By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Efforts would be made to provide protection for the over 9 million unprotected children in Nigeria, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais, has assured.
The President’s aide said this category of children, who deal daily with violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation and exclusion, would be supported through the At-Risk Children Project (ARC-P).
She explained that the vision of ARC-P is to comprehensively address cross-cutting concerns of at-risk children and provide them with a life of dignity.
“In the family and communities, children should be fully protected so they can survive, grow, learn and develop to their fullest potential,” Mrs Uwais said at the unveiling of the programme in Lagos.
The ARC-P is a strategic national response to address the problem of vulnerable children coordinated by her office. The initiative, according to her, will nurture children with dignity and respect, raise equality citizens and bridge the poverty gap.
It reports directly to the National Steering Committee of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The mission of the project is to “facilitate programmes that will ensure the integration of at-risk children and young adults by creating opportunities for skills and empowerment to reduce their vulnerabilities.”
“A key objective of the program will provide protection and hope to youth and children who are vulnerable, for a productive life through learning, combined with improved health outcomes, values and skills.
“It will also provide meaningful, impactful and pragmatic quality programs that empower the children to become productive to themselves, their families, communities and society,” Mrs Uwais added.
The programme, she further disclosed, would “leverage on successful tried and tested intensive learning initiatives. Expand, deepen and broaden the scope of other programmes on the ground. Coordinate, add value and set basic standards through trained facilitators within the State for sustainability.”
“In addition to the existing learning options, literacy and numeracy, introducing civics, critical thinking, life skills, entrepreneurship, sports, creativity, technology, farming and vocations, community police training. Address mental and physical health concerns, assess and address vision, hearing and special needs, boost nutrition through a feeding programme,” the Special Adviser noted.
She disclosed that the programme would be institutionalised to continue beyond the current administration and called for support from corporate Nigeria to implement interventions including basic literacy and numeracy, health and nutrition, entrepreneurial, financial literacy and vocational skills and digital skills.
Mrs Uwais said they could sponsor any of the programmes and assured that all monies would be accounted for because good corporate governance is a core of ARC-P.
Responding, some of the companies under the Organised Private Sector (OPS), including Lafarge Africa Plc, ANAP Holdings, Airtel Nigeria, International Finance Corporation, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Wema Bank, Aliko Dangote Foundation, FBN Quest Trustees, StanbicIBTC, InterSwitch, Murtala Muhammed Foundation and Accelerex Network, all commended the initiative.
They noted that it was an innovation that would help resolve the out-of-school children problem and insecurity.
“This is an outstanding innovation. I’ve been doing this for about seven years, and I’ve never really thought about getting the kids off the street.
“We do education, but we never looked at it from this angle. So, I think this is commendable,” the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Airtel Nigeria, Ms Chioma Okolie, said.
As for the Head of Corporate Strategy at Wema Bank, Mr Femi Akinfolarin, “This is the single largest problem in Nigeria; unemployment and these youths coming out without skills, without being able to do anything.
“So, it’s top of mind right now. We need to position this initiative as a solution to an evolving problem and thus create an urgency that will make the government and private sector accelerate their reaction to what’s going on.”
The private firms also advised on strengthening the initiative for maximum impact while seeking clarifications from both Mrs Uwais and officials of FBN Quest Trustees, the project’s fund managers.
LG Polls: Ogun Imposes Movement Restriction
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Ogun State Government has announced a statewide restriction of movement between 7 am and 4 pm on Saturday, July 24, 2021, to allow for the conduct of local government elections.
The State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Abdulwaheed Odusile, said the restriction was at the instance of the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission (OGSIEC), which is conducting the councilorship and chairmanship elections in all the 236 wards across the 20 local government areas in the state.
However, during the period of the restriction, voters will be free to move to their polling centres within their neighbourhood and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.
The statement urged the electorate to be peaceful and avoid any act that could tarnish the hard-earned reputation of Ogun State as one of the most peaceful states in the country.
This is coming after the Lagos State Government restricted movement between 8 am and 3 pm on Saturday for the same purpose.
Mr Gbenga Omotoso, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, had said in a statement Thursday that the restriction will enable the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) to conduct hitch-free elections across the 57 local government areas and local council development areas in the state.
“The restriction will facilitate the ease of movement of the electorate, election materials and LASIEC officials for the sanctity of the election, effective monitoring and enhanced security,” Mr Omotoso said.
Everybody Needs PR—Yomi Badejo-Okusanya
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Group Managing Director of CMC Connect BCW, Mr Yomi Badejo-Okusanya (YBO), has emphasised the importance of Public Relations to organisations and individuals, saying everybody needs PR.
Mr Badejo-Okusanya, who doubles as the president of the African Public Relations Association (APPA), therefore, submitted that efforts should be made to have a better understanding of the profession, noting that PR is different from journalism but both work together to achieve great results.
He called on organisations, leaders, nations, policy and decision-makers to never overlook the value that PR brings to the table.
“Many still bear in mind that PR is only about press releases and organising events whilst those with an understanding of the weight PR professionals pull as a result of their expertise have yielded great results for themselves,” he said.
Mr Badejo-Okusanya, while speaking on the first-ever World PR Day held on July 16, 2021, charged practitioners to push forward the agenda of PR in their daily dealings, stressing that “PR needs PR.”
The APRA leader said the decision to set aside a day for PR and a unified global agenda was indeed a welcome development, stressing that, for the past 33 years, APPA has been able to gather PR Practitioners in Africa and recently across the globe under one roof to push forward the agenda of PR, the profession itself and discuss issues, trends and solutions to PR needs.
“I am delighted because this day speaks to the fact that our effort is yielding results in ways that will take the profession to the level where it belongs and better utilized by organisations, businesses, nations, brands, individuals, decision and policymakers.
“Truth is, everybody needs PR. It is part of our daily lives and PR is about telling a compelling story! This call for unity on a day such as this will bring about great opportunities and collaborations that will be beneficial to our profession in the long run,” he said.
MIIVOC to Train FIRS Officials on FOI Act
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A group known as the Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) is taking steps to improve the knowledge of government officials in the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act of 2011.
Already, it has concluded arrangements with the management of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) to train key personnel on the provisions and application of the law.
“Knowledge and capacity on the FOI Act are still very low in the country. There is a need for training and retraining of representatives of public institutions on the provisions and applications of the Act.
“Poor understanding of the provisions of the FOI Act is one of the reasons for its poor implementation in Nigeria, particularly, among state actors,” the Executive Director of MIIVOC, Mr Walter Duru, said.
“Section 13 of the FOI Act makes it mandatory for public institutions to ensure the provision of appropriate training for its officials on the public’s right to access information or records held by the government or public institutions, as provided for in this Act,” he added.
“Pursuant to section 13 of the FOI Act, the present management of FIRS approved the training for relevant officials of the Service on the FOI Act, with the view to ensuring increased compliance. The training is to be held on Thursday and Friday this week in Abuja,” Mr Duru also stated.
The MIIVOC chief, who also chairs the board of the Freedom of Information Coalition, Nigeria called on other public institutions in the country to take steps towards enhancing the capacity of their officials through regular training and retraining on the provisions of the Act.
He also called on Nigerian citizens to take advantage of the FOI Act to hold governments at all levels accountable.
Mr Duru, an Assistant Professor of Communication and Multimedia Design at the American University of Nigeria, Yola is the leader of the non-state actors drive on FOI Implementation in Nigeria – Chairman of Freedom of Information Coalition in Nigeria.
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