FG, Stakeholders Reaffirm Commitment To Institutionalizing Social Protection In Nigeria

Clem Agba
Caption:(L-R) The Permanent Secretary, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Olusola Idowu, Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon and the UNICEF Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Rush Murtaza, at the high- level breakfast policy dialogue on strengthening institutional framework for Social Protection, in Abuja.

The Federal Government and relevant stakeholders on Social Protection have re-affirmed their commitment towards institutionalizing social policy and programmes through institutional strengthening and framework for Social Protection in Nigeria.

The commitment was made in Abuja, during a breakfast Dialogue on National Social Protection Plan and Programmes in Nigeria organized by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in collaboration with UNICEF and other development partners. The dialogue was aimed at bringing all relevant stakeholders to a roundtable discussion on reducing poverty and inequality in the Country.

Speaking at the occasion, the Honourable Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, stated that one of the focuses of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was to alleviate poverty by all means, coupled with his determination to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years.

“This breakfast dialogue on Social protection is not only timely but relevant to the priorities of the Government of Nigeria led by President Muhammadu Buhari”

According to Agba, “this gathering on Social Protection will no doubt provide an opportunity to discuss the best option or strategy to move social protection forward, in the interest of the entire population”.

“It will also consolidate a common approach for a productive collaboration that will enable Nigeria achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since Social protection is a key strategic target for poverty eradication in the Social Development Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.” He emphasized.

The Minister further underscored the fact that with the implementation of the current Social Protection policy that would terminate in 2020, the President in his strive to accelerate response to protection arising from emergencies, created the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, to anchor some critical aspects of social protection.

With the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, implementing National Social Investment Programme including N-Power, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), Home Grown School Feeding; other sectors, such as, Ministry of Labour, were also driving the Social Security which was also a component of Social Protection that fell within their mandates. With the Federal Ministry of Health anchoring National Health Insurance Scheme, other MDAs also implemented Social Protection programmes which were relevant to their various mandates.

“With this laudable initiative, the Government of Nigeria is on the right trajectory to use Social Protection for poverty alleviation, economic growth and sustainable development.” He maintained.

Agba revealed that while the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning was in the process of reviewing the Social Protection Policy, it was also pertinent to say that institutionalization and legislation of social protection by the National Assembly would commence as the review of the policy was progressing.

He added that the Ministry was ready to work collaboratively with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and other relevant sectors including UN Agencies and other development partners to develop a robust draft Bill on Social Protection for passage by the National Assembly (NASS).

“ All these and other critical steps towards the promotion of Social Protection will enable the Government to maximize the utilization of resources in the UN-Joint support for Social Protection to accelerate SDGs achievement in Nigeria.”

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Olusola Idowu, said that the event was aimed at bringing together all relevant stakeholders in social protection to discuss ways of achieving the objective of social policy and programme through institutional strengthening and framework for social protection in Nigeria, as well as a platform to share experiences and ideas in the area of social protection, social inclusiveness, inequality and poverty reduction.

Also speaking, the UNICEF Deputy Representative, Rushnan Murtaza, pointed out that the main purpose of the meeting was for Social Protection policy to ensure that every child lived in a household that had sufficient financial resources to develop and fulfil their potentials as well as access to quality basic services and the knowledge needed for development, regardless of income or personal characteristics.

Victoria Agba-Attah,

Director, Information (BNP)