The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, has inaugurated an Inter-ministerial Network on Child Benefit for inclusive Economic Growth and Human development in in line with the Renewed Hope of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration.

Bagudu who inaugurated the committee praised UNICEF Nigeria, for been at the forefront of issues concerning children and are proactive in policy solutions that address childhood needs by ensuring that children were given opportunities to fully exhibit of their potentials in life.

He said that “the International Network of Partners in support of Child Benefits for Economic Growth is conceived as a think-tank for the Ministry on issues of child development and overall economic growth of Nigeria in the near future.

“With the ever rising economic issues, it is very easy to ignore our future (which of course rest with today’s children); so this particular initiative is highly welcomed by my Ministry. While planning for our short term developments, we must also strategically plan for our very long term development. Indeed, our long term plan cannot be complete if children are left out of it.”

He regretted that the Federal Government had initiated several social safety nets programme to support economically disadvantaged people which includes the N-Power, the National Home-Grown School Feeding programme (NHGSFP), the National Conditional Cash Transfer programme (NCTP), and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment programme (GEEP) but none of these programmes specifically tied to addressing child poverty.

Speaking earlier, the UNICEF country representative, in Nigeria, Cristan Munduate, said that the contributing factors of child poverty in Nigeria were numerous, as they included the country’s high-income inequality and overall poverty, limited access to education, poor healthcare and low quality of other basic services, effects of conflicts and climate change, harmful cultural and traditional practices aggravated by low spending in key social sectors.

Munduate stressed that given the high level of child poverty and deprivation in Nigeria, there was a growing need for Nigeria to adopt a social investment program tied to children’s welfare to understand the effectiveness and impacts of such programme in the Nigerian context.

The terms of reference of the Inter-Ministerial Technical working Group includes : to draft an activity plan for the immediate priorities measures and align it with the National Development Plan and the Renewed Hope Agenda; to develop a draft policy brief every quarter with updated situation of the Nigerian Child; to set a mechanism for pooling of Donor fund to support the assignment among others.

Members of the ministerial Network were drawn from relevant MDA’s to include the Federal Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Health and Social welfare, Child Protection Network, National Cash Transfer Office with UNICEF as international partner.