FG Reviews Social Protection Policy for Greater Benefits

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Clem Agba

By James Emejo

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba has said that relevant machinery has been put in motion towards the review of existing social protection policy which is expected to lapse in December.

He said efforts were ongoing with all relevant stakeholder MDAs to produce a revised National Social Protection Policy that will run from 2021-2025 before the end of the year.

Speaking at a high-level breakfast policy dialogue on the UN-joint fund for social protection to accelerate the implementation of Sustainable Development GOALS (SDGs) in Nigeria, the minister said the meeting with development partners and all relevant stakeholders on social protection will provide an opportunity to discuss the best option or strategy to move the scheme forward in the interest of all Nigerians.

He said the dialogue was not only timely but relevant to the priorities of the current administration to alleviate poverty through Buhari’s commitment to lift 100 million people out of poverty within the next 10 years.

Agba added that the deliberations will also consolidate a common approach for a productive collaboration that will enable the country achieve sustainable development goals(SDGs) since social protection remained a key strategic target for poverty eradication.

He said his ministry was in the process of mainstreaming social protection into the ongoing Medium Term National Development Plans (2021-2025) and Nigeria Vision 2050 adding that poverty reduction and achieving sustainable development required collaborative efforts of all MDAs.

According to him, a review of the social protection policy had commenced, as the National Assembly moves to provide a legal framework as well as institutionalise the scheme going forward.

Also speaking at the meeting, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hadjia Sadiya Umar Farouq, said social protection is currently at the forefront of the developmental agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari, given its positive social and economic impact and life cycle effects on human capital development.

She also proposed for the establishment of a social protection council to facilitate and coordinate policy, financing and legal framework for social protection in the country.

She said a social protection technical working group will also be required to conduct operational implementation of the social protection programmes as well as implement the decisions of the council.

Farouq further stressed the need for a joint coordination platform for social protection programmes to eliminate duplication of roles and conflicts of interest.

However, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon said a population census was long overdue for the country, faulting the continued reliance on estimates whose reliability constitute major concern for policy decisions.