Coalition lauds President Buhari-led government’s investment in social protection 

By Philip Yatai

The Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition (KADSPAC) has commended President Buhari-led administration investment in social protection as a strategy to address multidimensional poverty among the population of the country.

The State Coordinator of the coalition, Ms Jessica Bartholomew, gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna on Friday.

NAN reports that social protection consists of policies and programmes designed to reduce poverty and vulnerability.

This is by promoting an efficient labour market, diminishing people’s exposure to risks, and enhancing their capacity to manage economic and social risks.

Bartholomew, while assessing the performance of President Buhari in the social protection sector, said he had laid a foundation for the incoming government to improve on, towards addressing poverty and vulnerability in the country.

She particularly commended Buhari for signing the National Social Investment Programme Agency Bill into law which she described as a “game changer”.

“This will not only ensure sustainability of social protection programmes but effective and efficient coordination of shock-responsive social protection intervention in the country.

“This will equally strengthen the utilisation of social protection as a tool to address multidimensional poverty,” she said.

She identified the key NSIP programmes as N-Power, designed to build the skills of youths and promote entrepreneurship as well as Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) which provides cash transfers to vulnerable households.

“There is also the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), an intervention to address the challenges of access to credit facilities and to provide soft loans to Nigerians.

“The programme was implemented through trader moni, market moni and farmer moni initiatives.

“Another notable programme is the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), initiated to provide one nutritious meal a day to public primary school pupils.

“The goal is to increase school enrolment and reduce the incidence of malnutrition among school children,” she said.

She noted that the programmes were laudable steps toward protecting the poor and vulnerable in the country from economic shocks and other adversities.

She, however, said that the implementation was marred with the challenges of accountability and transparency, responsible for the abysmal impact of the programme in addressing poverty.

The coordinator said that the 2022 Nigerian Multidimensional Poverty Index, which put the figure of people faced with multidimensional poverty at 133 million showed that much needed to be done.

“This means that the new administration needs to do more, particularly by initiating a graduation model for social protection programmes, to lift more people out of poverty and reap the benefits of social protection.

On his part, My Yusuf Goje, the Assistant Secretary of the coalition, commended President Buhari-led government for driving one of the most ambitious social investment programmes in the country.

Goje said that the huge investment that went into social protection’s system strengthening-policies and laws was commendable.

He, however, said that the investment performed poorly in moving people out of poverty and in increasing households’ income consumption.

Goje noted that the beneficiaries had been receiving monthly N5,000 stipends under the CCT programme, inflation, Naira devaluation and transportation cost.

According to him, this has eroded the purchasing power of the amount.

“This made it difficult for the N5,000 to pull people out of poverty,” he said.

Mr Simeon Olatude, immediate past Secretary, Open Government Partnership Technical Working Group on Strengthening Social Protection Systems in Kaduna State, equally lauded the Buhari-led government for the efforts to address poverty.

Olatunde stressed the need for the adoption of the co-creation, co-implementation and monitoring of social protection programmes between the government and citizens.

According to him, the step will strengthen transparency and accountability in the delivery of social protection programmes in the country. (NAN)