The time has come for vulnerable persons in Jigawa and Kano states to be included in the scheme of things in order to give them a sense of belonging. BAYO MUHAMMAD ALABIRA reports on one of such meetings held recently in Kano where the plights of such persons were the focal point.
In Jigawa and Kano states, social protection organisations have identified five groups of people as the most vulnerable because they are neglected and excluded from many forms of empowerment and support programmes from the government, individuals and philanthropic organisations.
The association, Expanded Social Protection for Inclusion Development (ESPID), a social inclusion assessment and strategic work plan meeting comprises the civil society organisation, the media and the academia during their four-day stakeholders meeting brainstormed on various issues that always affect the less privileged and voiceless in the society.
During the brain-storming session, various ideas on how to overcome the identified problems were generated by participants.
The meeting which was organised by ESPID on Action Against Hunger has identified the vulnerable groups in the societies across the two states as women, persons with disabilities, children, elderly and ethnic minorities among others.
These groups of people are said to be marginalised with less or little benefits comparable with other groups of people that are said to have enough.
Identifying the problem
The meeting which was supervised by the team of experts was led by the project manager, Stella Esedunme and Abiodun Abaniwo, the Social Protection Programme Manager of ESPID project on Action against Hunger who revealed the miserable treatment being meted to women in all aspects of human endeavours, especially in areas such as politics, economic, empowerment, appointments across government offices, respectively.
It noted that women in many parts of those states are treated with disdain such that no matter their status, the woman is always seen from the perspective of a second fiddle by the male folks while it said children are always subjected to various means of molestation in the society.
“Most of these children suffering today are subjected to these grisly and dastardly acts by either their parents or closed relations and members of the society in which they are living. “Most of these children seen fending for themselves on the streets today and struggling to survive are not orphans, but are neglected by the society because there is no law to put an end to these forms of inhuman treatment meted to these innocent children.”
The next group of vulnerable persons that equally receives ugly and harsh treatment in the society across the two states, according to the group is Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWD).
It noted that right from when a child is born with such a form of disability, the parents, instead of sending such to study in a school like other children and be responsible in the society would require them to go into the streets and beg.
“The most unfortunate thing is that the child now becomes the family’s source of livelihood. “Instead of being taken care of as someone with disability, the child now will be the one to be feeding the entire family through daily begging.
Those lucky enough to attend schools from primary to secondary and up to the higher institutions and graduate are left without employments. Whenever jobs are advertised, they hardly get it, even if they attend the interview and pass through all stages of the procedures. This is because they are regarded as disabled who cannot do anything in the society.
“At times, they are not considered when planning. This is why so many building structures, especially storey buildings are constructed without pave ways specifically made for people with disabilities.”
Investigation shows that elderly find it difficult to make ends meet because society regards them to have outlived their times; therefore, they are people that do little to earn a living. Even in planning, the policy makers don’t remember the elderly when planning their yearly budget as nothing serious is allocated to them in most cases. This situation forces some of the elderly people to go out on the streets begging in order to earn a living.
The group also identified ethnic minorities living in the two states as part of the marginalised which also need recognition and care as well as inclusion in other benefits enjoyed by the indigenes. To that extent, the minorities need to be recognised in state affairs such as inclusion in governance like being given some political appointments to represent their interest in the state executive council such as special assistants or special advisers in order to give them a sense of belonging.
To that extent, ESPID Social Inclusion Assessment Dissemination and strategic Work plan Meeting has come out with suggestions on how these problems can be tackled to some extents. It suggested that policy makers be approached through various relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as parastatals that are responsible for the solution to each problem affecting the above identified vulnerable and marginalised groups in those states.
“The problem affecting the minority groups is not limited to Jigawa and Kano states alone as it has become a national social vice that affects minorities everywhere in the country. It is a cankerworm that causes problems between the so-called indigenes and the so-called settlers in most of the states in the federation. To some extents, it results in physical combat between the indigenes and the settlers.”
Investigation however shows that in the case of Jigawa, there has never been a time that the relationship became sour as they were often given political appointments.
During the sessions, it was suggested that all obstacles that prevent the flow of assistance to vulnerable persons in the two states be removed through proper use of information and dissemination.
“Awareness creation through various media reportages should be strengthened and solidified with the means of achieving a target goal. It has also being observed that people should be treated equally and given due recognition no matter their levels in the society.”
To this end, the aims and objectives of the meeting were greatly achieved. Because it was agreed that advocacies have to be increased to ensure that social protection bills are completed and passed into legislation at both federal and state levels.
Also the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as well as Child Development Grant Programme (CDGP) were called upon to intensify advocacies to encourage state and federal governments into including budget appropriations for social protection programmes.
Towards that end, state and federal governments were challenged to further consider committing more finances and implementing timely sustainable social protection programmes.
The meeting has also drawn the attention of both FCDO and CDGP to support the provision of more training for social protection staff as well as stakeholders at state and federal levels. It was observed that the level of training of key stakeholders at present appears not to be adequate to completely engage the system.
Because of this development, the meeting noted that there is need more than ever before to scale up training of TWGs and CSOs in order to enhance their roles in the inclusion of disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised groups in all social protection intervention programmes.
Furthermore, it noted that state governments and TWGs need to focus more on strengthening systems at local governments as well as traditional and community levels to achieve bottom-top system strengthening for social protection. Therefore, the involvement of media coverage should be stepped up at programmes implementation stages for more awareness creation and enlightenments, among others.