President Muhammadu Buhari in the course of the week reiterated the determination of his administration to uplift the quality of life of the citizens in spite of the harsh socio-economic realities.
He said that the passion and zeal for improving the livelihood of Nigerians had not dwindled, calling for more steadfastness as Nigerians.
The president gave the assurance when he received former State Chairmen of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) at the State House, Abuja, on Tuesday.
He, however, urged political leaders to stay focused and uphold the ultimate objective of promoting interest of the country.
The president said the self-centeredness that led to the loss of about a million lives between 1967-1970 must not be allowed to repeat itself.
The president, who is also the Minister of Petroleum Resources, had also consented to the acquisition of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited by Seplat Energy Offshore Ltd., a Nigerian outfit.
ExxonMobil, the parent company had earlier entered into a landmark Sale and Purchase Agreement with Seplat Energy to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation of the U.
S.A.The agreement would also enable Seplat Energy to acquire share capital from Mobil Development Nigeria Inc., and Mobil Exploration Nigeria Inc., both registered in Delaware, USA.
Mr Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesman stated on Monday in Abuja that the president’s consent was in consonance with Nigeria’s drive for increased indigenous participation in the energy sector.
Also on Monday, the president congratulated the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Sports Federations and Associations on the performance of Team Nigeria at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Team Nigeria posted an impressive outing at the competition, finishing seventh on the medals table with 12 gold, 9 silver and 14 bronze.
On the same day, Buhari forwarded the name of Muhammad Sabo Lamido to the Senate for confirmation as Executive Commissioner, Finance and Accounts, for the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.
Buhari, in a letter addressed to President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, said Lamido was being nominated due to the death of Hassan Gambo, who occupied the position until his demise.
The president also received the new Executive Members of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.
At the meeting with the NMA officials, Buhari disclosed that the Federal Government had disbursed N100 billion to indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare investors as loans to expand their capital base.
He said it was also meant to boost local production of medicines and medical consumables.
Buhari stated that the loan was extended through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s support to the private pharmaceutical sector.
The president also announced the appointment of former Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office (EPO), Dr Habiba Muda-Lawal, as Special Adviser to him on Policy and Coordination.
Buhari also hosted the Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Organization, Simon Lalong, in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
Lalong, who is also the Governor of Plateau, said he was in the Presidential Villa to thank the president for approving the University of Jos as a national cancer centre.
He also lauded Buahri for granting presidential pardon to the former Governor of the state, Joshua Dariye.
According to him, the people of the State will remain grateful to the president for delivering a lot of democratic dividends to the State.
Also on Wednesday, President Buhari joined members of staff and political appointees in the State House in congratulating the Permanent Secretary, Tijjani Umar, on his 59th birthday.
The president congratulated Umar, his family, friends and professional colleagues on the auspicious occasion.
Buhari appreciated Umar’s efforts, sacrifices and dedication to effective management of the State House.
Buhari unveiled the 2023 National Population and Housing Census Project Document, aimed at promoting robust and informed national conversation on procedures for the census.
He unveiled the document at the National Stakeholders Summit on the 2023 census, organised by the National Population Commission (NPC), in collaboration with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Nigeria in Abuja on Thursday.
Buhari also hosted representatives of victims of Kaduna train abduction in Abuja, on Thursday.
According to the president, the Federal Government was doing everything within its powers to ensure the safe return of the remaining abducted passengers of the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna train.
He said, ”since the terrible and cowardly attack by the criminal elements on March 28, the nation had joined them to endure a period of difficulty and emotional pains.
” Buhari also explained his reason for discarding the use of lethal military force in extracting the remaining abductees.
The president, therefore, condoled with the families of the victims and those who lost their loved ones.
Buhari also on Thursday received the new President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray and his Management Team, telling them the kind of sub-regional body West African leaders desire and must have.
Buhari, also on Friday in Abuja, received the Management of BUA Group at the State House led by the Chairman, Abdul Samad Rabiu.
He also inaugurated the National Crisis Management Doctrine (NCMD), to bridge the gap created by extensive deployment of security services through fostering collaboration among Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The NCMD, which was developed by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), in coordination with relevant MDAs, would ensure greater successes in tackling national crisis.
The president concluded the week with a closed-door meeting with Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo in the presidential villa, Abuja, on Friday.
Uzodinma, who spoke to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting thanked the president for graciously granting his request that the Federal Medical Center (FMC), Owerri be converted to Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) Teaching Hospital.
He also disclosed that he sought president’s approval for the Alvan Ikoku College of Education to become Federal University of Education, Owerri The governor spoke extensively on the forthcoming 2023 General Elections.
HE urged the media to pay more attention to issues like the depletion of the country’s crude oil output and the unsettling security situation in the country.
Some participants at a UN Population Fund (UNFPA) town hall meeting with youths have urged the inclusion of youths in policy making process and governance at all levels of government in the country.
They expressed the view on Friday during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on the sidelines of the meeting taking place in Abuja.
Ms Uwaila Omosigho, the Programme Officer, Women Advocates Research Documentation Centre, said that inclusion of the youths at all levels of governance would engender the nation’s economic development and stability.
She said there was the need to engage the youths in policy making processes, especially in matters that affect them directly.
“Any decision taken on my behalf that I am not part of is not for me.
“The youths should be given a sense of belonging and recognition for national and economic prosperity,” she said.
Also speaking, another participant, Ms Blessing Agiri described youths as the bedrock of every society, who could not be left behind.
Agiri who called for total inclusion of the youths in all sectors of national and global development, said the event has educated her on the role of youths in national development.
She said there was the need to carry everyone along in all developmental efforts especially persons with disability.
Earlier, Dr Babatunde Adelekan, National Programme Officer, , UNFPA said that engagement of the youth was critical in attaining human capital development.
Adelekan affirmed the determination of the UN system to continue to support policies aimed at promoting youth empowerment and development.
He expressed confidence in the capacity of the youth to advance the progress of any society with innovation and ideas.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the town hall meeting is a four-day meeting bordering on skill, public health and education for the youths.
A Nigerian-based organisation, Hillspring Diagnostics, has won the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) global innovation award for one of the 10 projects that will advance the empowerment of women and girls worldwide.
The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria reports that UNFPA announced the 10 winners to its first ever Joint Innovation Challenge on Thursday.
Joint Innovation Challenge is a cutting-edge competition to provide funding for social enterprises with innovative solutions that advance the empowerment of women and girls worldwide.
Speaking on the award at a news conference in New York, UN spokesman, Mr Stéphane Dujarric, said 10 organisations that won the award are headed by women.
Dujarric said Hillspring Diagnostics from Nigeria came up with a revolutionary method for detecting ectopic pregnancy, a condition which can have dangerous consequences including death of the mother and baby if not diagnosed and treated in time.
According to him, organisations headed by women from other nine countries of Costa Rica, Armenia, Mongolia, Uganda, Turkey, Colombia, Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Cameroon were honoured.
Dujarric said the winners pitched a range of innovations – from a portable diagnostic system for pre-eclampsia to a board game that shares information on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“The 10 winners each received 60,000 dollars which will allow these organisations to move from pilot stage to scale,’’ he said.
The challenge was financed by UNFPA’s Equaliser Accelerator Fund, and implemented in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Trade Centre.
Entrants were given the incentive of a cash prize which would allow them to expand their ideas from the test stage, to full production, for the potential benefit of millions around the world.
The challenge received further funding from the Governments of Luxembourg, Finland, and Denmark.
Launched in 2021, UNFPA’s Fund provides equity-free investments in social enterprises that are led or co-led by women, and can show evidence of the impact they will have.
Reacting to the award, Dr Natalia Kanem, UNFPA’s Executive Director said, in relation to the competition, “creative thinking and innovative solutions are key to accelerate progress for women and girls around the world.
” According to her, the 2022 challenge is awarding 10 women-helmed organisations from five different regions globally.
Initially, a panel of experts received 300 submissions from 61 countries.
After 20 finalists pitched their innovative ideas to the panel, the eventual 10 winners then signed nine-month contracts with UNFPA and will be receiving an equity-free investment of 60,000 dollars.
The funding will allow winning organisations to transition away from the pilot stage, and begin manufacturing at scale.
UNFPA and its partners will also support the social enterprises with targeted mentorship, training opportunities, interactive workshops, and unique access to the global UN network.
The winning ideas varied in function, but were united in ingenuity, said the agency.
Other winners from Africa are the Global Pre-Eclampsia Initiative from, Uganda; Urukundo Initiative, Rwanda and Women in Entrepreneurship and Technology (WETECH), Cameroon.
Alhaji Sani Umar-Jabbi, the District Head of Gagi in Sokoto South Local Government Area of Sokoto State, has lauded UN Population Fund (UNFPA) interventions on maternal health in the area.
Umar-Jabbi said the maternal health and other supports had enhanced citizens’ lives in the state.
He made the remark when the UNFPA Programme Coordinator, Lead Officer, Kaduna Decentralised Office in Kaduna, Dr Polycarpe Takou, visited him in his palace.
He said the interventions had broaden public accessibility to healthcare services, especially on maternal health where associated deaths had drastically reduced.
He explained that the UNFPA built a labour waiting room for pregnant women at Gagi Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC), describing the initiative as “distinct.
” He said that the waiting room had reduced the sufferings of pregnant women during labour, as most of them travelled long distances to the PHC.
He noted that the Gagi PHC is being patronised by about 60 communities in three neighbouring local government areas but due to banditry activities, most communities have relocated to the area which contributed to the upsurge of patients.
He added that “many pregnant women seek accommodation in houses near the Gagi PHC to wait for delivery, as they find it difficult to go back to their homes in distant communities and start going to the centre again.
“The women prefer to stay around the PHC when due for delivery to avoid complications.
“The well furnished labour waiting room had help pregnant women from distant places to stay near the PHC until delivery.
“The labour waiting room has touched the lives of many women, while the PHC’s labour room has been upgraded, furnished and equipped for the women’s comfort.
“Before the UNFPA intervention in Gagi PHC, we used to record between six to 12 child deliveries in a month, however, with the improved services supported by UNFPA, the figure has increased to above 90 child deliveries per month.
“The intervention has increased access to overall family health, as community members are educated on importance of healthcare services through UNFPA support,” Umar-Jabbi said.
He explained that measures to maintain the facilities were put in place by PHC management and community groups because community ownership of projects was incorporated in all the programmes.
“This would also strengthen complete healthcare system and reduce maternal and infant mortality,” he said.
The district head also said that pregnant women attending antenatal care at different places came to Gagi PHC for delivery, while pregnant women in labour with suspected complications and those from poor family background and distant places are being prioritised at the established waiting room.
At the Maryam Abacha Women and Children Hospital which has a Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) Treatment Centre, the Chief Medical Director, Dr Bello Lawal, said UNFPA impacted positively on the lives of VVF patients because they receive free treatment, care and empowerment support there.
Lawal said the support led to upgrade of structures and equipment which enhanced fistula services and canvassed for further possible collaborations to enhance the wellbeing of citizens.
The team also inspected the Nana Khadija referal centre where Gender-Based Violance (GBV) survivors are being treated and supported in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Takou also inspected facilitaties, equipment, records and interacted with workers during the visit, which was part of his four-day maiden state working tour in Sokoto State.
Mr Clement Agba, Minister of Budget and National Planning, has restated the Federal Government’s commitment to the promotion of women and girls’ rights.
Agba made the pledge on Tuesday at the official launch of the “Promote My Sister” campaign by UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Abuja.
The campaign is a call to action by the UNFPA aimed at protecting girls and women while supporting them to achieve their dreams and aspirations.
Agba said that Nigeria, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, would not relent in addressing the menace of Gender-Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation in the country.
Mr Mathias Schmale, UN Resident Coordinator, said that the UN was working to improve the lives of women and girls while aiming at empowering them.
Schmale called for commitment to a future where women and girls would be safe and live their lives to the fullest.
According to him, women need to occupy prime positions across the globe.
He commended Nigerian women whom he said were exceling around the world, citing the likes of Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
On her part, Ms Ulla Mueller, Country Representative, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said that the essence of the campaign was for girls and women to protect each other.
Mueller, who expressed hope for brighter and better future for women and girls, said that women should be supported to make choices about their reproductive rights.
Meanwhile, Mrs Pauline Tallen, Minister of Women Affairs, commended UNFPA for the launch, saying that it was apt and timely in view of the rising wave of Gender-based violence.
Tallen was represented by Dr Asabe Bashir, Director General National Centre for Women Development.
The minister called for an end to male preference in families and situations where girls were not encouraged to go to school.
“We tried to run away in the back of a truck, but they caught us.
They took me, raped me and left me in the bush”.
Mahlet* was just 17 years old when she fled her home in November 2021 to escape the conflict raging in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia.
She did not regain consciousness until the next day.
Alone, terrified and in pain, she said, "There was no one around to help me."
The devastating conflict and insecurity in Ethiopia have decimated the health system, with most hospitals and medical centers looted or destroyed in the fighting.
Without access to sexual and reproductive health care, or any, when she decided to speak to UNFPA, Mahlet was seven months pregnant by her rapist.
“I kept it a secret because if one of the community leaders found out, they would be shocked and discriminate against me,” she said.
The crime of sexual violence is grossly underreported globally, but in conflict the obstacles to seeking and receiving help can become insurmountable.
Few survivors ever speak of their ordeal, fearing stigmatization by their families and communities, and the poignant realization that justice is likely to elude them anyway.
Constrained by a culture of silence, they dare not ask for the humanitarian assistance they should be receiving as a priority, as many are afraid of being discovered if they try to seek help.
A crisis in sight Mahlet arrived alone at Sabacre 4 camp in Mekelle for internally displaced persons, having lost her family in the chaos of hostilities.
Malnourished, exhausted and consumed with anxiety about the future she now awaited, she said she was relieved to be able to tell her story to a counselor at a UNFPA-supported women and girl-friendly space.
Friendly spaces are hubs where survivors can access psychosocial support, dignity kits containing health and sanitation items, and safe shelter referrals.
The centers offer food, medical care, legal advice, psychosocial support and life skills training, as well as a space for survivors to recover and begin the long process of rebuilding their lives.
Mahlet is just one of an unknown number of young girls desperately trying to navigate a situation they had no part in, forced to risk their lives to stay alive.
“This isolation is common among survivors of sexual violence,” said Senait Geber, who handles gender-based violence cases at one of the friendly spaces.
"They become invisible in the camp and resort to commercial sex and other activities just to survive."
Nearly 4 million people in Tigray and an estimated 10 million in the Amhara region are in need of vital health services, including sexual and reproductive support: more than 80 percent of the remaining health facilities in Tigray have no maternal health capacity, while that in the In the Afar region, only 1 in 5 facilities is currently working.
The UN humanitarian coordination office reports that protection against gender-based violence is almost non-existent, and that rape survivors have little or no access to clinical rape management or other basic services.
Provide a safe haven for recovery and healing Sexual violence can lead to a lifetime of physical and mental anguish.
Those who become pregnant and give birth often face social exclusion, abandonment and poverty.
“Many survivors say they would rather die than endure such trauma,” said a nurse at a UNFPA-supported one-stop center, another type of facility that brings together various forms of medical, reproductive health and other care.
Around 70 per cent of women in humanitarian settings report experiencing sexual violence, compared to around 30 per cent globally.
As an unaccompanied displaced teenager, Mahlet is among the most vulnerable in this dangerous and devastating crisis.
In northern Ethiopia, UNFPA supports 11 friendly spaces, which have assisted more than 15,000 women and girls so far this year, and 20 comprehensive centers.
In the Tigray and Amhara regions, UNFPA is also working with three shelters to enable survivors to recover through intensive counseling and support.
To date, almost 25,000 people in conflict-affected areas of northern Ethiopia have been reached through UNFPA-supported psychosocial counseling programmes.
There are about 130 children living in the Sabacre 4 camp without families: most of them are teenagers like Mahlet.
As Ms. Senait noted, some are resorting to transactional sex in exchange for food or a meager amount of cash.
"How can I carry on with this baby when I have to beg only for clothes and food?" Mahlet said.
"I can't even meet my own daily needs."
Of the 26 million people in Ethiopia in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, nearly three-quarters are women and girls.
The UNFPA 2022 Humanitarian Response Appeal requests nearly $30 million to respond to the urgent protection and health needs of women and girls in eight crisis-affected regions in Ethiopia.
Evolving health cum economic emergencies clearly highlight the urgent need for countries like Nigeria to adopt economic policies that are new, unusual, achieveable and effective.These will be aimed at accelerating improved human capital development, productivity and optimal harnessing of Demographic Dividend.Demographic Dividend, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), is the accelerated economic growth that may result from decline in a country’s birth and death rates and the subsequent change in the age structure of the population.Understandably, it is an economic boom achieved when there is increase in productivity with increase in the working age of the population structure and lesser dependency ratio.The trajectory of demographic dividend stems from economic boom of the four Asian Tigers namely Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan whereby the Asian Tigers economies recovered strongly as the world revived from financial crisis.The recovery, according to Dr Eyitayo Oyetunji, Federal Commissioner representing Oyo on National Population Commission (NPC), is highly attributable to government stimulus programmes in each region.Oyetunji explains that the programmes resulted in greater than four per cent growth in the GDP of each country in 2009. To mitigate the socioeconomic among other challenges, Nigeria is expected to rejig her economy.A league of health and economic experts hence call on Nigeria to invest rightly on education and health.Dr Dasogot Dashe of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) says that for Nigeria to achieve demographic dividend, sufficient investment must be made in education and health sectors of the country.Describing education and health as the rallying point of most sectors of the economy, Dashe says it is unfortunate that the two sectors are being neglected in terms of adequate funding.He says education, especially that of the girl-child, as well as health remain key in economic advancement of every nation.According to him, it is only when a girl-child is educated that she can be knowledgeable about fertility reduction through family planning.Consequently, Dashe emphasises the need for government at all levels and all times to ensure the availability and accessibility of quality healthcare for her populace for human capital development.Dr Olumide Okunola, Senior Health Specialist, World Bank, identifies poor implementation and monitoring of policies as the major challenges impeding the country’s achievement of demographic dividend.According to Okunola, global policies as Universal Basic Education (UBE) and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) must be domesticated practically and strictly in Nigeria to transit the country to enjoy demographic dividend.The World Bank health specialist enthuses that the usual complacency on out of school children especially girls must be jettisoned and a policy of mandatory education for all especially girls adopted.He expresses optimism on the impactful outcome of mandatory education for girls as having the potential to not just increase the country’s productivity level but reduce fertility rate of Nigeria.“Making sure a girl stays longer in school at least from primary to secondary school will prevent child marriage.“It will also reduce fertility rate as well as reduce maternal mortality by educating the girl on her sexual and reproductive health rights.” Advocacies for right investment are also made by Mr Shubham Chaudhuri, Country Director World Bank at different fora.Chaudhuri faults the subsidy investment on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) by Nigeria, saying such huge amount of money should be invested in education and health.He opines that government’s policies are critical in either achieving demographic dividend or disaster, hence Nigeria should embrace emphasis on beneficial economic roadmaps to attain sustainable development.These policies should be vehemently and indeed practically pursued with uncompromising implementation and monitoring.Also, government should begin to interrogate the efficiency of global goals as UBE and UHC to ascertain its impact.“Nigeria as a matter of urgency should rise above arm chair policy formulation but strict implementation like the Asian Tigers.“Nigeria, as the most populous country in Africa like the Asian Tigers, should strive to achieve economic growth through exports and rapid industrialisation.“Therefore, it is paramount for Nigeria to take advantage of its youthful bulge to drive productivity.” Nevertheless, Nigeria has a favourable demography, says Mr Clement Agba, Minister of Budget and National Planning, at the UN Population Fund’s Validation of 9th Country Programme Document (CPD) for the span of 2023 to 2027. Agba asserts that the country, with her youthful bulge, has an active and productive population structure that is highly productive for attendant demographic dividend.On his part, Dr Ejike Oji, Chairman Technical Management Committee Association for the Advancement of Family Planning in Nigeria (AAFP), identifies family planning as key to achieving sustainable development through harnessing of favourable demography.Oji says that until Nigeria’s fertility rate of 5.3 per woman is brought down minimally, achieving demographic dividend would remain a mirage.He explains that that access to quality healthcare is inevitable in achieving reduction in fertility rate.According to him, many women tend to have many children as a result of fear of infant mortality which points to the gap in quality healthcare.Understandably, government should take aggressive steps in closing the gap in maternal and infant mortality through vaccinations and antenatal care.This supports that girl and women education is fundamental to attaining human capital development or demographic dividend.Certainly, an educated girl or woman must know when to be pregnant and how many children to have and the facilities for infant vaccination to avert morbidities and mortalities.Indicators at the recent launch of the revised National Population Policy bring to fore the country’s quest to address high fertility rate, as President Muhammadu Buhari’s demonstrates the government’s commitment to addressing fertility rate of the country by launching the Revised National Population Policy on Feb. 3, 2022 .Dr Okai Aku, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN), expresses worry over Nigeria’s low Contraceptive Prevalence Rate which is 12 per cent.Aku advocates intensive expansion of access to modern contraceptive methods across the country to increase the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate. Also, Ms Margaret Edison, Director, Population Management, National Population Commission (NPC), reiterates the urgency to address Nigeria’s sustained high fertility rate, through expanding access to modern family planning, counselling and commodities as well as promote births spacing.Edison, who scores Rwanda high, urges Nigeria to achieve rapid fertility control, improve the health of women, adolescents, new born and children, and other population groups to achieve demographic dividend.She expresses the importance of investing in quality education of young people especially girls, human capital development, advancing holistic effort to achieve significant demographic transition.The Chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Nasir Kwarra, urges Nigerians to embrace the noble ideals of Planned Parenthood and healthy reproductive behaviours.He highlights the imperatives of “Rights and Choices” as embedded in UNFPA’s concept “Bodily Autonomy” which necessitates the urgency to shift the conversation from quantitative population to qualitative population.According to him, it is high time for Nigeria to harness her teeming 216 population from liability to asset by transforming the development landscape of the country.“The call to place emphasis on the people requires looking beyond the numbers to according attention to the profile and characteristics of the population..” Kwarra opines that such would be better explained by the age structure which shows the ratio of various age groups as a determining factor for the current and prospective fertility or reproductive status of the population.As such, focusing on numbers underplay the importance of “Rights and Choices”, he says.Kwarra like Mr Clement Agba, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, affirms Nigeria’s favourable demography.He explains that the country’s age structure favours young people, those below the ages 30 years who make up over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population On the other hand, Kwara says the current youthful age structure has the capacity to hold the momentum that would drive and sustain increase of the population growth into the future without immediate interventions.Interventions through provision of quality and sustained investments in healthcare particularly in family planning for women and Adolescents.Furthermore, transformative and relevant education for growing numbers of children and young people that fit in into the present and future jobs requirements, housing and decent employments across successive administrations and governance.That good governance through ingenious and people oriented policies are critical elements in achieving Demographic Dividend is axiomatic.Therefore, introspectively, the federal government, in fact the three tiers of government in Nigeria should vehemently address the emerging population challenges with germane and productive policies to achieve Demographic Dividend.Dr Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has argued that “Societies that invest in their people, in their Rights and Choices, have the proven that such investments create the road to enduring peace and prosperity everyone desires and deserves.” In line with this postulation, Nigeria needs to harness her favourable demography and use as a catalyst for economic growth.Nigeria is expected as matter of urgency to key into the scores of global Development plans to actually achieve their domestic desirable aspirations.This “miracle”, like the Asian Tigers, will be tenable when millions who are of working age are engaged productively Therefore, Nigeria at this juncture should vigorously pursue her National Development Plan of 2021 to 2025 to avert demographic disaster.Efforts must be in top gear to achieve reduction in Total Fertility rate of current 5.3 per woman especially Adolescent fertility of 104 children per 1000 women.Essentially, economic and health analysts therefore are urging Nigeria to match their words with action by harnessing the youthful bulge to achieve Demographic Dividend.In conclusion, reduction in high mortality and morbidity rates for children and adolescent mothers with heavy investment in the health and reproductive education remain non negotiable in achieving Demographic Dividend.In addition, importantly, girl child education should be considered national agenda both the at state and community levels in line with the UNFPA’s transformative results of ending preventable maternal mortality.Including unmet need for family planning as well as Gender Based Violence (GBV) and harmful practices for desirable healthy lives cum productive and healthy economy.Nigerian political gladiators both at national and sub-national levels should rise to the occasion by way of policy formulation, implementation and monitoring to transition her youthful bulge from liability to asset.NewsSourceCredit: NAN
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has reaffirmed its commitment to protect and empower the girl-child in Nigeria.
The Fund’s Country Representative, Ms Ulla Mueller, made the commitment at the Validation of the 9th Country Programme Document (CPD) of the Fund for Nigeria in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Fund’s 9th Country Programme (CP), spanning 2023-2027, will accelerate the country’s development aspirations.
NAN also reports that the UNFPA had been developing and implementing programmes to suit the needs, aspirations and development of countries across the globe.
The programmes are aligned to national priorities and the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2020-2025, contributing to its five strategic areas of Economic Development, Social Development, Strengthened Institutions; Peace, Security and Justice, and Environment.
In Nigeria, the Fund’s 8th CP which focused on tackling Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Maternal Mortality, Family Planning, among others, will lapse on Dec. 31, 2022, hence the need for a 9th CP so as to build on lessons learnt from the current cycle.
The CP will also enable UNFPA to work toward achieving the three transformative goals of zero unmet need for contraception; zero preventable maternal deaths; and zero GBV and harmful practices by the year 2030.
The Federal Government has expressed confidence in UN Population Fund’s (UNFPA) 9th Country Programme (CP), spanning 2023-2027 to accelerate the country’s development aspirations.
Mr Clement Agba, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, expressed the government’s confidence during validation of the UNFPA Nigeria Country Programme Document (CPD) in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that UNFPA had been developing and implementing programmes to suit the needs, aspirations and development of countries across the globe The programmes are aligned to national priorities and the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2020-2025, contributing to its five strategic areas of Economic Development, Social Development, Strengthened Institutions; Peace, Security and Justice, and Environment.
In Nigeria and other countries of the world, the Fund’s 8th CP which focused on tackling Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Maternal Mortality, Family Planning, among others, will lapse on Dec. 31, 2022, hence the need for a 9th CP so as to build on lessons learnt from the current cycle.
The 9th CP will also enable the Fund to work toward achieving the three transformative goals of zero unmet need for contraception; zero preventable maternal deaths; and zero GBV and harmful practices by the year 2030.
The budget and national planning minister, therefore, said that the 9th CP “points toward achieving specifically goals three and five of agenda 2030, which are to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all ages.
’’ He said “it will also achieve gender equality and empower women and girls.
"The village is very conservative, so it was a challenge to gain their trust," said Salma Abdel Moneim, a reproductive health worker in Menufiya, northern Egypt.
Through a UNFPA-supported community awareness club, Ms. Moneim advises young people in her village on crucial but sensitive issues including female genital mutilation, child marriage, contraceptive choice and gender equality.
She encourages young members of the club to speak openly about these often misunderstood topics, using education, music, interactive theatre, sports and art as platforms.
But Ms. Moneim explained that many in her community initially found it difficult to trust reproductive health arguments with which they disagreed, particularly the notion that female genital mutilation and sexual harassment are harmful.
Although data on the actual rates of female genital mutilation in Egypt are scarce, in part because it is illegal and often carried out in secret, the latest available estimates suggest that more than 90 per cent of women and girls undergo some kind of practice, while a staggering 2.5 million reported being sexually harassed.
To spark a broader discussion and in the hope of bringing together more young people from her village, Ms. Moneim asked some of her community leaders if they could help.
“They are respected and trusted,” she said.
“We explained the issues we wanted to discuss and how to address the issues facing women and girls in our community.” One leader agreed to join the sensitization sessions and brought some girls from the village with her.
Those girls then began to bring their mothers.
Basma Walid, 21, found out about the club from relatives.
“I learned about topics that I knew little about, like adolescent health and the harms of child marriage,” said Ms. Walid.
“The mothers who came with us also learned a lot about how to treat their teenagers.
People started counting each other and the numbers kept growing.” Uniting to break the silence A joint initiative between UNFPA and the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, some 400 population awareness clubs have been established across Egypt to inform and empower young people about their sexual and reproductive health and rights .
The topics covered, although sometimes controversial, have attracted growing interest.
“We started with just three people in a session, now we have more than 30 people,” said Ms. Moneim.
The clubs address the barriers women and girls face in accessing quality health services and challenge harmful social norms and attitudes, such as the sexual harassment they experience on a daily basis.
As Ms. Moniem recalled: “We were discussing whether harassment is ever justified by the clothes a woman is wearing.
The participants discussed it among themselves, until they came to the conclusion that a woman's clothes are irrelevant."
The clubs have gradually built a bridge of trust with the communities in which they work.
“We speak their language and we share their problems,” Ms. Moniem said.
"I wasn't telling them what to do, I was just giving them the information they needed to make their own decisions."
Widespread UNFPA support UNFPA has been working in Egypt for more than 50 years, working to expand access to sexual and reproductive health services, reduce maternal deaths and challenge harmful attitudes towards women and girls.
In 2021, UNFPA FGM protection, prevention and recovery programs reached nearly 1.3 million women and girls in Egypt.
More than 11,000 girls were also protected from forced or early marriage, and 67 communities launched advocacy platforms to encourage and inform others about the dangers of gender-based discriminatory social norms and practices.
To this end, population awareness clubs also engage men and boys in discussions of gender equality and reproductive health issues that they might not otherwise consider relevant to them.
“At first they were reluctant to hear or listen to this information from a woman,” Ms. Moneim said.
"But eventually I gained their trust by telling them about my own brother, for example, so they would understand that I could relate to them."
Ms. Walid added that she is spreading her own reproductive health knowledge to help others in her community: “I advise my aunt how she should talk to her teenage son.
Every time a topic that I learned about comes up, I now have something to say about it.”