Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has flagged-off Imo-CARES, the state’s version of the Federal Government’s NG-CARES programme meant to cushion the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the citizens.
It was another laudable effort by Governor Uzodimma to attend to the needs of the poor and vulnerable in Imo State and more importantly, to deal with the scourge of poverty in their midst.
Flagging-off the NG-CARES programme on Monday at the Ahiajoku Convention Centre Owerri he charged the people to take advantage of the training and support that would follow to defeat the devastating poverty which Covid-19 pandemic had left in our society.
“Today’s programme is a historic milestone in the efforts of the world community, the federal government and the state government, to holistically address the devastating socio-economic effects of COVID 19, which has created a colony of a new poor in our country and indeed the world. This is a salutary programme that will sooner than later erase the devastation on the economy of the poor and vulnerable occasioned by COVID 19,” the Governor said.
Governor Uzodimma lauded the federal government, under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, “for its unwavering resolve to better the lives of Nigerians, particularly the less privileged, saying “this has been demonstrated time and time again through the various laudable intervention programmes of the federal government.”
Governor Uzodimma added: “NG- CARES programme is therefore another manifestation of the government’s genuine concern for the less privileged. I must at this juncture, commend the World Bank for their support to Federal Government and indeed NG-CARES.
“It is self-evident that the devastating effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s economy has forced many countries to restrategise on how best to save their populace from hunger and disease which are the direct consequences of the pandemic.”
He said Imo State being part of the global community is not immune from those challenges, “hence today’s ceremony which marks the official flag-off of the state wide training and sensitization programme on Covid-19 Action Recovery Economic Stimulus (CARES).”
He said the programme was fashioned to mitigate the local effects of COVID-19 pandemic on existing and newly poor and vulnerable households in Imo state and that it is “envisaged that within the next 18 to 24 months, the objectives of the programme would have been realized.”
“The project development objective is to ensure food security and safe function of food supply chains in the 27 local government areas of the state. This will involve three component parts, namely, distribution of inputs and service provision including seeds and fertilizer and livestock inputs and extension services.
“It will also require agricultural assets for production and mitigation of food losses as well as upgrading water and sanitation in the markets.
“The state government working with World Bank approved guildelines is driving the process. This training programme is only but the beginning and that is why those who are involved must take it more than serious.”
Governor Uzodimma said government shall tackle the NG-CARES programme with the same zeal employed in fighting the pandemic itself, noting “You can recall that the Covid 19 pandemic almost welcomed us into the office and through proactive measures and single-minded determination; we have been able to discharge our responsibility to Imo people.”
He said it is reassuring that the NG-CARES programme is intended to assist the poor and vulnerable in our society.
His words: “That is also at the core of the shared prosperity agenda of this administration. Since last year, we have evolved several policies to help alleviate poverty in the state. Apart from ensuring that verified Civil Servants and Pensioners are paid promptly, we have gone ahead to rehabilitate critical infrastructure including industries to provide jobs for our people.
“Just last Saturday, we empowered 15,000 youths with Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand naira each to set up businesses of their own. Before then, women and other youths were similarly trained and empowered as a means of chasing poverty away from our state.
“Again as a means of stimulating our economy, we are building roads across the state so that our rural areas would be accessible and the inhabitants can move their agricultural produce with ease to the urban areas.
“We have also created the enabling environment for the flourishing of small and medium scale enterprises in our state as a means of eradicating poverty.
“In this regard, the NG-CARES programme will complement our efforts to boost the economy of the state. Because this is a training and sensitization programme, those in charge should evolve innovative ideas that resonate with the ambition of our people to even swim out of poverty on their own. We should never forget who we are.
“We are resilient and industrious people who have the can-do spirit to overcome any challenge. All we just need is a little push from government to excel. That little push is available to all that sincerely require it. We shall continue to play our part to ensure the success of the programme so that together we should surmount the effect of Covid 19 just as we are overcoming the disease itself.”
Earlier in her address, the State Focal person and Commissioner for Finance and Co-coordinating Economy, Dr. Mrs. Doris Uzoka-Anite thanked the Governor for approving NG-CARES in Imo State as well as creating an enabling environment for them.
Dr. Uzoka informed that the flagging-off of the State-wide training and sensitization programme is another milestone achievement after the Statewide Empowerment Programme held on Saturday, June 26, 2021 when Governor Uzodimma empowered 15,000 Imo youths with the sum of N250, 000 each to help them become employers of labour in the nearest future.
The commissioner for Finance further emphasized that the NG-CARES is a World Bank programme designed to ameliorate the sufferings of the vulnerable in the State which will run for two years, noting that each State will receive $20million at first stage and when optimally applied another $20million will be added.