Gombe State Governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya has commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s Social Investment Programme for providing an excellent opportunity for every Nigerian child to earn a decent livelihood through its ‘At-Risk Children Project’, ARC-P, billed to be launched soon.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya gave the commendation at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU between Gombe State government and Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment on the newly introduced programme, ‘At-Risk Children Project’.
He expressed happiness that the federal government, through the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, is putting together a project that would complement the efforts of different state governments towards tackling the menace of out-of-school children, through the At-Risk Children Project (ARC-P).
Governor Yahaya noted that every state in Nigeria is facing the challenge of out-of-school children in their own peculiar way, saying, “in Northern Nigeria, the issue of out of school children can be summed up: to include Almajiri, girl child, children and youth on drugs, those affected by communal clashes and migrations, among other.
“This is an issue that has plagued Northern Nigeria for decades and has contributed to the increase of crime within the region, leaders in the region have met on several occasions to discuss and arrive at the best possible means of eradicating the issue, both collectively and individually.”
He said his administration has incorporated a multi-pronged approach towards tackling the menace of out-of-school children, noting that in 2019, through the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), his government enrolled 60,000 out-of-school children into public schools and that by 2020, the number had risen to 214,000 out of which 40,000 are girls that were enrolled into formal Girl-Child Learning Centers in the state.
In the same vein, the governor said his administration has collaborated with the National Board for Arabic and Islamic Studies (NBAIS) to formalise the Almajiri education system in the state by ensuring that the children who pass through the modern Tsangayya schools, and are found worthy in character and learning, are issued certificates by NBAIS.
“The collaboration with NBAIS also includes building the capacity of teachers in Tsangaya schools to be able to modernise and standardise the quality of education given to the children.
“When I received Maryam Uwais and her team in Abuja a few weeks ago, she made a wonderful presentation on what the project is designed to achieve, the processes, and the roles of all partners involved. After listening to her and her team, I had no doubt whatsoever that the At-Risk Children Project would help Nigeria go a long way towards winning the war against the societal ills caused by out-of-school children.
This is attributable to her reputation and her achievements in the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) of the federal government under her leadership”.
He assured Mrs Uwais and members of her team, of his administration’s full support, saying he looks forward to a successful kick off of the project in Gombe State.
“Hajiya Maryam Uwais and the presidency deserve every commendation for providing such an excellent opportunity for these conversations around, ensuring every Nigerian child is given an opportunity to earn a decent livelihood.”
He expressed gratitude to God for being part of the transformation of the younger generation through structured intervention programmes and urged the project to expand its platforms to engage many children and young people.
“The MOU signed today has clarified the roles and responsibilities of both the federal and our state governments, which include the appointment of a project lead, provision of an equipped office at State level, the deployment of State civil servants that have the requisite skills & to provide a work-plan for implementation in Gombe State. I would like to mention here, that we will work with Barr Sani Ahmad, a member of your team who happens to be from Gombe State as the Project Lead.”
He said the impact of adopting social interventions, vocational training and financial literacy programmes to address poverty had continued to facilitate economic growth in Africa and many other developing countries saying it is imperative that Nigeria and indeed Gombe State, also to leverage on this initiative, so as to wage war against poverty in our dear State.
Governor Yahaya acknowledged that there are bound to be challenges for such a serious and structured effort but he however assured that his administration will continue to engage the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment in order to overcome them.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya thanked the development partners, who have continued to engage with his administration for a better understanding of his transformation agenda and in the process offering valuable and constructive advice on how to enhance meaningful efforts.
“I would like to state that, we all are stakeholders in these processes and so I call on everyone to join me as we collectively begin to prepare our participation in the ARC-Project for our children and the younger generation yet unborn”.
The governor commended the president for the initiative, expressing the hope that Gombe State and the country at large will benefit immensely from the At-Risk Children Project (ARC-P).
The special adviser to the president on social investment, Maryam Uwais said the At-Risk Children Project cannot exist without the buy in of the State, adding that they were in the Gombe to leverage on existing initiatives and interface with relevant stakeholders on how best to improve the lot of children and youths that are at risk.
Mrs Uwais thanked Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya for displaying leadership and commitment towards the smooth take off of the project in the State and its eventual successful implementation for the benefit of Gombe State vulnerable children and the youth.
Earlier in an address of welcome, the first lady of Gombe State, Hajiya Asma’u Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya said the innocence of a child reflects the beauty of life but however observed with dismay that children are currently fighting to survive a world already vulnerable made even riskier by lockdowns, Schools closure, rising prices and other challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The number one risk factor that makes children vulnerable is poverty. From statistics, 428 million children within the age of zero to seventeen years live in extreme poverty while 150 million girls have experienced sexual abuse, two million children live in institutional care and 218 million children engage in various forms of exploitation.