Group seeks social protection policy to address poverty in Anambra

The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) , a non-governmental organisation (NGO), on Thursday called for a state-driven social protection policy to reduce poverty in Anambra.

Mr Leo Atakpu, the Deputy Executive Director, ANEEJ, made the call at a two-day capacity building workshop for civil society organisations (CSOs) and media on Enhancing Social Protection Programmes in Nigeria, in Awka.

Atakpu said the workshop was a deliberate effort from the ANEEJ and its partner CSOs in five states to support effort of government in tackling the hydra-headed poverty problem in Nigeria.

He said that the Federal Government, and a few states have initiated a couple of social investment programmes as a direct response to the poverty situation.

Atakpu said that the Buhari led-administration in 2020 committed to a decade-long plan to lift 100,000 million Nigerians out of poverty via the Conditional Cash Transfer, School Feeding and N-Power Programme, amongst others.

He said that poverty and hunger had remained high in rural areas, remote communities and among female -headed households across the six geo-political zones.

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Mr Smart Okafor, Anambra Lawmakers, addressing participants at the workshop for civil society organisations (CSOs) and media on Enhancing Social Protection Programmes in Nigeria, in Awka.

“The struggle to lift more citizens out of extreme poverty is an indictment on successive governments which have mismanaged the country’s vast oil resources through all sorts of bad governance practices.

“This development already threatens the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which targets ending extreme poverty by 2030.

“As Nigeria faces a major population boom, it is projected to become the world’s third largest country by 2050 and its problem will likely worsen.

“So, government at all levels need to be involved in addressing this problem,” he said.

Atakpu said there was the need for state governments, especially Anambra to put in place clear policies to drive social protection programmes to address poverty in the state.

“We are calling for state-centric social protection programmes for Anambra because from reports we have received on poverty spread in the country, Anambra is one of the state that has high number of people living in extreme poverty.

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“There is a lot of work to be done because we found out also that there are no clear policies to drive social protection in Anambra.

“There are no institutionalised framework for social protection in the state, we only have bits of work around social investment or protection programmes.

“Having a social protection programme in states resonates with ANEEJ vision of an Africa without poverty, so, anywhere there is poverty, we try to think of how to provide solution.

“That is why ANEEJ decided to have this workshop, to help CSOs, media practitioners and of course the state government to begin now to think through the issue of poverty and how they can put policies and programmes in place to address poverty in the state,” he said.

In his presentation, Dr Oscar Ubhenin, a lecturer at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, said that social protection programmes provided security welfare for vulnerable groups to protect them from hardship and livelihood risk as well as enhance their social status.

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Also speaking, Mr Smart Okafor, a lawmaker representing Nnewi North at Anambra state House of Assembly, said the vulnerable groups bore the brunt of the challenges experienced in the country, and should be protected.

Okafor promised to gather support for the legislation of a bill seeking to institutionalise a framework for social protection in the state, to protect the poor and vulnerable.

In his remarks, Mr Chris Azor, the Chairman, Anambra State Civil Society Network, said the workshop would equip the CSOs and media to monitor implementation of the social protection programmes in the state to ensure equity, transparency and accountability. (NAN)

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