The Supervising Minister of National Planning, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda has said that the Federal Government plans to deliver a national social protection policy will help to reduce poverty, inequality and promote inclusive growth in the country.
Ambassador Yuguda stated this in Abuja, Tuesday, February 18th, 2014, at the validation workshop for stakeholders on the draft National Social Protection Policy Framework.
National Planning Commission in close collaboration with the UNICEF Nigeria, is coordinating the development of the policy framework, as part of its mandate of development of national plans for development.
The workshop is one of the series of consultative processes with key stakeholders involved in the developmental stage of the draft policy to validate the framework for the country.
The Minister also stated that, through the policy, the Federal Government will step up efforts to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor and also put in place mechanisms that will cater for the vulnerable to promote inclusive growth and development in Nigeria.
“Social protection has been concerned with preventing, managing, and overcoming situations that adversely affect people’s well being and that, these concerns consist of policies and programs designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability”; he said.
While explaining further, Amb. Yuguda said that under the Social protection policy framework for Africa, to which Nigeria is a signatory, countries are encouraged to choose the coverage, extension, strategies and combination of tools most appropriate to address vulnerability and exclusion and provide a platform for equity within their peculiar environment.
Accordingly, he mentioned the several attempts made by Nigeria at providing national social security through many dimensions which include National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Community Based Health Insurance Scheme (CBHIS) SURE-P, ETF, UBE etc.
The Minister, then pointed out the need to upscale actions and efforts in this regard in view of the commitment to social protection in the Nigerian Vision 20: 2020, First National Implementation Plan (NIP) and the Transformation Agenda of the Current Administration.
The Secretary to the Commission, Ntufam Fidelis Ugbo also spoke in the same vein, explaining the efforts of the Government at providing national social security, saying that the present administration attaches importance to issues of social protection and safety nets which according to him is expressed in both the vision 2020 documents and the Transformation Agenda of the present administration.
He said that the workshop provides a veritable platform to contribute to and also add value to the Nigerian Social protection policy, and described the process as the only way that would make the policy, a truly National Social Protection Policy.
The UNICEF representative, Jean Gough in her Goodwill Message congratulated the Federal Republic of Nigeria for its initiative in convening the workshop to validate such an important document which is vital in an effort to develop a cohesive and strong social foundation for inclusive and sustainable economic development in a longer run as prescribed in Vision 20 2020 document and most importantly in the Constitution on social protection.
According to her, the process started since 2011 with the commissioning of two studies on the impact of the global crisis on women and children and social protection diagnostics.
She described Nigeria as a diverse country; oil rich with varying regional disparity in the achievements against the MDG indicators on poverty, hunger, health and educations, capturing the development divide.
The UNICEF’s Envoy also added that, the fragmentation in approaches to social protection in Nigeria, was as a result of the peculiar development landscape, together with different cultural trajectory and the 36 states with different context.
Accordingly, she said, the recent global financial crisis and the ensuring widespread economic and social distress, have created massive job losses, declining income security and increasing poverty from about 54% in 2004 to over 60% in 2010 according to NBS data, this, she deduced that, has once again placed social protection at the centre of policy agenda and debates globally.
Gough concluded that, there is certainly evidence within Africa and Latin America to support the view that well-designed and cost-effective social protection is indeed critical for the achievement of the MDGs.
She listed out some lessons from the works of many agencies and literatures of work done by the UN and the World Bank to include; the Public works programmes, Policies against discrimination ensure that women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities have equal access to basic service and employment, and other Social protection programmes that will help to get and keep children in schools and clinics.