By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The United Nations Children Fund, (UNICEF) has said that it will sustain partnership with the Federal and State governments to safeguard the future of the Nigerian children.
UNICEF Deputy Representative in Nigeria, Ms Pernille Ironside, stated this at the opening of a workshop organized for staff of it Regional Offices in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria on Public Finance for Children in Abuja on Monday, October 15, 2018.
According to her, children are the future leaders and engines of the national economy, as well as the future mothers and fathers and guardians of the nation, hence, investments in their rights are investment in their future and the collective future of Nigeria.
She said that Nigeria is almost the largest economy in Africa, yet, inequalities in income and opportunity continue to rise, adding that today, more than half of the country’s population lives in poverty; and as well has one of the world’s highest rates of maternal, child and infant mortality.
“More than 10 million children are out of school and tens of millions of Nigerians still don’t have access to clean water and proper sanitation.
“The situation is grim but not irreversible. I believe we are all aware of the challenges and the urgent need to continue to act. Together we can address and change the current status quo and reach the most disadvantaged children and their families.
“We can make a positive change and when Nigeria succeeds, the region and the entire continent have the potential to succeed and ensure no child is left behind,’’ she noted.
Ms Ironside explained that reversing the current trend in Nigeria requires child-centred social policies with adequate budgets and laws to provide equitable and comprehensive services to vulnerable children.
“As you know, the realisation of human rights, the foundation of equitable and sustainable development, requires a good understanding of gaps in the results chain that hinder achievement of better outcomes for people.
“These bottlenecks typically translate into policy formulation, timely budget allocation, release and execution, and service delivery in the field.
“Unfortunately, the often observed mismatch between the actual development priorities identified in national development strategies and budget allocations, is a major bottleneck to achieving development results.
“Being better equipped on the issues of public financial management, and especially budget process, makes it possible to better contribute to human development and particularly the realising government budget, main instrument for expressing the political will of the priority areas of development, directly and indirectly affects the lives of populations and families.
“Moreover, even in some cases of adequate allocation of public funds to specific development programmes, for example for the benefit of the poor, vulnerable, children, minorities, poor management results into very little changes in the situation of the targeted populations significantly affects achieving the desired results.
“Mindful of this, UNICEF has in recent years placed the question of strengthening national capacities for analysis, management and advocacy around the government budget, at the heart of its priority interventions in social policies.”
The UNICEF Deputy Rep in the country said she believed the meeting would be an excellent platform to exchange ideas and foster knowledge sharing among participants while shaping their work to boost key results for children through effective and efficient public finance management.
“I would like to reiterate our firm commitment to provide continued support in the field of social inclusion with focus on state budgeting which is key to ensure sustainable key results for children.
“I would also like to acknowledge the good work that is already ongoing in some states such as Bauchi with 15.23 per cent of its total budget toward health in 2018, meeting the AU 2001 Health Financing agreement.
“I encourage participants to identify key actions to be implemented, through a clear road map, for promotion of quantitative and qualitative improvement of public sectors at the Federal and State levels,’’ she said.