The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has restated its commitment to the effective review and implementation of the National Social Protection Policy in Nigeria.

Ms Temi Esteri Fet’era, the Acting Chief, Social Policy, UNICEF Nigeria, made the commitment at the Validation Workshop on the Draft National Social Protection Policy on Monday in Abuja.

The workshop, which attracted Commissioners of Finance and Budget from the 36 states of the federation and FCT as well as other stakeholders was put together by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

According to Fet’era, UNICEF has been supporting the National Social Protection Policy since discussions about the policy development process commenced earnestly around 2012 and peaked in 2015.

“This is because social protection has always been existing in Nigeria in some form, but it existed in an adhoc and fragmented way, not well coordinated within a policy framework.

“Social protection system strengthening is one of the core works of UNICEF in Nigeria. Things have changed between 2017 and now when the National Social Protection Policy was formally approved and there is need to revise and revalidate the policy to meet up with the current challenges and international best practice.

“Policy validation is a critical step in any policy development process. Beyond validating the policy narration, the implementation strategy and the costed action plan are next steps.

“One of the things we did beyond advocating for and supporting the development of the policy framework in Nigeria was to support the formation and recapacitating of the technical working group comprising key social protection coordinating and implementing Ministries, Departments and Agencies and other key stakeholders at federal and state levels.

“As we revise, inform and strengthen the policy narration, we need to balance our ambitions with being pragmatic, and also take into account emerging issues and the new evidence on poverty, particularly child poverty.

“UNICEF as advocates of the rights of children will also encourage that in everything we are doing, children’s rights, needs and wellbeing need to be in focus.,’’ she said.

Fet’era, representing UNICEF as the Co-Lead of the International Development Partners Group on Social Protection in Nigeria, said that Nigeria was a signatory of the UN Convention on the rights of the child.

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

“We need to ensure that the views and needs of children in Nigeria are factored into the policy,’’ Fet’era said.

Speaking, Mr Clem Agba, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, said the purpose of the gathering was for the stakeholders to validate the drafted revised National Social Protection Policy.

According to him, it emerged from the concerted efforts of all relevant stakeholders.

Agba, however, encouraged all stakeholders to make meaningful contributions towards the actualisation of the objectives of the validation exercise in order to strengthen the special protection programmes in the country.

The minister stressed that government was determined to spend more on social protection, not only to reduce poverty but to stimulate growth and enhance empowerment.

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

While chapter one deals with Introduction and Guidelines on Social Protection, Chapter two looked at the overview.

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

Chapter five looked at the arrangement of the Social Protection Policy.

NAN also reports that the event attracted officials from Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, among others. 

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