Save the Children International (SCI), an NGO has urged journalists to create awareness on government’s social protection programmes among citizens.
Mr Kayode Ajumobi, National Programme Manager of Child Development Grant Programme (CDGP), a Social protection programme under the SCI made the call during a three-day Social Protection Awareness Training for media in Kaduna, Eko hot blog gathered.
Ajumobi said that such media informative reportage would help to ensure that the country was on the right path in terms of social protection.
He commended the Federal Government who in spite of the decline in the source of revenue continued to fund the social protection programme.
He added that the government needed to do more to create awareness and improve transparency and accountability in the sector.
“We believe journalists have a very important role to play in helping to hold the government to account to live up to their responsibilities.
“You won’t be able to do this work if you don’t have a good understanding of what social protection means and I thought that this training affords us the opportunity to provide you an orientation on social protection and its key concepts.
“To know what the Federal and state governments are doing at the moment in terms of social protection and the participation of citizens and civil society organisations in the current social protection landscape.
“We believe with you being aware of all of these going on in the social protection landscape; you will be able to play a very important role in helping to disseminate these information create awareness among citizens hold government officials to account.’’
Ajumobi said that a lot of people did not know that social protection or palliative distribution was their right and an obligation of the government and thought they were being magnanimous.
He said that social protection was a human right, and the Nigerian government signed up to it and not that they were doing citizens a favour.
He said that by bringing journalists together to enlighten and provide them with index orientation on social protection, SCI believed that their reportage on social protection would significantly improve.
He said that as part of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) involved in third party monitoring of social protection programmes some loopholes were observed.
Ajumobi noted that the Federal Government had continued to pay cash to beneficiaries in the cash transfer program and it brought a lot of operational cost to the progamme.
He called for a full digitalisation of Cash Transfer for the social protection programme to save cost adding that if beneficiaries got the cash paid into their accounts for easy access, most beneficiaries won’t have to travel long distances.
He said that another challenge observed was that the grievous mechanism needed to be properly redressed.
This, he said was because some people might get their payment cash receipts of three thousand instead of five thousand naira, unaware of the opportunities or tools in which they could complain and seek redress.
Ajumobi said that although the Social protection was a Federal government initiative, SCI Child Development Grant Programme (CDGP) was strengthening the social support system in Nigeria.
“We have three outputs which we are working towards in creating an enabling environment for social protection policy and institutions, ensuring evidence for social protection in collaboration with CSOs.
“This creates accountability, transparency for social protection policies and institutions, we work to help strengthen the system of the government with the revision of the national social protection policy. ‘’
Ajumobi said that the policy which was developed in 2017 ran out in 2020 and was spearheaded by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning and SCI was at the forefront as well.
He said that CDGP, was being implemented by Save the Children and Action Against Hunger since 2014 in Nigeria.
He said that in the first phase, the progamme was positioned as a “Cash Plus for Nutrition”, aimed at contributing to the reduction of the high malnutrition levels in Northern Nigeria.
Ajumobi said that it targeted and provided cash-transfer to pregnant women and women with children under the age of two years, in selected communities of Zamfara and Jigawa states.
He said that since the commencement of the second phase of implementation in 2019, CDGP continued to collaborate with the government of Nigeria at the national and state-levels across its four focal states of implementation.
“The programme has continued to support the government to strengthen policy and legislation, support the design and delivery of social protection programmes, and work with CSOs and media to stimulate political will and promote accountability.