UNICEF reaffirms commitment to social protection policy in Nigeria

Ms. Temi Esteri Fet’era, Acting Head of Social Policy, UNICEF Nigeria, and Mr. Clem Agba, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, during the validation workshop of the draft National Social Policy social protection, Monday in Abuja.

By Collins Yakubu-Hammer

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reaffirmed its commitment to the effective implementation of the social protection policy in Nigeria.

Ms. Temi Esteri Fet’era, Acting Head of Social Policy at UNICEF Nigeria, made the commitment during the validation workshop of the draft National Social Protection Policy on Monday in Abuja.

The workshop, which attracted finance and budget commissioners from the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as well as other stakeholders, was hosted by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

According to Fet’era, UNICEF has been supporting the social protection policy since the policy was developed in 2012 “when we were advocating for Nigeria to have this policy.

“This is because social protection has always existed in Nigeria in one form or another, but it existed in a fragmented way, not well coordinated with a policy framework.

“Social protection is one of UNICEF’s core activities in Nigeria. Things have changed and there is a need to revalidate the policy to respond to current challenges and international best practices.

“Beyond the political storytelling, there is the implementation strategy on how we can go about it. Revalidation is a crucial step in any policy development.

“One of the things we have done beyond advocating for the policy framework in Nigeria has been supporting the capacity building of the technical working group.

“However, now is the time for us to look, revise and assess. We must be pragmatic and attentive to new data on poverty.

“UNICEF, as an advocate for children’s rights, will also encourage that in everything we do, the needs of children must be at the center of our concerns,” she said.

Fet’era, who is also co-lead of the International Development Partners Group on Social Protection, said Nigeria is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“You know, we have children facing all kinds of situations, like displaced people in some parts of the country, we have migrant children, some may not be Nigerian citizens but live in Nigeria.

“Some are victims of forced migration or refugees; we have to make sure that all their views and needs are taken into account in the policy,” Fet’era said.

Taking the floor, Mr. Clem Agba, Minister of State in charge of Budget and National Planning, said that the objective of the meeting was to enable stakeholders to validate the draft revised national social protection policy.

According to him, it was born out of the concerted efforts of all the stakeholders involved.

Agba, however, encouraged all stakeholders to make meaningful contributions to updating the objectives of the validation exercise to strengthen special protection programs in the country.

The minister stressed that the government is committed to spending more on social protection, not only to reduce poverty, but also to boost growth and strengthen empowerment.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the policy to be validated contains five chapters.

While the first chapter deals with the introduction and guidelines on social protection, chapter two looked at the overview.

Chapter three discussed the review of some social policy practices in Nigeria, chapter four talked about the prioritization of the policy in terms of strategies, objectives, short, medium and long term activities to achieve the objectives on the four pillars.

Chapter five examined the design of social protection policy.

NAN also reports that the event attracted officials from the Nigerian Governors Forum, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, among others. (NOPE) (www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Abubakar Ahmed/Muhammad Suleiman Tola

Joel C. Hicks