programme is no doubt very strategic, considering the antecedent and current ranking of the state in the productivity quotient of the nation. Kwara State has been a very productive and economically viable state and has always contributed substantially to the GDP of the nation.
“This assertion is evident in the fact that the northern part of the state from time immemorial has always been one of the most valuable agricultural belts and food baskets of the nation, contributing between 8th and 18th percentage in the production of agricultural commodities, while the southern part of the state has also been reputed for massive cultivation of cash crops as well as trading in essential goods and materials.”
He appealed to the beneficiaries of the programme to attach to all components of the programme the focus and attention required for maximum life-changing results, urging them to see it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn the corner in the race to attain personal sustainable economic empowerment.
UNDP representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Yahaya, said the programme seeks to strengthen the capacities of communities affected by the impact of the pandemic, with at least 3,000 kwara women and youths expected to benefit.
He said the UNDP has so far implemented the programme across 10 states in the Country, with over 80,000 beneficiaries supported since 2020 to date, calling it a positive step to herald several other steps to the economic recovery in the Country.
Mohamed commended the state government for rising to the occasion at all times and for implementing several initiatives to support the people of the State.
Special Assistant to the President on SDGs Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, who was represented by Mr. Israel Echukwu, said all hands must be on deck for the country to achieve greatly on the implementation of SDG goals, and hailed the Governor for doing so well in this respect.
In her address of welcome, Bio, said the Covid19 has imposed untold hardship on many vulnerable women and youth across the State, and affirmed that the State government has been doing a lot to resuscitate businesses and support economic growth of the State.
The UNDP unconditional cash transfer programme targets 3,082 persons across two broad categories: startups who are to get 100,000 each and informal businesses who will get N50,000 each, with emphasis placed on women, youths, and vulnerable households.