Don’t vote candidates with no social safety net programs, CSOs tell Nigerians
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, a coalition of Civil Society groups on the Social Protection program has asked Nigerians not to vote for candidates that do not have social protection programs clearly spelt out in their manifestos.
This is against the backdrop of the recently released Multidimensional Poverty Index by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, indicating that 130 million Nigerians are experiencing different dimensions of poverty.
The Chairman of, the National Technical Working Committee Electoral Advocacy Campaign for Social Protection Forum, Mr Taiwo Benson, while speaking at the official launch of Advocacy Forum yesterday, lamented the magnitude of the poverty level in the country and stressed the need to vote in leaders that will tackle the challenge through social protection programs
Members of the coalition in their different submissions stated that Nigeria should be aware that social protection is their right and when voting for any of the candidates, they should take note and recognizance candidates’ ability to provide social protection in terms of health and education among others.
According to the coalition, it has observed the tendency of politicians to make social protection programs as instruments for political enticement to citizens, but they have been sensitizing citizens to know that whatever they get is their right and not to cover up for the ills of government in power or any other.
It further pointed out that they have observed delay in social protection intervention and has been sensitizing the youth, women and entire citizens on what they should demand in order to reduce multidimesional Poverty in the country.
The coalition also stressed the need to sustain social protection programs beyond the current administration so as to reduce the number of people who are poor.
Benson further noted the need to increase coverage of social protection programmes across the country, especially at the state and local government levels.
He said: “We want to mobilize the electorates to use their votes to demand increase coverage of social protection; we want a situation where the state government will also buy into the provisions of social safety net programs in addition to what is done at the federal level.
The Country Director, of Save the Children, Mercy Gichuhi, in her remarks, stated that the Expanding Social Protection for Inclusive Development (ESPID) project was funded through support from the UK Government to support the federal and state governments to strengthen the social protection system in Nigeria and strengthen civil society to advocate for improved social protection services.
She lamented that despite several initiatives such as N-POWER, Conditional Cash Transfer and the Home-grown feeding programme by the federal and state governments as well as other stakeholders to fight poverty in Nigeria, millions of Nigerians still live in poverty.
The country director stated that social protection is an effective means for addressing multidimensional poverty and has proven to be successful in not only pulling people out of poverty but also, in protecting them from falling deeper into poverty.
She said, “this is why Save the Children has been collaborating with several other stakeholders in promoting and strengthening social protection systems in Nigeria.”