UNICEF, expands, scopes public finance in Nigeria

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The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says it is expanding its social policy scope in Nigeria to include public finance for better result.

Mr Hamidou Poufon, the UNICEF Chief Social Policy Officer in Nigeria, disclosed this while speaking at a Workshop on Public Finance for Children in Abuja on Wednesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop is organised for staff of UNICEF Regional offices in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria among others.

Poufon said the organisation was also decentralising its operations for effective performance.

“In the past four years, UNICEF Nigeria Social Policy work has largely focused on bringing Federal and State government attention to the growing momentum on social protection.

“This is in line with globally recognised strategy for poverty reduction, equality and social inclusion.

“This occurs alongside similar efforts to bridge the evidence and knowledge gaps on child poverty and disparities.

“With considerable advancement in the area of social protection, Nigeria Country Office is expanding its social policy scope to sufficiently include public finance and decentralisation/local governance.

“This is coinciding with the launch of a new country programme for 2018 -2022.

“Over the past decade, government investments in child-related social sector in Nigeria has stagnated,’’ he said.

Poufon said Nigeria’s annual spending in social sector had witnessed rapid decline in recent times.

“Total spending on education revolves around 5 per cent of national budget spending, against an international
commitment of 20 per cent of national budget.

“Health spending decreased tendentiously from x to y per cent around 10 per cent in the region, against an African commitment (Abuja agreement) of at least, 15 per cent of the national budget.’’

Poufon, however, said Nigeria ought to have utilised its huge oil income on enhancing the living condition of the people, especially children.

“Nigeria, oil producing country and a middle-income economy with a strategic position as a regional powerhouse in the West Africa region, is ideally meant to use results based budgeting.

“It is also to use a Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) to achieve equity and better
results for its population, especially children.

“However, Public Finance in the context of UNICEF interventions in Nigeria has remained in an embryonic stage and there is a strong need for it to be strengthened to enhance comprehensive programme delivery.

“Furthermore, the effects of climate change on a mostly agrarian population, the on-going insurgency and volatility of security due to ethnic clashes have contributed to migration and the growing number of internally displaced persons.

“This necessitates that a strategic response to humanitarian situations, including the preparation and implementation
of a contingency plan mainstreamed in state development plans with adequate public budgeting, is adequately established.

He said the workshop was aimed at exposing UNICEF staffers to rudiment of public finance management, to enable them makes relevant budget analysis and management.

“It is against this background that UNICEF is holding a training workshop on public

The aim, he added was to enable those concerned to have a critical mass of UNICEF staff who could engage in
political dialogue for better public spending in child sensitive social sector.

This Poufon said would be through the design and implementation of activities ensuring consistency between sectoral strategies and budget allocations and spending.

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