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Abia: Otti commends cooperation among EU, Unicef, ILO in fight against poverty

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Abia: Otti commends cooperation among EU, Unicef, ILO in fight against poverty

A delegation of the European Union,(EU), with its development partners from UNICEF and International Labor Organization (ILO) led by Programme manager for Social protection European Union, Miss Chioma Osuji, is in Abia on an intervention mission in support of a sustainable social protection system in Nigeria.

At present, only four states of the federation, including Abia, have been selected to benefit from the project in the country.

The project, which is fully funded by the European Union as a grant, is designed to build a robust, responsive and reliable social register for seamless planning and implementation of social support and other interventionist projects in chosen states.

Addressing the delegation who were at Government House, Umuahia to discuss ways of partnering Abia state government in strengthening the social protection system of the state, Governor Alex Otti stated that his administration is working tirelessly to reduce the state’s poverty rate far below 30% in the next one year in -spite of the growing population.

He urged World Organizations to, not only look at the multidimensional poverty, as a stand-alone item, but consider poverty that looks at wealth creation, access to education and infrastructure.

Otti, however, decried the absence of reliable Data-base for Social programmes in the state and expressed implicit confidence in the ability of the team to come- up with a reliable and acceptable social register that would serve as a case study for other states of the federation in the near future.

According to Governor Otti:”We may not be able to eliminate poverty but we can alleviate it when we create an enabling environment for businesses to grow and generate employment and pull people out of unemployment.

“So we want to genuinely take people out of poverty and we want to generate a reliable number; we want to see the number and see the poverty rates go down even if the population is going high. Once you have a reliable database, it becomes easy to plan and for you to measure”.

While thanking the team for considering Abia as one of the 4 states selected for partnership, Otti maintained that everything his administration has done in just 8 months in office, is to genuinely bring Abians out of poverty.

As he put it:”I want to see that in the next one year, with an increase in the population, the poverty level will be reducing not just the rate.

“We have struggled with the social register. I am happy you are talking about social register and social protection. There is nothing as important as data, because without data you cannot plan.

“We’ll do everything possible to ensure that you do your work and generate reliable data for the purpose other than social protection.”

He informed the team that the state is one of the safest in Nigeria,haven committed a lot of resources in the security sector with the launch of a security initiative “operation crush” which he noted has accounted for improved security in Abia state.

The Governor said that his government is happy to partner with the European Union and its partners, adding that Abia would be pleased to see the International Labor Organization partner the state in resolving issues of pension arrears that have accumulated over the years.

“I think the cooperation between EU, Unicef and ILO is commendable, because that is the only way you can work.”

Governor Otti used the occasion to applauded the resilient spirit of the Aba business Community, stressing that with road infrastructure, water supply,electricity and security an average Aba business person will survive.

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In her remarks, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Blessing Felix said that Abia, as of today can not boast of a reliable social register, pointing out that the intervention of the team will help the state to come up with an accurate and reliable social support register that has eluded the state for many decades.

Earlier in her presentation, the team leader , Miss Chioma Osuji said that they are in Abia to partner the state in strengthening its social protection system by coming up with a reliable social register that would serve as a guide in providing the necessary support to addressing the multidimensional poverty rate in the state.

Abia: Otti commends cooperation among EU, Unicef, ILO in fight against poverty

The EU team and government representatives during the meeting

She regretted that many poor Nigerians are yet to be captured on the social register to determine the actual number in need of their services,adding that the whole process will now be digitized to tackle the multidimensional poverty rate in Nigeria.

The team leader, explained that Abia was selected, among the four states, to enjoy the partnership of EU and her partner Agencies as well as help the state get a social protection policy with all the legislative framework.

In their remarks, the Social Policy Specialist UNICEF, Nigeria, Mr Segun Tekun and the Senior Programme Officer, International Labor Organization (ILO) Mrs Chinyere Emeka- Anuma noted that their Agencies are working with the EU to strengthen intervention projects in their chosen locations, pointing out that the team would meet with various stakeholders in various sectors of the state to enable them know their areas of interest and what the team can bring to the table.

The wife of the Governor Lady Priscilla Otti and host government functionaries were part of the meeting.

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