…Says It Can Lift 500,000 People Out Of Poverty In Five Years

By Wole Adedeji, Ilorin

The Nigerian Armed Forces Command and Staff College, AFCSC, Jaji, has commended the Kwara State government for its Social Investment Programme, KWASSIP, saying that it can alone lift not less than 500,000 people out of the poverty net.

This feat, according to the AFCSC, could be achievable in less than five years.

AFCSC Group 5 of the ‘Exercise Nigeria Study Tour’ made the recommendation in its report, written after its visit to Kwara State in 2021, dwelling on the links between Socio Economic Development, SED, and national security, with a special focus on the state.

Commending the state government for introducing the safety net programme, which it observed has had positive impacts on the citizens, the report recommended that it be expanded to benefit more people, especially the youths.

Recall that KWASSIP was launched in 2020 by the state government to support petty traders and the vulnerables as well as to elevate many Kwara indigenes from poverty.

The report had stated that “KWASSIP also provided interest-free loans to private school owners during the COVID-19 school closure. Additionally, since the launch of the scheme in 2020, about 60,000 people have benefited from the programme.

“Most of the beneficiaries were discovered to be youth. These account for about four percent of the working population representing about 13.6 per cent of the total population of the state. This development is commendable; therefore, Kwara State government could expand the programme to cover a wider population of the labour force.

“It is projected that if properly sustained, the programme could lift about 500,000 low-income earners out of poverty within the next five years. This programme, if sustained, could improve SED in Kwara State and by extension, enhance national security.”

The report also encouraged the government to support more private businesses to thrive in the state, especially those in the agricultural value chains, because of the comparative advantage of Kwara with its rich arable land.

It said that the state could also strike a deal with the Bank of Industry, BoI, to provide assets finance for some of the startups, particularly those that require equipment and expansion.

Forwarded to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq by AFCSC Commandant, Air Vice Marshal OA Tuwase, the report of the ‘Exercise Nigeria Study Tour 2021’ comes as KWASSIP last week announced an ambitious plan to support additional 100,000 artisans, farmers, and businesses owned by young people with grants/loans.

Last year, the initiative supported 170 startups, owned by under-35s with non-interest loans of between N250,000 and N3m apiece.

KWASSIP, established by the state governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, via a legislation by the House of Assembly, is said to be the largest safety net programme by any sub-national state in Nigeria.

No fewer than 10,000 poor and vulnerable senior citizens also get paid stipends to support themselves every other two months in the state, according to the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaiye.

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