Subsidy Removal: 17 CSOs says govt should increase access to social services

A coalition of 17 civil society organisations, CSOs, has called on the Federal Government to roll out a comprehensive social protection programme that will truly capture the poor and vulnerable in line with global good practices to get people out of poverty.

They said federal, state and local governments should increase investments in basic education, and primary healthcare for poor Nigerians to create increased access to social services.

The CSOs made the call in a communique at the end of their meeting on Petrol Subsidy Removal and Palliatives on Tuesday and Wednesday, in Abuja.

They expressed concerns over government’s initiatives to urgently cushion the harsh economic and social effect of the subsidy removal policy on the citizens.

They recommended that “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.”

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According to them, 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.

Lamenting that the current national minimum wage of N30,000 remains highly unsustainable considering the current economic condition, they recommended that a process for increasing the minimum wage should commence immediately at the federal, state, and local levels and by private sector employers as the current minimum wage no longer reflect the new realities.

They noted that 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 hardship, and suffering amongst the citizens.

“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 and a further slide to 133million of its citizens living in multi-dimensional poverty in 2022 (National Bureau of Statistics),” they added.

The CSO leaders noted that social protection policies implementation combined with enlightened leadership and pressure from below has capacity to lift people out of poverty.

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They noted that China and India for instance lifted 730 million and 170 million people respectively out of poverty between 1990 and 2015.

“While social protection has been acknowledged across the world as a veritable way to reduce poverty, in line with this, there is need to update the Nigeria Social Register, NSR, and create awareness on the process of its compilation and the names on the register.”

The CSOs also recommended that the current administration adopt a comprehensive development agenda for the country as a piecemeal approach to dealing in with recurrent challenges faced by previous administrations will not help in the long run.

The communique was by David Ugolor of ANEEJ; Abiola Akiode of WARDC; Monday Osasah of Centre LSD; Ene Ede of Equity Advocate; Funmi Akinyele of Food Basket Nigeria; Rommy Mom of Lawyers Alert; Otive Igbuzor of Centre LSD; Nelson Nwafor of FENRAD; Tijani Abdulkareem of SERDEC and David Anyaele of CCD.

Others were Y. Z. Ya’U of CITAD; Udy Akpan of YAF; Emem Okon of KEBETKACHE; Faith Nwadishi of CTA; EgedegbeEdeworof VREI; Idris Miliki of CHRCR and Obialunanma Nnaobi-Ayodele of Meluibe Foundation.

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