Gov. El-Rufai laments, says Nigeria has highest number of poor people globally

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Governor Nasir El-Rufai

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai on Tuesday launched the State Social Protection Policy, lamenting that, Nigeria has the highest number of poor people among the countries of the world.

He however said that his government will establish a Social Protection Agency to ensure that all social protection programmes are delivered in an integrated, inclusive and sustainable manner that optimizes resource utilization and achieves high impact.

El-Rufai said, that social register must be used in programmes designed to assist the poor people, while Nigeria must drop the idea of giving slots of assistance programmes to the rich and powerful.

According to El-Rufai, “Nigeria is going through trying times. We have the largest number of poor people than any country in the world. Yet, whenever a programme is designed to help the poor and vulnerable, we resort to a slot mentality in which important people are allocated slots instead of targeting those poor and vulnerable that deserve it. This is unfortunate. We must move away from slot mentality and use our social register to offer targeted support to those that truly need it.

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“I appeal to all my colleagues, the political elites to please drop this slot mentality and use the social register, so that, programmes targeting the vulnerable actually go to the poor and vulnerable. When we think of the poor and vulnerable, we must all remember that, the welfare of each one of us is bound up in the welfare of all of us.”

Speaking on the Social Protection Agency, El-Rufai said, “the agency will utilize an Integrated Social Protection Management Information System, which will serve as a data repository to ensure that the poorest of the poor are prioritized in programme planning and benefits.

“This will also ensure the effective monitoring and evaluation of programme impacts on targeted poor and vulnerable residents of the State,’’ he added.

The Governor said that the, “Social Protection Policy will be supported by a Social Protection Law. To ensure that Government delivers on its promise, a well-articulated Implementation Plan and Results Frame work have also been developed.

El-Rufai noted that government is aware of the enormous cost of providing social protection coverage for the poor and vulnerable but it will “seek to guarantee minimum social protection floors for every poor and vulnerable person.

“For this purpose, the Kaduna State Government welcomes partnership with all key stakeholders, donor agencies, private individuals, NGOs, and CSOs, in the social protection space.”

El-Rufai recalled that his administration has been anchored on promoting equality of opportunity since he assumed office in 2015.

According to the governor, the government has focused on expanding access to education and healthcare as the fulcrum of human capital development.

“This government has made education in the state free and compulsory for the first 12 years. We have also enacted the Child Welfare and Protection Law. Our public healthcare system offers free services for pregnant women and children younger than five years,” he added.

He however commended the active support of Save The Children International through their Child Grant Development Programme (CDGP) in strengthening social protection in Kaduna State.

In his remarks at the launch of the programme, CDGP National Programme Manager, Mr. Kayode Ajumobi said, Social Protection is not only a powerful tool to address poverty, but is also widely recognized as an important policy instrument to address economic, social and political exclusion and vulnerability.

He said, as an organisation, Save the Children International, is excited and celebrates with Governor El-Rufai and all the people of Kaduna state on the laudable occasion, saying that, the Policy is a clear demonstration of the Government’s political will and unequivocal commitment to providing social protection for all its citizens- especially its most vulnerable, poor and socially excluded ones.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to be associated with this epoch-making event, made possible through the generous support of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), formerly DFID, via the CDGP-strengthening social protection systems programme. CDGP has continued to provide technical support to the Social Protection Steering Committee and Technical Working Group throughout the policy development process.

“However, if the policy is not properly backed financially, technically and structurally, the kind of change the policy would bring about will be very much limited. Thus, we are all indeed very encouraged by the State Government’s commitment of a minimum of one percent of the State’s total Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), to Social Protection commencing this year 2021 and the ongoing process to develop and enact a state social protection law.

“However, to crown this remarkable achievement, Save the Children, through the CDGP programme, would like to call the His Excellency and indeed, the government of Kaduna state at all levels to go a step further by: Legislating the state policy and with it, establish the state social protection fund and the state social protection agency as contained in the policy,” Ajumobi said.

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