21st October, 2021
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday said the future of the nation is worth fighting for.
He added that the various intervention programmes of the Buhari administration since 2015 to date were designed and implemented in order to improve the health, education and socio-economic conditions of the Nigerian people, especially women, children and youths.
Osinbajo stated this in Abuja at an event to mark six years of the Future Assured programme, an initiative of the Aisha Buhari Foundation. Later same day, the Vice President also spoke at the public presentation of Senator Ken Nnamani’s book, Standing Strong.
According to the Vice President at the Future Assured event, “the very future of Nigeria and our communities depend on how well we address the many concerns of women and children in our communities, especially the focal areas of health, education and economic empowerment.
“We agree with Future Assured’s belief that all social indices can be influenced if the health, education and economic status of the population are improved upon. And that is the case, clearly, women constitute half our population and the youth are at least 60% of that population. Women especially, young girls, continue to face problems of every kind and this problem mutate as the social pressures increase every passing day.”
Continuing, he said, “since the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns, it has been shown by empirical studies that the rates of dropouts, especially of girls, have increased, child marriages also increased, adolescent childbearing, and gender-based violence, all these indices increased.
“The sharp drop in income for most families here in Nigeria and in most economies of the world would mean that families will have to make choices that almost always will disfavour the girl-child and of course, female children have suffered disproportionate displacement and deprivation caused by the insurgency and conflict in the Northeast and Northwest.”
He then explained that “for the Federal Government, the President has prioritized the solutions to these issues. Since 2015, we have ensured that government’s social and entrepreneurial programmes have an affirmative component for women.”
“So, of the 2.4 million beneficiaries of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, 1.2 million were women – that is 56.4% of beneficiaries. A total of N38billion in loans has been disbursed over the last 4 years. Of the 1.1 million beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfers, over 98% of beneficiaries are women,” the VP disclosed.
He said “for our youth employment programme N-Power, of the 526,000 employed, 40.4% are female. And of the 106,074 cooks in our Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, 97% are females.
“We implemented a payroll support programme which was designed to mitigate income losses in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and of the 307,173 employees that have benefited, 130,880 or 43% of beneficiaries are female-owned businesses.
“Of 94,318 artisan beneficiaries of the programme, 40,386 are female artisans, i.e., over 41% of beneficiaries. And so far, 35% of all MSMEs grants are female. And all of these are deliberate affirmative action to ensure that women benefit proportionately.”
The Vice President stated that “in 2020, the Federal Executive Council approved a World Bank credit facility in the sum of $500million to finance the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Project, to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas of participating States which are Borno, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Plateau.”
In addressing violence and other abuses against women, the VP said “in November 2019, in an effort to enhance access to justice, we secured a toll-free emergency number and shortcode for the FCT- SGBV Response Team, with the generous support of Airtel.
“We also developed Referral Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Response in Nigeria and a National Guide for the Establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria, to further enhance coordination.”
“Also in 2019, the President directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a special panel to investigate cases of unlawful arrests, assault and Sexual & Gender-Based Violence in the Federal Capital Territory following complaints of raids of night clubs and arrests of women by the Police,” the Vice President added.
Commending the Future Assured programme for the impact of its interventions across health, education and social welfare, Prof. Osinbajo said “it certainly has been an exciting 6 years”.
He listed some of the impactful projects executed by the initiative as “the educational initiatives, especially the Youth Education Empowerment Programme (YEEP) where large numbers of youths are given tutorial classes, in preparation for WAEC, NECO, NABTEB and JAMB; support to IDPs that return to their communities with relief materials including foodstuff, clothing, beddings, and building materials.
Other projects listed by the VP include “Building of Schools and Orphanages in Maiduguri; Distribution of Future Assured Packs to Patients in Abuja Hospitals, Free Health Screening Services in Kogi State in conjunction with Kogi Women and Youth Advancement Foundation; Women Empowerment and Training in Lagos State alongside Distribution of Maternity Kits also in Lagos, among others.”
Aside from the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, other dignitaries present at the event include the wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; his counterpart in the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, and top United Nations officials, among others.