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President Muhammadu Buhari has unveiled a social investment package designed to impact on the lives of over eight million Nigerians.

This was contained in a statement by Laolu Akande, senior special assistant to the president, during an interactive session with reporters in Abuja. He clarified that some parts of this package would become operational in the coming weeks. The statement reads in part:

 “The Buhari presidency is keen to ensure that Nigerians are lifted and that if necessary on an ongoing basis, palliatives measures would always been considered to address the conditions of the people.

“Long before now, the presidency has made adequate arrangements in the 2016 budget to ensure that Nigerians are lifted from poverty and hardship. “All together the federal government would be directly impacting the lives of more than 8 million Nigerians in different social investment 2016 budget spending that would provide succor and be a ready-made palliative to ordinary Nigerians.

“The direct payment of N5000 monthly to one million extremely poor Nigerians for 12 months as provided for in the 2016 budget for which N$68.7B has been appropriated. “The government has also made available a direct provision of very soft loan -cash for market women, men and traders, including artisans and agric workers. This would be for a total of 1.76m Nigerians, without the requirement for conventional collateral. “Some of the traders will likely get about N60,000.

A total sum of N140.3B has already been appropriated for this in the budget. The details also showed their there would be payment of between N23,000 to N30,000 per month to 500,000 unemployed graduates who would be trained, paid and deployed to work as volunteer teachers, public health officers and extension service workers among other responsibilities.

“They would also be given electronic devices to empower them technologically both for their assignments and beyond. 100,000 artisans would also be trained and paid N191.5B has been set aside for this in the passed budget. “At least 5.5 million Nigerian primary school children -ie starting first in 18 states-three per geopolitical zones-would be fed for 200 school days under the free Homegrown School Feeding Programme. N93.1B has been appropriated for this in the 2016 budget.

“In this same vein, 100,000 tertiary students in Science Technology Engineering & Maths-STEM, plus Education will partake in the N5.8B already provided for this education grant in the budget. This payment would also be paid directly to the students.”

Akande said that this will not only pacify the current pains arising from the new fuel pricing regime, but will give ongoing social safety nets for over 8 million Nigerians this year alone. The presidential aide added that this is beside the jobs that would be created by the infrastructural projects that would be restored and the new ones that would soon be taking off. Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum, has on May 11 announced the removal of fuel subsidy and the increasing the pump price of petrol to N145 per litre.

Nigerians have been angry last week with the Buhari government and its decision to set the new price for petroleum, saying that the president is adding pains to them, but not ease their sufferings. The APC had during its campaign supported the promise of paying N5,000 as monthly stipend to the most vulnerable in the country.

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