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EXTREME POVERTY: World Bank advises Nigeria on ways to address menace

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The World Bank has advised Nigeria on what to do in order to address issues of its large number of citizens living in extreme poverty.

World Bank country director, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud, who gave the advice on Friday said that the court should scale up its social investment programmes if it must address the menace.

He spoke at the inauguration of the Africa Social Safety Nets Report by the National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office and World Bank.

According to Benmessaoud, it was not enough for Nigeria to be spending less than three per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on social investments.

He said that to fight against poverty, build human capital and spur economic growth, Nigeria must spend more of its GDP on social investments.

Noting that Nigeria has the full backing of the bank on its social investments programme, Benmessaoud said it was for that purpose the bank helped to establish a social registry containing legitimate names of poor households in parts of the country.

He added that the registry had assisted the federal and state governments to reach genuine vulnerable people through various intervention programmes like conditional cash transfers.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed refuted the Social Safety Nets report.

She said contrary to the report, Nigeria spends more than three per cent of GDP on social investments.

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She said that the report failed to take account of other social protection programmes such as pensions, health insurance and interventions that targets people living with disabilities.

“The report further reveals that West Africa has the highest number of Cash Transfer Programmes in Africa.

“The implication of this for us is that we must continue working towards a long-time solution to poverty as cash transfers cannot be sustained,” she said.

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