Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing, says the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration has reduced number of out of school children by over two million.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2018), Fashola said the administration, in 36 months, has also recorded 6.3 million new rice farmers.
The minister, who was speaking on transforming Nigeria’s urban agenda, at the London School of Economics and Political Science on Tuesday, said the government is providing jobs and opportunities in rural communities as part of ways to develop the area.
“I am happy to say here that President (Muhammadu) Buhari’s commitment to local agriculture development has provided a very useful anchor,” Fashola said.
“Today, not only are we producing more food than we were yesterday, especially food crops like rice and wheat, what has happened is that in less than thirty-six months, we now have a record of 6.3 million new rice farmers, and the emphasisis on the word, new. And they are in the rural areas.
“So those people are less likely, and the emphasis is on less likely, to leave to the cities. When food prices went up and government tried to intervene, and meet with the farmers to see what we could do about our food prices, one of the retorts we got is ‘leave us alone, we have lived on the margins of this society for a long time, now that our own prosperity has come, let the people in the urban centres deal with it, just buy the food at the price’.
“One of the titbits I got recently was that 60,000 of those farmers are going on Hajj pilgrimage with their own money, they used to be state funded. They are going to take their wives and their children. They are less likely to leave the farm.”
The 13th governor of Lagos state added that the social intervention programmes of the government have yielded results, particularly in the rural areas.
“Some of the social welfare programmes of the government, which you might have heard about — school feeding, N-Power — is also making some impact.
“I am happy to say that From 10 million plus children reported to be out of school, that number has reduced by two million. If we continue on that trajectory, we should wind down that big burden.
“The point to make here is that most of these things are happening around rural communities. That does not suggest that there are no problems around urban centres.”
Fashola said the government is running a pilot housing programme in 33 states of the federation, with the cultural and financial preferences of intended users at the heart of the project.