By Tanko Mohammed
President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, received Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who updated him on the progress so far in the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).
Osinbajo’s spokesman Laolu Akande in a statement said it was the duo’s first official meeting for the year.
Buhari had in 2020 mandated Osinbajo, as chair of the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC), to coordinate the implementation of the ESP aimed at cushioning the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vice president said that three months into the implementation of different components of the ESP: MSMEs Survival Fund; Social Housing Scheme, and Solar Home System, among others, Nigerians across different sectors had been impacted.
He said that under MSMEs Survival Fund, more Nigerians had received Payroll Support payments, Artisans and Transport Grants.
“For the Payroll Support track of the Survival Fund, a total of 277,628 beneficiaries drawn from 56,575 businesses have now been paid.
“This total number includes the batch of 20,614 beneficiaries recently paid for October, and 257,014 beneficiaries that were paid for November and December.
“A breakdown of the 257,014 beneficiaries shows that N30, 000 each was paid to 222,466 beneficiaries as November and December payments while N50, 000 each was paid to 34,548 beneficiaries as November and December salaries.
“Out of the total number, three per cent are beneficiaries with special needs, while 43 per cent are female employees/beneficiaries.’’
Osinbajo said that the enumeration of prospective beneficiaries for the Transport Support Track, which was launched in Dec. 2020, was still ongoing.
According to him, payment of N30,000 each one-time grants to 333,000 artisans across the country is in progress with payments already made to verified beneficiaries in states under streams 1, 2, and 3.
He listed the states as FCT, Lagos, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Bauchi, Anambra, Abia, Plateau and Delta under stream 1.
Others are Taraba, Adamawa, Bayelsa, Edo, Ogun, Ekiti, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Enugu, and Ebonyi under stream 2.
Also, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Zamfara, Yobe, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Oyo, Osun, Jigawa, Gombe and Benue under stream 3.
The vice president said that the Solar Home System aimed at connecting five million households in off-grid and underserved communities to electricity was ongoing.
“The process of installing N140 billion Solar Home System that will cover up to five million households has begun and serve about 25 million individuals in rural areas and urban communities has begun with the enlistment of solar assembling companies and components manufacturers as well as solar servicing firms.
“Under the scheme, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will make available funds to private companies involved in the manufacture, installation, servicing of the solar systems, at rates ranging between five and 10 per cent.
“An important aspect of the scheme is the option of outright ownership by beneficiaries at a cost ranging from N1,500 per week to N4,000 monthly depending on the capacities, for a period of years.’’
He said that construction, under the Social Housing Prototype Units launched in FCT, was set to start in 12 states.
According to him, the plan by the Federal Government to support 1.5 million Nigerians to acquire low-cost houses Under the Social Housing programme of the ESP was on course.
He said that the portal for application by prospective beneficiaries was launched in December 2020 alongside the prototype 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom units.
More so, the vice president, held a virtual meeting with management of the North East Humanitarian and Innovation Hub (NEHIH).
Osinbajo pledged the support of the Federal Government and the National Economic Council (NEC) in the establishment of a Social Innovation and Research Institute (SIRI), an initiative of NEHIH aimed at developing skills and building capacity for social innovation.
The vice president said that the idea of establishing a centre for social innovation as conceived by the NEHIH was commendable.
“I don’t think there is enough attention being paid to the local needs of social innovation.
“ I really think that this proposed institute can do enough in terms of capacity building and leveraging on ideas, and also making a lot of the innovations relevant to our demands and needs here in Nigeria,” he said.
Other participants at the meeting included the coordinator of the Hub, Mr Ahmad Moddibo, the SIRI project coordinator at the hub, Nguveren Mary, among others.