By Deji Elumoye
The federal government has released N288 billion out of the N599 billion appropriated
for COVID-19 intervention programmes under its Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who made this disclosure yesterday at the meeting of the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), which he presided over at the State House, Abuja, explained that since the introduction of the ESP few months back no fewer than 2.1 million jobs have been saved, including creation of new ones, while over 4,000km of federal and rural roads are at least 30 per cent completed.
While noting the considerable progress recorded, Osinbajo affirmed the President’s resolve to always look out for the Nigerian people, and urged members of the committee “to bear in mind that the vast majority of our people are not allowed to suffer.”
Commenting on the reports presented by ESC members at the meeting, the VP said “I think that it will be fair to say that on account of the very good work that you all have done, we were able to get out of recession much faster than anyone would have imagined, although only marginally.”
Urging ministers and heads of agencies implementing key programmes of government not to rest on their oars, he noted that “it is important for us to continually bear in mind that we really have a duty to ensure that the vast majority of our people are not allowed to suffer.
So, I feel we should be thinking more about the next thing that we need to do.”
Ministers and heads of agencies executing the Buhari administration’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) reported significant improvement in the implementation of the plan, as the Federal Government ramps up funding for projects across sectors to impact more Nigerians.
Already more than 50 per cent of the appropriated sum for the ESP has been released. Under the Survival Fund scheme specifically, 1.3 million jobs have been saved, and another 774,000 jobs created from the Public Works Programme. This is apart from the total 26,021 jobs created from construction and rehabilitation works.
Other highlights include the release of 100% (i.e. N5bn) appropriation for the COVID-19 Aviation intervention; 50 per cent funding (N26billion) for the Public Works scheme hiring 774,000 persons across the country, among others.
In digital skills support for youth and women, anchored by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clem Agba reported that N1.5 billion which is 50 per cent of the amount appropriated for the scheme primarily targeted for job creation has been released to the ministry.
He added that priority programmes for the intervention is the training of 600 youths (100 from each of the six geo-political zones) on VSAT technologies who will also be supported with laptops and stipends.
The Minister noted that the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs has received N625 million (representing 50 per cent of appropriated funds) to implement an empowerment scheme for women through capacity building in innovation and vocational training.
For the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports, Agba said N2.6 billion representing 50 per cent appropriation was released for implementation of youth employability improvement scheme through capacity building in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, positioning Nigerian youths for digital remote jobs and equipping of youths digital/robotic training centres across the six geo-political zones.
Another key highlight of the progress report is the release of N1.25 billion (50 per cent) to the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons for implementation of programmes for vulnerable and displaced persons, specifically the construction of 400 housing units for persons of concern in Zamfara, Yobe, Katsina, and Edo states; eight PHCs and others and empowerment of 900 persons of concern with skills, starter packs and startup capital.
He also reported that the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development received N2.45 billion representing 7.5 per cent of N32.45 billion for cash transfer to the poor and vulnerable, while the balance of N30 billion is being processed.
In strengthening health system, Agba said 52 Federal Tertiary Health (FTHs) Institutions received N23.57 billion (N853m each) for the establishment of ICUs, Molecular Laboratories and Isolation Centres.
The progress report presented by the Minister showed that in 38 FTHs implementation is at an average of 47 per cent completion with procurement process completed and equipment supply in progress.
Expected outcomes from the interventions in the sector include 520 fully equipped ICU beds available in FTHs; 52 Isolation wards with an aggregate of 1040 beds and associated patient monitoring equipment and 52 molecular labs with the capacity to carry out a minimum of 150 PCR test a day.