FG invests billions in social protection to fight poverty – Ngige

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The event was themed; “Universal social protection to end child labour.”

Ngige, however, described the billions of naira spent by the federal government on social protection programs as a triple vaccination against poverty.

He said the federal government is vigorously implementing its many social welfare programs to improve the lives of parents and children.

According to him, everything is being done to sustain social protection programs despite Nigeria’s declining income.

He noted that poverty fuels child labour, especially in developing countries, but expressed optimism that this scourge can be eliminated through the establishment of social protection floors and programmes.

He said his ministry and other members of the National Steering Committee for the Elimination of Child Labor were calling for increased investment in social protection programs and schemes.

He added that this would establish strong social protection for children against child labour.

He explained that social protection programs were essential in the fight against poverty and vulnerability, identified as the causes of child labour.

“Children engaged in this (child labour) are at grave risk and that is why the government, through the Ministry of Labor and Employment, in collaboration with the ILO and other stakeholders, has worked diligently.

“They collaborate to ensure the elimination of child labor in line with SDG 8.7, and that young workers of legal working age are protected and work in safe conditions”,he said.

According to the minister, the government is vigorously implementing the National School Feeding Program for Children (NCSFP), which is the major element in the fight against child labour.

He said it was aimed at increasing children’s school attendance and preventing them from dropping out of school.

He said children were being fed protein and nutritious foods for healthy growth and also to keep them in school, while providing jobs for their parents as farmers, traders and cooks.

According to Ngige, the government is also investing billions of naira in universal basic education, which provides children with free primary and secondary education and combats child labour.

He said poverty was also addressed through the conditional cash transfer program, the Trader moni program and the N-power program.

Ngige said the others were diversifying the economy into agriculture through the Youth Employment in Agriculture Program (YEAP) and the Vocational and Technical Education Program (TVET).

He said the government has tried to maintain all these programs despite declining revenues.

“The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) shows that in 2023, if we continue as business as usual, with no oil leaks blocked, refineries functioning and oil subsidies removed, we will have no capital budget allocation.

“The economy will be prostrate. It is the capital projects aspect of the economy that puts money into production. Every recurring money is for consumption.

“It does not create jobs. Our incomes before and today are not the same. This calls for concern, ” he said.

He called on developed countries and big business in Nigeria to support the fight against child labor in Nigeria by investing in social protection.

Also, Ms Vanessa PhalaDirector of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, described the current situation as very serious.

Phala said recent research by the ILO, in partnership with UNICEF on the role of “social protection in eliminating child labour, found that 1.5 billion children around the world, aged from 0 to 14 years old, did not receive any child or family allowance.

She also noted that more than 160 million children between the ages of five and 17 were still engaged in child labor and progress had stalled since 2016.

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