Subsidy removal: Coalition canvasses efficient social protection programmes
By EricJames Ochigbo
A coalition of 17 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called on the Federal Government to roll out a comprehensive social protection programme that will effectively cater for the poor and vulnerable in line with global best practices to get people out of poverty.
The CSOs made the call at a news conference at the end of a two-day meeting on petrol subsidy removal and palliatives in Abuja on Wednesday.
The Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership Strategy and Development, Mr Monday Osasah who spoke on behalf of the coalition, stressed the need to urgently cushion the harsh economic and social effect of the subsidy removal on the citizens.
He said the coalition believed that the current administration adopted a comprehensive development agenda for the country.
According to him, a piecemeal approach to deal with recurrent challenges faced by previous administrations will not help in the long run.
“Poverty rate has increased steadily over the years in Nigeria and has degenerated to the point of ranking third in the world in 2014, to the first position in 2018 with around 87 million people.”
He said poverty had further slid to 133 million of its citizens living in multi-dimensional poverty in 2022 according to National Bureau of Statistics.
Osasah stated that social protection had been acknowledged across the world as a veritable way to reduce poverty, adding that in line with this, there was need to update the NSR and create awareness on the process of its compilation and the names on the register.
“Strategic communication of every process and stage of the implementation of the social protection policy is critical for success, especially in a country where corruption is endemic and the trust in government is at a low ebb,” he said.
Osasah said that China and India for instance, lifted 730 million and 170 million people out of poverty between 1990 and 2015.
He said that coalition recommended that governments at federal, state, and local levels should increase investments in basic education and primary healthcare for poor Nigerians to create increased access to social services.
Osasah said as CSOs, they were calling for implementation of a new living wage for all Nigerians saying that the current national minimum wage of N30,000 remained highly unsustainable, considering the current economic condition.
According to him, the coalition recommends that a process for increasing the minimum wage should commence immediately at the federal, state, and local levels and by private sector employers.
“The current minimum wage no longer reflects the new realities; government’s removal of subsidy pushed up prices of goods and services, like food stuffs, transportation costs, agricultural implements and inputs, rent and other services.
“Yet salaries were not increased, necessitating untold hardships and suffering amongst the citizens,” he said.
He said that social protection policy implementation combined with enlightened leadership and pressure from below had capacity to lift people out of poverty.