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Social Protection, Veritable Tool For Poverty Eradication

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The Civil Society Leaders Forum on Social Protection and Sustainable Development formerly known as Civil Society Leaders Forum on Social Protection has touted social protection as the most sustainable tool to tackle poverty in Nigeria and on the continent.

The forum, made up of civil society leaders committed to social protection for citizens in Nigeria, was formed to articulate and project the wishes, voices and aspirations of citizens and citizen groups in formulating, implementing and evaluating social protection programmes. The group’s approach to work is anchored on the principles of co-creation and partnership between government and citizens promoted by the open government partnership (OGP) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In a communique issued after the CSO Leaders Forum on Social Protection and Sustainable Development held on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Abuja, the group emphasised that social protection is globally recognised as a potent tool to alleviate poverty. However, Nigeria has yet to fully capitalise on the implementation of a comprehensive social protection program.

The forum, consisting of civil society leaders from over 20 organisations, including the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Women Advocates, Research and Documentation Centre (WARD C), African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), amongst others, expressed several concerns and made recommendations to address them.

Observations made by the forum include:

  1. Commendation for the efforts of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led government in providing palliatives to alleviate poverty among Nigerians.
  2. Disappointment over the consistent decline of the nation’s social protection programmes across successive administrations.
  3. High levels of poverty and inequality reflected in Nigeria’s low ranking on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI).
  4. Concerns regarding discrepancies in the social protection register and lack of action by relevant authorities to address them.
  5. Lack of public knowledge on the status of the implementation of social protection programs following the suspension of key officials.

Recommendations made by the forum include:

  1. Urgent resuscitation and sustained efforts to alleviate poverty and uplift millions of Nigerians from abject suffering.
  2. Full resumption of implementation of social protection programmes introduced by successive governments.
  3. Government intervention to improve Nigeria’s social protection programme ratings.
  4. Addressing public concerns regarding the credibility of the social register by cleaning and updating it to accurately reflect those in need.
  5. Strengthening and coordinating Nigeria’s fragmented social protection programmes across various government agencies for better efficiency and effectiveness.

The CSO Leaders Forum on Social Protection and Sustainable Development emphasised the critical role of social protection policies and programmes in combating poverty. It urged the government to prioritise and continue implementing these programmess, especially given the current poverty rates in the country. The forum expressed its commitment to engaging with government institutions to provide evidence-based information necessary for effective poverty reduction strategies.

The communique was signed by Leo Atakpu of the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice, Emmanuela Azu of the Women Advocates, Research and Documentation Centre, Lawal Amodu of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development, Funmi Akinyele of the Food Basket Foundation Nigeria, Rommy Mom of Lawyers Alert, Otive Igbuzor of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development, Nelson Nwafor of Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, Tijani Abdulkareem of Socio-Economic Research & Development Centre (SERDEC), David Anyaele of Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, Y. Z Ya’U of Centre for Technology and Development, Faith Nwadishi of Centre for Transparency Advocacy, Egedegbe Edewor of Value Rebirth and Empowerment Initiative, Idris Miliki of Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, Obialunanma Nnaobi-Ayodele of the Meluibe Foundation and Betram Ubaka of Persons With Disabilities Action Network (PEDANET).

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