By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The FederaI Government is proposing a legislation aimed at tackling the high rate of poverty in the country, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba has announced.
According to him, the ministry of Budget and National Planning has commenced the review of the Social Protection Policy, while institutionalization and legislation of social protection by the National Assembly will commence as the review of the policy is progressing.
Prince Agba stated this in Abuja on Tuesday at a Breakfast Dialogue on Social Protection, organised by the ministry in collaboration with the four UN-Agencies implementing the joint UN- Support to social protection for accelerating the achievement of SDGs in Nigeria.
The Minister said his ministry is ready to collaborate 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).
He disclosed that while the existing policy is expected to lapse in December, 2020, the Ministry in collaboration with all relevant stakeholder MDAs had commenced the process of the review of the current National Social Protection Policy by setting up an inter-ministerial stakeholder’s technical working committee (TWG) “which also include our development partners to produce a revised National Social Protection Policy that will run from 2021-2025 before the end of year 2020”.
“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”, he said.
Minister who commended UN- Agencies, and other Development Partners for their support and commitment to Social Protection “as a tool to addressing poverty and protect the vulnerable population”, noted that “our partnership will continue to bring positive results as we progress in the development of the country”.
He restated the commitment of the National Planning arm of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to coordinating policy and programmes across sectors to achieve the objective of institutionalizing Social Protection in Nigeria.
According to him, “there is no better time to hold this meeting than now that the Ministry is in the process of mainstreaming Social Protection into the ongoing Medium Term National Development Plans (2021-2025) and a long term perspective plan which is Nigeria Vision 2050”.
“As we are all aware, reduction of poverty and articulation of the priorities of Government towards sustainable development requires the collaborative efforts”
“As we may be aware, the Ministry has the mandate to coordinate policies and plan of the Government as encapsulated in Chapter 66, Act 71 of 1993 that established the National Planning Commission with emphasis on Cap C23 of the Act as to ‘provide a national focal point for the coordination and formulation of national policies and programmes”, he added.
In her remarks, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Mrs Sadiya Umar Faruk proposed the establishment of Social Protection Council to as a platform to tackle the growing social inequality in the coutry.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Permanent in the Budget and Planning Ministry, Mrs Olusola Idowu said the aim of the dialogue was to bring together all stakeholders to find a way of addressing the issue of poverty in the country.
In his goodwill message, the UNICEF Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Rushnan Murtaza said it was regretable that “we live in a world where over 350 million children are struggling on less than $1.90 a day and there are significant child poverty rates even in the world’s richest countries.
According to him, “Nigeria is no exception. Nearly half (52.1%) of the population live below the national poverty line (of roughly 377 naira per day) with significant geographic disparities.
Around 53 per cent (53.9%) of Nigerian children live in multidimensional poverty – and
some states range from 85 – 90%, where children are suffering from deprivations concerning health, nutrition, education, sanitation, water and shelter.
“This leaves children and families facing financial barriers which can make accessing quality services impossible. This is devastating for the children themselves, and has knock-on effects for the societies and economies to which they belong.
“But all is not loss. The countries like Nigeria that are expanding coverage are demonstrating what is possible, and the inclusion of social protection in the SDGs and
the international partnership for Universal Social Protection 2030 underlines growing”, he added.