It is about two years after the whole world was thrown into pandemonium as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global health emergency that has wreaked havoc and inflicted far-reaching consequences on the economy, basic services, food security and overall social prosperity and livelihood of the people; the effects that we are yet to fully recover from.
As the governor worriedly noted, “We saw global economies enter recessions, livelihoods disrupted and millions of jobs lost in an unprecedented manner with recovery just beginning, this makes the GO-CARES programme not only timely but essential. The Challenges of Covid-19 and the global economic meltdown have certainly made us more strategic and focused in our development drive”.
In Gombe State, like in other states of Nigeria, the pandemic led to the closure of many MSEs, loss of jobs, and stalled provision of basic services in poor communities thereby increasing the population of those living below the poverty line.
In his efforts to cushion these adverse effects in the Jewel state, the governor has leveraged the available opportunities, upturning the fortune of Gombe State by improving its human capital base, thereby taking the state back on track for economic recovery and development.
As an accountant and a fulfilled businessman with enormous experience in the private sector, Governor Inuwa happened to be among the few state governors that subscribed to the Federal Government’s Economic Sustainability Plan, the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus, NG-CARES and domesticated the programme to support his people in responding to the COVID‐19 crisis by restoring the livelihoods and food security of poor and vulnerable households and promoting recovery of Medium and Small Enterprises (MSEs) in the state.
In line with the provision of the good policies of the APC-led Administration, as encapsulated in the 10-Year Development Plan of Gombe State which is in consonance with the Sustainable Development Goals No.1 of the United Nations aimed at eradicating poverty by the year 2030, Governor Inuwa formally launched Gombe State Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus, GO-CARES project in July 2022.
More than 8.5 billion Naira was budgeted to support 288,700 households, farmers, small scale businesses across the nooks and crannies of the state, and since the formal flag-off, the beneficiaries of different packages of the programme have been receiving their interventions through livelihood grants, social transfers among others.
From this amount, N3.4 billion was allotted to supporting poor and vulnerable households with grants and basic services to improve their living standard and reduce the effects of COVID-19 on them.
Another N3.4 billion was allocated to support farmers with farm inputs to increase food production and enhance the performance of the food supply value chain thereby strengthening food security in the state. Under this category, hundreds of farmers have collected bags of fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, hybrid seeds, and other farm inputs free of charge.
More so, the sum of N1.7 billion was disbursed as grants to MSMEs to support their operational activities and help them recover from the huge losses suffered during the pandemic.
To ensure equitable distribution of the beneficiaries across all regions of the state, In each of the 2988 polling units of the state, a good number of men and women received 30,000 and 20,000 Naira respectively; totaling about 24,820 beneficiaries.
Another set of 1000 youths comprising young men and women also benefited from GO-CARES facilities relating to their vocations. Facilities that include Laptop computer systems, P.O.S Devices, and Solar facilities among others.
In another sub-programme, GO-CARES assisted about 62,876 people with 10,000 Naira each every month for 2 years uninterruptedly under Labour Intensive Public Work (LIPW) package to improve resilience and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the livelihood of the especially common man.
Recently, Governor Inuwa Yahaya approved the disbursement of the sum of 450 million Naira for Go-Cares, where 9,000 beneficiaries cashed out 50 thousand naira each across all the wards of the 11 LGAs of Gombe State.
These huge interventions are meant to improve access to basic services to support economic recovery, boost food production and enhance the livelihood of the people in the post-COVID era.
The launch and implementation of the Gombe GO-CARES by Governor Inuwa is just a consolidation of the long list of social and economic interventions already embarked upon by the Gombe State Government. The Inuwa-led Administration has consistently placed a premium on human capital development; perhaps with a clear understanding that people without a financial opportunity for economic growth may just be a perfect recipe for catastrophe and disaster.
But, with GO-CARES, among other good policies and programs, Gombe State has become a model in human capital development accelerating more and better investment in people for greater equity, economic growth, and prosperity.
Written by Safiyanu Danladi Mairiga from Gombe state