By Danladi Al-Hassan
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concerns over the inability of the Nigerian elites to address the welfare and educational needs of the less-privileged members of the society.
The president made his feelings known when he hosted Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, ministers, service chiefs, heads of security agencies and chief executives of Federal Government agencies and institutions to a Iftar (breaking of fast) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
President Buhari said he was upset with the level of poverty in the land. He challenged the elite to do something very urgent to ameliorate the pathetic situation.
He stated that already the federal government had introduced people friendly programmes like the school feeding and `Trader Money’ to alleviate the hardship being experienced by the less-privileged individuals across the country.
He, therefore, commended the vice president for successfully managing the school feeding and `trader money’ programmes
“When I drive around the country what upset me very much is the status of our poor people in this country – you see young people, the so-called Almajiris with tore dresses, with plastic bowl. They are looking basically for what to eat.
“The question of education (to them) is a luxury. I think Nigerian elite we are all failing because I think we should have a programme that will at least guarantee some basic education for our people no matter how poor they are.
“So, I welcome the vice president for initiating the school feeding programme. If you check in your localities the enrolment into schools improved because a lot of children can get at least one good meal a day. This is the position of this country.
“But, culturally some of us are quite merciless, we don’t care about what happen to others we just keep on moving forward.
The president also talked about the reason behind the “Tradermoni”, social intervention programme.
“This `market moni,’ I warned the vice president, I don’t like him to be mobbed, especially the way I see hefty women coming and confronting him, he should be very careful.
“These are very good initiatives. Initially, I was quite reluctant but I must admit that they are very good programmes and they endear this government to a lot of poor people because of these N5,000 or N10,000 being given to them as loans.
“They are fantastic programmes and I have to admit quite honestly that the vice president was ahead of me by insisting on them.
“But he knows me, if he insists I will say `okay go and do what you like.’ He did it and I’m very pleased as he is being very successful,’’ he said.
Vice President Osinbajo, who spoke on behalf of the members of the cabinet, thanked the president for inviting them, both Muslims and Christians, to the breaking of fast with him.
He said that regardless of ethnic and religion affiliations, Nigerians must continue to be their brothers’ keepers and must work towards building a united nation.
He, however, condemned some politicians, who were bent on dividing the people along ethno-religious lines.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that those who joined the president for the fast-breaking meal known as Iftar, included some heads of federal government agencies and institutions.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; the Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, Yakubu Ibn Muhammed and the Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Abdullahi Mukhtar, were among the dignitaries at the event.