…As G- STEP Scheme Kicks off in Gombe
Gombe State Governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya has performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the At-Risk Children Project ( ARC-P) in the State.
ARC-P is an initiative designed to provide a multi-pronged approach for the rehabilitation and reintegration of vulnerable children to support them attain their full potentials.
Performing the exercise at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya said the launching of At-Risk-Children Project (ARC-P) in the state will go a long way in giving the vulnerable children a sense of belonging.
The Governor said it was not a coincidence that the national launching of the At- Risk Children project took place in Gombe State, because according to him, with the signing of MoU with the ARC-P, his administration’s target was to further support at least 100,000 children and youth across the 11 LGAs to constructively live a life of dignity by providing them with necessary skills that would enable them harness their potentials and energies for the overall development of our state.
“Furthermore, out of our desire to tackle the problems of youth unemployment, we established a database for unemployed graduates in the state and so far we have registered over 17,000 job seekers and we are making concerted efforts to link them with necessary jobs that match their skills and training. The availability of this database put us ahead of other states in the selection of the pilot state for this project”.
“Through this partnership, we shall equally train and engage not less than 2,000 youth for the enforcement of environmental sanitation and protection as well as road traffic regulations in the first phase of the project”.
“In order to address these issues, the federal government through the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment came up with the At-Risk-Children Project (ARC-P) alongside other social intervention programmes so as to mop up these children and young adults from the streets and give them opportunities to realize their full potentials through a number of mechanisms being implemented at the state and local government areas level”.
Addressing this phenomenon, Governor Inuwa Yahaya maintained, will help to reduce poverty and insecurity while also providing solutions to the health, educational and social challenges facing these demographic group.
“On our part, our administration has keyed into all existing social intervention programmes and introduced new initiatives tailored towards finding and implementing local solutions to address the menace of out-of-school children, reduce poverty and provide job opportunities to our teeming youth. So far, we have mopped up over 300,000 out-of-school children and returned them back to classrooms.
Similarly, we have established 290 girl-child non-formal learning centres across all the LGAs and enrolled about 47,126 girl-child. Our girl-child skills acquisition programme has seen us training over 3,000 girls on beads making, bakery and cosmetology and provided them with starter packs to enable them engage in decent means of livelihood”.
He explained that his administration recently conducted an enumeration through the Better Education and Service Delivery for All (BESDA) project where it was estimated that there are over 700,000 out-of-school children spread across all the 11 Local Government Areas of the State, a statistics he noted was above the UNICEF’s estimated figure of about 550,000.
“The Almajiri system as practiced today is characterised by child neglect, abuse, social exclusion and chronic poverty thus churning out young people with little or no formal education and lacking employable skills thereby posing significant social and economic challenges to themselves, the government and the society at large”.
“To add to this, our girl-child population are mostly exposed to street hawking, child labour and often end up in commercial domestic services rather than pursuit of formal education in a bit to provide livelihood to their families. This exposes them to sexual exploitation and various degrees of gender-based violence”.
Other categories of vulnerable children whose plight still remains of great concern to governments, the Governor said, include drug and substance users, child hawkers and labourers and a growing population of unemployed young adults, saying these young people often become easy targets for recruitment into armed groups including violent religious extremism and insurgency.
He said in order to domesticate the convention on the rights of the child, his administration has drafted the child rights bill which is presently before the state house of assembly and has passed second reading.
The Governor said when passed into Law, it will provide the necessary legal framework for social protection in general and protect the rights of children in the state.
He said in order to facilitate the smooth take-off of the project, his administration has provided a befitting office accommodation, deployed relevant competent staff and appointed a project advisory committee to oversee the implementation of the interventions in the state.
“Our administration shall continue to partner with all relevant national and international organizations, development partners, traditional institutions, the civil society and religious groups in order to bring an end to the menace of out-of-school children and youth joblessness in Gombe State”.
Governor Inuwa Yahaya use the event to express his appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for introducing the ARC-P and the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Mrs Maryam Uwais for her doggedness and commitment in ensuring the project kicks off in the State.
He equally thanked Barrister Sani Ahmad Haruna, the Special Adviser on Human Capital Development for working tirelessly to put the necessary structures that will enable the State implement the project in the state.
The Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment and National Coordinator of At-Risk Children Project, Hajiya Maryam Uwais commended Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya for being the first in the country to attract the implementation of the Project in the State.
She described the support and the enthusiasm displayed by the government and people of the State towards successful implementation of the ARC Project as incredible and one action that will lead to the success of the project.
Earlier in an address of welcome, the chief of staff, Government House Gombe Abubakar Inuwa Kari said the scope of the At-Risk Children Project designed to protect the lives of children and the youth is one laudable initiative deserving of any responsible government.
He said the sincere and collective effort of all and sundry is needed to achieve the aims and objectives of the project which is aimed at giving disadvantaged children a new lease of life.
In a good will message Dr. Tusha Rani, the Chief of Bauchi Field Office of UNICEF said no child deserves to be exposed to unnecessary molestation and abuse and therefore praised the Gombe State Government for championing a bill for the protection of the rights of the child.
The event was also used for the official presentation of members of the Gombe Security, Traffic and Environmental Protection (G-STEP).
GSTEP is expected to engage 2000 youths across the State in the maintenance of security, traffic control and environmental protection.
Also speaking, the Project Coordinator and Special Adviser to the Governor on human capital development, Barr. Sani Ahmed said Gombe state was able to access a clean data of 500 from DFAM and 2000 data from MotherHen Development Foundation with a total number of 1,436 from oil millers, Baitul Arus, Gombe Youths and Women, Drug Abuse NGO; DAECO, Federal College of Education Technical, Electrical/ Tech, Federal College of Horticulture Dadinkowa, and Leather work beneficiaries were captured in the ARC- P database.