By Asma’u Ahmad
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says it plans to sustain its partnership with Federal and States Governments toward safeguarding the future of Nigerian children.
Ms Pernille Ironside, the UNICEF Deputy Representative in Nigeria, stated this at the opening of a workshop on Public Finance for Children in Abuja on Monday.
Newsmen report that the workshop was organised for staff of UNICEF Regional offices in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
“In Nigeria more than half of the country’s population lives in poverty; and it 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,’’ Ironside said.
She said investment in children’s right is an investment for their future.
She said efforts must be made to redress the situation.
“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.
“I am delighted to see representation from all the sections in the room committed to supporting government at the Federal and State levels to take this critical step.
“I will 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.
“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,’’ Ironside said.
She added: “These bottlenecks typically translate into policy formulation, timely budget allocation, release and execution, and service delivery in the field.
“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 realisation of children’s rights.
Ironside had made it a priority to strengthening national capacities for analysis on government budget toward attaining social development.
“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.
“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.
“In this regard, 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.