By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the All Progressives Congress (APC) drafted its manifesto in 2014 with focus on social investments.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Monday in Abuja, said the vice president spoke at the 5th edition of the Airtel Touching Lives event held recently in Lagos.
According to Osinbajo, social safety nets are not merely acts of sovereign kindness but a sovereign obligation – a responsibility.
“Convinced that government owed a duty to the poor, the weak, the vulnerable and those who cannot work, the APC in 2014 included in its manifesto a social safety initiative to specifically address poverty amongst other things.
“Listening to each story of a life touched this evening must remind us of the many others who need our help, our comfort and our kindness; the poor and vulnerable always need a voice.
“In 2014, Mr Wale Edun, Prof. Pat Utomi and I met at Utomi’s home to write portions of the manifesto of the APC.
“We all agreed that a fundamental pillar of our party’s plans must be to create a social safety net for the people.
“We were convinced that government owed a duty to the poor, the weak, the vulnerable and those who cannot work.’’
The vice president said the effort of Airtel was commendable, especially in complementing the work already done by government in tackling poverty.
He said the social safety net scheme was the fore of APC’s Social Investment Programmes in which it was feeding no fewer than 9.5 million children in public schools in 34 states across Nigeria.
Osinbajo said that the administration was giving monthly cash to nearly a million households as part of its conditional cash transfer scheme.
“We have given, as at the last count, 2.2 million loans to petty traders whose inventories are no more than N5, 000.
“We have also engaged about 500, 000 young men and women who have been unemployed – over different periods of time-under our N-Power programme.
“But we are still very far from touching majority of those who need help; it is clear, that to do so, we need far more resources behind that programme.
“This is why the work of social conscious companies like Airtel is so vital; bridging the huge gap between what government can do and what is left to be done,” he said.(NAN)