Stakeholders’ Summit Of The At-Risk Children’s Programme, ARC-P On 10/02/2022

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Video Transcript







We have heard already of the specific aims and objectives of the At Risk Children’s Programme-ARC-P in the comprehensive overview just presented. I doubt whether anyone is in doubt about the urgency of the moment with respect to providing the necessary lifelines, confidence and support to vulnerable children and youth to enable them to take ownership of their lives with dignity. The problem however is a complex one, first, we have an unacceptably high number of out of school children, (children of school age).


Then we have a high number of young people long past primary school age, who roam the streets with no education and no formal employable skills. Of this category are a large number of young women.


Then we have yet another vulnerable category: children and young persons, especially females who are victims of abuse, and trafficking. With a population of over 200million and we are adding 5 million more people every year, with over 60% being young people, there is a clearer sense of the present and the potential problem. How do we tackle the sheer enormity, multiplicity and complexity of the problem?


Surely it cannot be the Federal government alone, this is a federation, and both primary, secondary education and healthcare are constitutionally State functions. So, there are jurisdictional and structural problems to take care of.


The Federal government has in response taken a multidimensional approach. In 2019, the President made two crucial policy statements – the first was the plan of government to lift a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.


The second was the strict enforcement of the laws on free and compulsory education for all children at the primary level. The President emphasized that it is a criminal offence in Nigeria to fail or refuse to implement the law.


In the same year, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development was established to implement the highly successful Social Investment Programmes of the government aside from responsibilities for humanitarian, safety and disaster management.


In 2016, the Rule of Law Advisory Team was established in the Presidency. One of the team’s main tasks was to ensure that, following the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, there is an effective coordination of responses to cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV). Since then, the team has supported the establishment of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Response Teams across the country.


Last year on the advice of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, the President inaugurated The National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy Committee with the omnibus term of reference of implementing any other effort that would enhance the attainment of the objective of lifting 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years.


So, the At-Risk-Children’s Programme ARC-P, domiciled in my office, is one of the independent initiatives of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy Committee. It is an important component of the variety of government interventions designed to complement and support existing initiatives of our administration in dealing with the problems of vulnerable children and young people.


The Programme will provide a safe space for the mentoring and training of these children with a specific emphasis on basic literacy and numeracy, health and nutrition, entrepreneurial skills, digital skills, sports and life skills and other related skills.


At the heart of the At-Risk Children’s Programme is the idea that every Nigerian child counts. A nation will be measured ultimately by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. We recognize that we cannot make progress as a people while a significant population of our children – those to whom the future belongs – are left on the margins of society, deprived of the opportunity to discover and fulfil their potential.


ARC –P is aimed at giving a new lease of life to millions of children, who through no fault of theirs, have found themselves without hope or support.


In times of national emergency, the divisions between the state, civil society and the private sector are unhelpful. All sectors must make it a common cause because it is the right thing to do.  In no effort is the old adage truer that it takes a village to raise a child. The fate of our most vulnerable children is a cause that should bring all of us in the government, in civil society and from the private sector together in a massive collaborative effort.


So let me express our sincere appreciation to State Governors who have so far signed up for the At-Risk-Children’s Programme ARC-P. We particularly commend the Governors of the pilot States, Borno, Sokoto, Gombe, Kaduna and Ekiti, as well as other State Executives that have indicated interest in joining this multi-stakeholder effort geared towards restoring hope to millions of marginalized young Nigerian citizens all over the country.


I am also gratified to see that our development partners, the private sector, civil society and friends of Nigeria in different fields have identified with ARC-P in this renewed effort to positively change the fortunes of our young people.  Their support had been invaluable especially in the five pilot States. The Local Government Authorities as well as our religious and traditional institutions have also been instrumental to the successful take-off of the At-Risk-Children’s Programme ARC-P.


These efforts must be aligned to work in tandem, especially because they need to be addressed in a manner that also engages with other deprivations around health and empowerment.


The Federal Government will continue to provide the leadership, support, finance and logistics needed to ensure that this Programme achieves its goals. We will continue to seek the close partnership of Nigerians across all sectors, to guarantee its sustainability, scale and impact.


The only way to guarantee the long-term peace and prosperity of our communities is to invest in our children by providing opportunities for them to thrive and be productive within their chosen paths, thereby giving them hope for a better future.


Finally let me commend Hajiya Maryam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Programmes, the coordinator of the ARC-P programme, and her slim and nimble team for their passion and commitment to this cause. And also, for the very hard work of putting together the States collaboration that has made the ARC-P project possible. Well done indeed.


Your Excellencies, honoured guests we have begun a journey that must give succour and hope to millions of vulnerable young people. It is a great comfort and encouragement to know that we do not walk this path alone, thank you all for your support.


May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.