By Philip Yatai

Stakeholders working in the social protection sector in Kaduna State, on Tuesday began a three-day meeting to validate the state’s Graduation Youth-Focused Social Protection programme.

Mrs Saude Atoyebi, the Focal Person, Kaduna State Social Investment Office (KADSIO), said at the opening of the event in Kano that the draft programme was designed to tackle youth unemployment.

Atoyebi, who was represented by Mrs Rebecca Padonu, Special Assistant to Gov. Nasir El-Rufai on Social Investment, added that the programme would build the needed resilience to socio-economic shocks among the poor and vulnerable youth in the state.

She recalled that the programme was developed in April by the State Steering Committee on Social Investment with support from Save the Children International (SCI), under its Expanding Social Protection for Inclusive Development (ESPID) project.

she said that the programme was developed as part of the state government’s priorities as outlined in its Social Protection Policy and Draft Implementation Plan.

She said that the programme was designed through a highly consultative and participatory process, involving relevant stakeholders in the state’s social protection space.

According to her, Gov. El-Rufai is determined to establish an inclusive, robust, realistic and well-coordinated social protection system with a floor that leaves no one below poverty level.

She said that KADSIO was entrusted with the task of uplifting the lives and livelihoods of Kaduna residents, especially those from poor and vulnerable households.

“This is being done through the management of programmes, projects and several interventions that will enable them to live a life of dignity.

“Through this effort, the government is set to have in place a well-structured, integrated social protection system that can reach the poorest and most vulnerable citizens of the state,” she said.

She commended SCI for the support to provide a life of dignity to poor and vulnerable in the state.

Mr Tanko Langaya, State Team Lead, SCI, commended the stakeholders for supporting the development of the first draft.

Langaya said that the contributions have added immensely to the quality of the draft programme which spoke to the needs of the youths.

He said that ESPID was a United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Supported projects, to strengthen shock responsive social protection systems in the state.

Mr George Akor, SCI Social Protection Technical Advisor, said that the state government’s political will to support social protection programmes was demonstrated by the creation of an enabling environment and budgetary allocation.

According to him, the policy environment and adequate financing are critical components of a system’s strengthening for shock-responsive social protection intervention.

He said that the programme, if approved and implemented would operationalise the state social protection policy designed to provide a life of dignity to the citizens of the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the stakeholders at the meeting include representatives of relevant government agencies, National Youth Council of Nigeria, and Kaduna Social Protection Accountability Coalition.

The Open Government Partnership Technical Working Group on Social Protection was also represented at the meeting. (NAN)