*VP headlines presentation of Situation Analysis of Children in Nigeria, discusses how to end child poverty
While the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has made significant strides in improving child welfare across the country, more can still be done to safeguard the future of every Nigerian child, with the convergence of political, religious and cultural resources.
This was stated by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, today while speaking at the presentation of the Situation Analysis of Children in Nigeria (SITAn) Document at Transcorp Hotel, Abuja.
“I believe that we can in this decade permanently end child poverty in Nigeria. The key task is to converge the political, religious and cultural wills to the resolution of this existential challenge. We must not rest until the future of every child in Nigeria is guaranteed,” he said.
The event was jointly organized by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, UNICEF, other collaborating Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and development partners.
As the event holds on National Children’s Day (May 27), Prof. Osinbajo led the applause and wished every Nigerian child a happy celebration.
Proffering further measures to improve child welfare nationwide, the Vice President emphasized access to education, especially for the girl child, quality healthcare, and improving nutrition, among others.
Highlighting the significant steps taken by the administration in this regard, Prof. Osinbajo noted that “every child that fails to live up to their potential because they did not have access to basic education and the tools needed to rise to the stature of their dreams, indicts every one of us and takes away from the sum of who we are as a people.
“And this is what has driven our commitment to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the decade and to safeguard the future of every Nigerian child,” he stated.
The Vice President added, “sustainable solutions to these challenges require an interplay between poverty reduction, the digital economy, health and employment, and a multi-stakeholder approach to tackling them.”
Highlighting the Federal Government’s efforts in this regard towards improving child welfare across the country, Prof. Osinbajo however noted that “there is a dire need to increase children-focused interventions, especially where challenges of insecurity persist, and we need every hand on deck.”
Some of the FG’s intervention programmes include the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy aimed at creating decent livelihoods for millions; the At-Risk Children’s Program, ARC-P, which combines formal education, skills and health as a multi-faceted community intervention led by the States and coordinated by the Federal Government, among others.
The VP further noted the ongoing execution of the country’s SDG Implementation Plan (2020-2030) and the improvements made.
“Despite the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SDG Plan is creating social safeguards for the family through the delivery of basic services, especially in water and sanitation, and the positive improvements we have witnessed in the provision of Universal Health Coverage and increase of the attendance of women at birth.
“We can also speak with some pride about this administration’s substantial progress in raising the number of States that have now enacted the Child’s Right Law from 23 to 30 in just two years,” the VP observed.
Other policies he listed include the North East Nigeria Maternal Nutrition, Infant and Young Child Nutrition Guidelines as among key efforts of the government for improving child welfare.
However, the VP submitted that “as long as we still have an estimated large number of out-of-school children, many more with severe and acute malnutrition, forced into early marriages, recruited into armed conflict, denied access to safe drinking water and hygiene, subjected to sexual and gender-based violence, exploited, deprived of access to health and other rights, as long as we still have even just one child in deprivation and at risk, our work is certainly not done yet.
Then he spoke about the urgency of the situation.
“And this is the sense of urgency with which we receive the Situation Analysis of Children in Nigeria and the Multi-dimensional Child Poverty Reports. One that frankly challenges and calls to action every stakeholder, from the Federal Government to the States and Local Governments, from the media and civil society to development partners, caregivers and parents.”
He added that as Nigeria’s population continues to grow, “the socio-cultural and socio-economic factors that allow for these continued impediments to the well-being of our children are well within our control and we must rise up to our duties and responsibilities as governments and citizens to roll them back and roll them back speedily.”
While acknowledging the impact of political decisions across all levels of government to reverse the high number of out-of-school children, particularly in the North-East and North-West, the Vice President emphasized that “all of these must be complemented by moral and cultural changes, a rethinking of the value systems that subordinate the education and general well-being of children, particularly the girl-child, to diverging adult interests, changes that are more effectively carried out at the community and family level.”
He added that “the Federal Government will continue to lead the charge and our commitment and work in this regard will be all the more data-driven, helped along, in no small way, by the reports you present today.”
The Vice President commended the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, who hosted the event; the Permanent Secretary and all the collaborating MDAs, CSOs, and development partners “for their commitment and effective coordination in delivering a comprehensive analysis of the state of the Nigerian child.” At the event, which had in attendance dignitaries including senior government officials, Ambassadors and members of the Diplomatic Corps, among others, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning commended the VP for finding time to attend the event despite a very busy political season, in view of the presidential primaries slated for the end of this month.