Legislation on Social Protection Underway, Says Agba

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Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq at the high-level breakfast policy dialogue on social protection at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, on Tuesday

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, said that a draft legislation on Social Protection that would quicken the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria was underway.

Agba said that while the Ministry was in the process of reviewing the Social Protection Policy, “it is also pertinent to say that institutionalization and legislation of social protection by the National Assembly will commence as the review of the policy is progressing.

“The Ministry is ready to work collaboratively 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).

“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 disclosed these on Tuesday at a high-level breakfast policy dialogue on UN-Joint Fund for Social Protection to accelerate implementation of SDGs in the country, which he hosted in Abuja.

The National Planning arm of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and national Planning organised it in collaboration with Nigeria’s development partners particularly the four UN-Agencies that are implementing the joint UN- Support to social protection for fast-tracking the attainment of SDGs in Nigeria.

Agba commended the UN-Agencies, World Bank, DFID and all other development partners and INGOs, including Save the Children, for their continued support to the realisation of the objective of the Social Protection for poverty alleviation both at the national and sub national levels of Government.

He restated that the National Planning arm of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning was committed to coordinating policy and programmes across sectors to achieve the objective of institutionalising social protection in Nigeria.

He said the breakfast policy dialogue on social protection was not only timely but also relevant to the priorities of the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari whose determination was to alleviate poverty by all means by lifting 100 million people out of poverty within the next 10 years.

The minister tasked the gathering to consolidate a common approach for a productive collaboration that would enable Nigeria achieve SDGs since social protection was a key strategic target for poverty eradication in the “Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.”

He also stated that since programmes in social protection cut across the mandates of different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the Ministry of Budget and National Planning in 2017 coordinated the development of a National Social Protection Policy, which provided the framework for addressing poverty, unemployment, social and economic vulnerabilities, inequality and exclusion and other threats to sustainable development.

According to him, “The Social Protection Policy provides framework for policies and programmes designed to reduce poverty and inequality in the Country.”

He said that the implementation of the current Social Protection Policy would terminate in 2020, pointing out that the “President, in his strive to accelerate response to protections arising from emergencies, created the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to anchor some critical aspects of social protection.

“Therefore, with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs implementing National Social Investment Programme, including N-Power, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), Home Grown School Feeding, etc, other sectors such as Ministry of Labour are also driving the social security which is also a component of Social Protection that falls within her mandate.

“With the Federal Ministry of Health anchoring National Health Insurance Scheme, other MDAs also implement Social Protection programmes that are relevant to their various mandate. With this laudable initiative, the Government of Nigeria is on the right trajectory to use Social Protection for poverty alleviation, economic growth and sustainable development.”

Agba said that because the existing policy was 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.”

He informed the gathering that there was no better time to hold the policy dialogue than now that the Ministry was in the process of mainstreaming social protection into the ongoing Medium-Term National Development Plans (2021-2025 & 2026-2030) and a long-term perspective plan which is Nigeria Vision 2050.

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