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How Presidential Trust Fund can address poverty in Nigeria

Addressing the multifaceted challenges of poverty and humanitarian crises in Nigeria requires a deliberate and coordinated approach in deploying both strategies and resources.

It is in this light that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, recently unveiled plans for a novel initiative- the Presidential Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation Trust Fund.

This initiative is poised to reshape the nation’s strategy for poverty reduction and humanitarian response.

With Nigeria embarking on this visionary initiative, observers believe it is a proactive stance in tackling two of the nation’s most pressing issues – poverty and humanitarian crises. This unified approach through the Presidential Trust Fund, represents a departure from previous fragmented efforts and is seen as a potential game-changer in the fight against poverty.

Critics, however, question the practicality of sourcing funds from diverse channels, including taxes and corporate contributions. They argue that while the commitment is commendable, ensuring transparent and efficient utilization of these resources will be a critical challenge.

The Urgent Need for Change

A nation with a population exceeding 200 million is grappling with various levels of poverty and humanitarian emergencies. This situation, exacerbated by factors such as insecurity, flooding and other natural disasters, which have pushed at least 16 million Nigerians into a state of humanitarian needs.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, 84 million Nigerians find themselves ensnared in extreme poverty, struggling daily to subsist on less than $1.9 per day. In a broader context, a staggering 133 million individuals, constituting a substantial 63 percent of the nation’s populace, grapple with multidimensional poverty, highlighting the profound nature of this crisis.

Edu acknowledges the urgency of comprehensively addressing these crises. She emphasizes that Nigeria needs both technical expertise and financial resources to effectively respond to these pressing challenges.

“First, we would need substantial technical assistance to establish a baseline, set the agenda, and develop programs and projects that can be implemented to lift people out of poverty while addressing humanitarian needs.

“Secondly, we would also require significant financial support to back these programs, support processes, and aid in their implementation. It all begins with one of the innovations we want to introduce, which is the Presidential Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation Trust Fund,” she said.

The launch of the Presidential Trust Fund marks a significant turning point in the country’s efforts to combat these problems head-on.

A Unified Approach to Alleviating Suffering

The core premise of the Presidential Trust Fund is to consolidate financial contributions from various sources, including the government, private sector, and donor agencies, into a single, coordinated effort to combat poverty and respond to humanitarian needs. This approach aims to streamline funding mechanisms and eliminate bureaucratic obstacles that have hindered progress in the past.

Edu explains, “We need to engage in robust resource mobilization, bringing together funding into one pool that will be used to address both humanitarian crises and poverty alleviation programs and projects.”

Government Commitment and Private Sector Engagement

The Trust Fund signifies a commitment from the Nigerian government to allocate its resources, including budgetary allocations and special intervention funds to support this transformative initiative.

She explained that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope agenda’ led to the renaming of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, with a direct focus on uplifting the people from poverty.

“The Ministry is preparing to host the Humanitarian Dialogue, as well as establish the Renewed Hope Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation Trust Fund (HPATF). Furthermore, the government intends to offer tax incentives to private sector partners who choose to support the Trust Fund as part of their corporate social responsibility. This strategy encourages businesses to actively participate in the nation’s fight against poverty and humanitarian crises,” the minister said.

Global Collaborations and Diverse Funding Sources

Meanwhile, Edu has outlined a comprehensive approach to secure financial backing for the Trust Fund. This includes active engagement with development partners, donor agencies, and the international community. Additionally, taxes generated from specific commodities, such as sugar, will be earmarked to support humanitarian responses and poverty alleviation efforts.

“We can also seek support from foundations and individuals in the Middle East who are willing to support the country in this endeavour. This reflects the government’s determination to explore diverse funding sources to tackle these complex issues effectively,” she said.

Nigeria’s determination to combat poverty and address humanitarian crises has gained international support, further strengthening its efforts. Greece, through its ambassador, Mr. Ioannis Plotas, has expressed a readiness to stand by Nigeria in this endeavour.

Plotas expressed Greece’s willingness to contribute, whether financially or through the provision of essential materials to alleviate poverty and support humanitarian efforts.

Greece’s recognition of the challenges faced by millions of Nigerians underscores the global nature of these issues. Their commitment to partner with Nigeria is a testament to the country’s resolve to make a difference.

Similarly, the Government of the Netherlands has entered into a partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria to combat youth migration and alleviate economic hardships. During a courtesy visit by the Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Wouter Plomp, in Abuja, the collaboration was highlighted as a crucial step to harness the potential of young minds, provide employment opportunities, and prevent the loss of Nigerian lives during dangerous migration attempts.

The Netherlands’ active engagement in skill-training projects and exploration of legal pathways for circular migration demonstrates its commitment to addressing Nigeria’s challenges and improving the lives of its young people.

These global collaborations showcase the willingness of nations to work together in support of Nigeria’s goals.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: A Prominent Partner

During an interaction with the Country Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Jeremie Zoungrana, Edu secured a pledge of support for the initiative. Zoungrana commended the minister’s proactive approach and affirmed the foundation’s readiness to collaborate with Nigeria in its mission to eradicate poverty.

“We want to ensure that everyone leads a productive and healthy life, and in terms of health fees, when you are not healthy, you cannot be productive, and when you are not productive, you end up in poverty,” Zoungrana emphasized. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is already deeply involved in various health-related programs in Nigeria, aligning closely with the broader goals of Minister Edu’s mission.

Nigeria is not alone in this endeavour. With the commitment of Greece, ready to provide financial and material support to alleviate poverty and enhance humanitarian efforts, and the strategic partnership with the Netherlands, aiming to combat youth migration and enhance economic opportunities, the nation stands on the cusp of a significant turning point.

These international collaborations exemplify the collective will to address Nigeria’s complex challenges head-on. While critics may raise questions, the determination to transparently utilize diverse funding sources and international support signals a bold step toward progress.

The coming months and years of President Bola Tinubu’s administration will be closely observed as these initiatives take shape, with Nigerians watching and hoping for the transformation that will lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty and mitigate the suffering caused by humanitarian crises.

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