8 million Nigerians benefit from cash transfer program, says Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari revealed that more than eight million people belonging to 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households are currently benefiting from the conditional cash transfer program.

Speaking virtually at the opening ceremony of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria’s (CIBN) 14th Annual Banking and Finance Conference on Tuesday, Buhari also said that 300 billion naira had been paid out to farmers.

The measures he explained were part of efforts to reduce poverty in the country which continues to grow, with 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households, comprising more than

The president said the National Social Register of Poor and Vulnerable Nigerians numbered 32.6 million people from 7 million identified poor and vulnerable households, imploring bankers to play a greater role in improving livelihoods.

“Of this number, 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households, comprising more than 8 million people, currently benefit from the conditional cash transfer program, which pays a bimonthly allowance of N 10,000 per household,” he said. declared.

President Buhari said the national social investment program was the largest in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the largest in the world.

According to him, “Some of the various initiatives launched to boost agricultural trade in Nigeria include the Anchor Borrowers program through which the Central Bank of Nigeria has made more than 300 billion naira available to more than 3.1 million smallholder farmers in Nigeria. 21 different products, including rice. , Wheat, Maize, Cotton, Cassava, Poultry, Soybeans, Peanuts, Fish, cultivating more than 3.8 million hectares of agricultural land.
“It is known that 80% of the rice consumed in Nigeria is now produced locally. “

To further strengthen the recovery and empower more Nigerians, President Buhari said last year that he had endorsed the establishment of InfraCo Plc, a world-class infrastructure development vehicle, fully focused on Nigeria, with a combined starting capital of debt and equity of N15 trillion, managed by an independent infrastructure fund manager.
“The Solar Power Naija project was launched in April 2021 with the aim of providing 5 million off-grid solar connections to Nigerian households. In May 2021, the Rural Electrification Agency announced the planned deployment of solar grids in 200 primary health centers and 104 Unity schools nationwide.

“Under the Family Homes Fund Limited social housing program incorporated by the Federal Government of Nigeria, over two thousand hectares of land with title deeds have been issued by 24 states with the capacity to accommodate approximately 65,000 new homes. . The Central Bank of Nigeria is providing a financing facility of 200 billion naira, with a guarantee from the federal government, ”he said.

The president said the conference theme, “Economic Recovery, Inclusion and Transformation: The Role of Banking and Finance” was the most appropriate, in the wake of global shocks from COVID-19.

“I salute the Institute and the entire banking and financial sector for their commitment to chart a practical course for the economic recovery and transformation of our country, Nigeria and, by extension, Africa, as embodied by the theme of your conference.

“I commend the financial services sector for its interventions and contributions to promoting financial inclusion and literacy in our country. And more importantly, the roles played by banks in promoting the country’s economic growth.

“I am confident that the speakers who have been carefully selected to contribute to the conference will share ideas that will help individuals, businesses and governments at all levels to make the necessary adjustments and take the right steps towards our collective resolve to position Nigeria as one of the best economies in the world, ” he added.

The president said a report from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that Nigeria’s gross domestic product grew 5.01 percent in the second quarter of 2021; the largest increase since the fourth quarter of 2014.

“This is good news and an indication that this administration’s efforts to reposition the economy are paying off,” he said, urging bankers and financial institutions to take advantage of the many business opportunities to grow. the economy.

President Buhari implored financial institutions to play a greater role in ensuring that Nigerian small and medium-sized enterprises are fit for purpose, with support in the full implementation of the “deal”.

“Indeed, the financial intermediary could not be more relevant than at a time like this. We need you, the banks, to stimulate the creation of value by developing new technologies, by evolving the payment infrastructure to serve the diversified economies that should benefit from this agreement, ” the president noted.

He said technological innovation was also important in modern business, noting that most transactions now take place online given the advent of the “Internet of Things”.

“As we continue to move towards the next frontiers of digitization, we must exploit all opportunities while being aware of the inherent risks.

“For example, data protection is now of the utmost importance to provide users with more secure access to the online space.”

President Buhari said the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything in the world, from interaction, work, communication to general lifestyle, noting that the epidemic has also triggered new opportunities that have contributed reshaping the economy in the areas of digital transformation, trans-African trade, financial inclusion, security, workforce of the future, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, processing, procurement and logistics.

“As we look beyond the effects of the pandemic into the future, there are many opportunities available to us. As you may all know, the African Continental Free Trade Area, of which Nigeria is a subscriber, is not only an opportunity for the growth of trade but also the growth of pan-African enterprises.

“This portends opportunities for our teeming youth population, women, the creative industry, the digital economy, the financial services sector, the agricultural value chain, commerce, industry, education and more. effect all aspects of the economy as Nigerians will have unlimited access to the more than 1.3 billion consumer market, ”he said.

The President congratulated the CBN, in collaboration with the Committee of Bankers, for providing single-digit funding to young Nigerians in the fields of fashion, film, music and information technology through the creation of the Creative Industry Funding Initiative.

In a goodwill message, President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda said exploring new technologies in the banking sector, with more emphasis on innovation, would improve financial inclusion.

“The banking sector can show the way towards integration. Banking is a matter of trust, ”he said.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said the regulator has worked with the Committee of Bankers to address challenges posed by Covid-19, including lowering interest rates on loans, increasing the moratorium on payments and the injection of 3 trillion naira of loans into the private sector.

“We expect the pace of inflation to moderate as the harvest season approaches,” he added, assuring that banks remain strong, resilient and healthy.

He said the N15 trillion infrastructure fund will be launched in October 2021, while innovations like Nigeria / International Financial will provide a gateway for capital and investment, and digital currency, e-naira , will improve inclusion.

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