FG Partners UNICEF To Unveil Universal Child Benefit, Enhance Social Protection In Nigeria


Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria

The Federal Government at the SPECS 2024 signed a pact with UNICEF and partners to introduce Universal Child Benefit and increase public spending in social protection by two percent to reduce multidimensional poverty and promote equitable development in Nigeria. 

The pact was reached during the third Edition of the Social Protection Cross Learning Summit (SPECS) according to a statement signed by Blessing Ejiofor, Communication Officer, United Nations Children’s Fund which was made available to Independent Newspapers.


The statement also noted that the agreeing parties in a communique stressed the critical need for a strengthened social protection system to address the pressing issues of poverty in Nigeria.


The statement reads, “The Government of Nigeria, UNICEF, and partners reaffirmed their commitment to advancing social protection aligned with essential services for comprehensive support.


“A communique was signed to introduce Universal Child Benefit and increase public spending in social protection by two percent aiming to reduce multidimensional poverty and promote equitable development.”


The SPECS summit underscored the urgent need to tackle Nigeria’s human capital development and key deprivations in health, education, and child protection amid poverty. Consequently, the government has launched a cash transfer program offering 25,000 Naira over three months to impoverished households, aiming to alleviate financial strains and enhance the well-being of vulnerable populations across the country.


The statement further reads, “Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, faces significant challenges in human capital development, and deprivations in health, education, nutrition, water, hygiene, sanitation, and child protection. This situation underscores the urgency for comprehensive and effective social protection strategies.


“In response to these challenges, the Government of Nigeria introduced a cash transfer program, providing 25,000 Naira over a three-month period to poor and vulnerable households. This initiative aims to alleviate immediate economic pressures and mitigate the socio-economic impact of recent economic reforms,” it added.


“Our goal is to create a comprehensive support network that addresses the multifaceted needs of children and families, ultimately leading to improved outcomes in health, education, and overall well-being. We must work together to bridge gaps and strengthen coordination,” said Mr. Wale Edun, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of Economy, emphasising the importance of integrated social protection systems.  


Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, on behalf of the Social Protection Development Partners Group, stated, “Social protection is crucial in realising the rights of every child. Child-sensitive social protection is key to ensuring that every child reaches their full potential. We commend the Government for significant strides in the development of several programs and a single registry. However, there is a need to ensure stronger linkages between social protection and essential social services with a focus on health, education, and nutrition.”

Despite advancements, social protection coverage remains low, with only seven percent of children covered, the statement bemoaned. In addition, it lamented that the coordination mechanisms of social protection programs are weak, leading to fragmentation and inefficiency. “Therefore, the summit aims to generate actionable insights and foster collaboration among key players to enhance coverage, coordination, and financing of social protection interventions,” the statement read. 

The statement listed the objectives of the Summit, which include raising awareness, improving delivery and coordination, and commitment to financing of social protection interventions.


The statement reads, “In specific the objectives of the Summit include: Raise Awareness: Highlight how social protection can mitigate poverty, enhance economic stability, and promote inclusive growth through social assistance (cash transfers), social security (health insurance), and labor market regulation).


“Improve Delivery and Coordination: Propose measures to improve delivery and coordination mechanisms for effective coverage and impact of social protection programs.


“Commitment to Financing: Elicit commitments from government bodies, international organizations, and private sector stakeholders on financing social protection initiatives through innovative financing mechanisms,” it added.