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Women Affairs Minister Pauline Tallen, UNFPA Country Rep. Ulla Muller

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The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, says efforts are on to scale-up surveillance system and advocacy toward ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practice in the country.

She made this known at a joint ministerial press briefing to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation in Abuja on Friday.

The day is marked globally every Feb. 6 to create awareness on the harmful practice and efforts toward eradicating it across the world, and has “No Time for Global Inaction: Unite, Fund and Act to End Female Genital Mutilation” as its theme for 2021.

FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, a practice that has no health benefits for girls and women, declared as violation of the right of the female gender.

The minister, therefore, said that the ministry, with support from partners, made remarkable progress in the crusade to eradicate FGM and other harmful practices in the country.

She cited the establishment of a surveillance system and mobilisation of FGM champions to deliver door-to-door household discussions with community groups in Oyo and Osun states in the year, adding that “we hope to scale up this coverage.”

Tallen, who described the practice as a violation of human right with no health benefits for girls and women, noted that it could cause adverse consequences on the mental, psychological and physical health of survivors.

She said that the Child Rights Act and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, which had been domesticated in some states of the federation, would ensure that offenders were dealt with according to the law to serve as deterrent to others.

“For those who are not aware, Nigeria has in place, mechanisms to prosecute such offences,’’ she added.

Tallen, therefore, stressed the need to eliminate the practice to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets on health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth.

Ms Ulla Mueller, the Country Representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria, said the country represented 10 per cent of the 200 million girls and women that had experienced FGM.

Mueller added that the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the progress made toward achieving the SDGs goal five — ender equality and eliminating violence against women and girls.

She, therefore, stressed the need to empower women, work closely with men and boys, traditional and religious leaders, NGOs, CSOs, judiciary, law enforcement officers, media and others to eliminate FGM practice.

She noted that “we must also ensure equitable access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities to accelerate the elimination of FGM to contribute equitable social and economic development and ensure that no girl is left behind.”

Ms Rhoda Tyoden, the National President, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, said “anyone who performed or engaged another to carry out FGM committed an offence punishable by four years imprisonment or a fine of N200,000 or both.”

Tyoden called for increased sensitisation to end the practice, which she described as “discriminatory and degrading as it violated human rights of a person.”

Dr Laraba Shoda, the National President of National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), reiterated the commitment of the council toward sensitising women and communities on the ills of FGM.

Lola Ibrahim, Founder, Women Against Violence and Exploitation (WAVE) Foundation, stressed the need to prosecute those who practice FGM to serve as deterrent to others.

Ibrahim, who is also a third generation survivor of FGM, says providing alternative source of income for local FGM practitioners will discourage the practice in the country.

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Stakeholders are rallying support for the establishment of Anioma State

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Some stakeholders in Delta have declared support for the proposed creation of Anioma State.

Sen. Ned Nwoko(PDP Delta-North), had in bill presented recently before the Senate, proposed the carving out of Anioma state from the present Delta in the South-South region and make it the sixth state in the South-East region.

The stakeholders spoke at an interactive session with the media and interest groups on Thursday in Asaba, Delta.

Speaking at the forum, Dr Godwin Ossai, Ex-Dean, Novena University, Ogume, Delta, who hails from the Ndokwa/Ukwuani Federal Constituency, said that the creation of Anioma state had been generally accepted among the people of Delta-North Senatorial District.

According to him, wherever the issue of the creation of Anioma state is discussed, there is a general acceptance for its creation.

He urged the media to help disseminate, build consensus, truth and commitment of the constituent that made up the nine local government areas of Delta-North to manage the distractions that were emerging.

Ossai cautioned that it was better to first have the state rather than expressing fear for any marginalisation thereafter.

On his part, Dan Okenyi, former State Commissioner for Lands and Survey, said that the agitation for the creation of Anioma state dated back many years ago.

He said that some of them met the issues in 1977; then, as a movement, adding that it was rather disappointing to hear certain persons kicking against its creation.

“We are pained to hear people agitating against the creation of Anioma state; the state we are asking is for the nine local government areas currently in Delta-North; no other town in the South-East is to be added to the proposed Anioma state.

“We had a meeting with the Igbo senators and because of the marginalisation in the South-East, it is proper to create Anioma state to make it six states in the region.’’

According to Okenyi, the two senators from Delta-South and Delta- Central Senatorial Districts are in support for the creation of Anioma state.

He said that the creation of Anioma state could be done under the doctrine of necessity, adding that the people of Anioma should rather be happy and grateful.

While urging the media to support the move through adequate education of the people, he expressed hope that the Anioma project would be realised.

“This agitation is not about Sen. Ned Nwoko; yes, it is true that God is using him to champion the project,” Okenyi said.

In his remarks, Mr Victor Sorokwu, President General, Igbo Media Journalists, (IMJ), said that the agitation for Anioma state was dated back to the period of regional government in the country.

According to him, the agitation for Anioma state must not be seen as an embodiment of one man.

He said that there was need to sensitise the people on why Anioma state should be created.

Also speaking at the forum, Chief Ugo Ashibelua, Special Adviser to Sen. Ned Nwoko, said the people should look out for the merits of the project.

According to him, it is obvious that the Anioma people have close affinity with the Igbos in the South-East.

“Besides, what alternatives are there for those opposing the creation of Anioma state?’’ he asked.

He, however, urged the people to strive to achieve the creation of Anioma state in order not to become politically irrelevant.

In his contribution, the State Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ), Mr Churchill Oyowe, said that it was apt for the people to agitate for the creation of Anioma state.

According to him, Nigeria is a big administrative entity; the creation of Anioma state will create more opportunities for all.

He said that the Anioma state when created could sustain itself given the quantum of mineral deposits among other resources in the area.

Oyowe said that the creation of the state would ensure administrative efficiency and enhance development of the area.

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Lagos First Lady charges NYSC members to make positive impact in society

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The First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. Mrs Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, has called on corps members deployed to Lagos State for the mandatory one year national service to make a positive impact for the growth of Lagos and Nigeria as a whole.

Dr. Sanwo-Olu made the call today during an interactive session with the Y2024 Batch ‘B’ Stream 1 Corps Members undergoing orientation at the NYSC Camp, Iyana Ipaja.

She noted that the NYSC scheme has fostered youth engagement and sustained the vision of its founding fathers who believed in a united Nigeria despite the differences in language, culture and religion .

The First Lady lauded the corps members for their resilience and patriotic spirit in serving the Nation, stressing that their commitment in enduring camping activities, following laid down rules and regulations guiding the Orientation Programme was commendable.

“Your decision to serve Nigeria through this program reflects your commitment towards making a positive impact in the society,” she said.

Mrs. Sanwo-Olu seized the opportunity of the interactive session to enlighten the corpers about various programmes and interventions her Office undertakes to improve the quality of life in Lagos.

While educating the youth corps members about her current project tagged ‘War Against Drug Abuse in Lagos State, the First Lady pointed out that drug abuse has assumed an alarming rate, emphasising that the project rrequires public support in increasing the campaign messages and expanding its reach.

She added that her office is also involved in raising public awareness about the dangers of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, in addition to the provision of assistive and protective care for victims while ensuring access to justice.

Appreciating the officials of NYSC Lagos State for their tireless efforts in nurturing the future leaders, Dr. Sanwo-Olu assured the gathering of the government’s commitment to supporting initiatives that empower the youths for a bright future.

Earlier in her welcome remarks, the Lagos State Coordinator, NYSC, Mrs. Yetunde Baderinwa described the First Lady’s visit as a source of motivation and inspiration to the corps members serving their fatherland.

Mrs. Baderinwa appreciated the State Government for its selfless efforts in ensuring that issues concerning the Scheme get top priority, reiterating that the program will continually contribute to the development of the Nation.

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Tinubu tasks livestock reforms committee on agricultural productivity

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President Bola Tinubu has tasked the Presidential Committee on Implementation of Livestock Reforms to address obstacles to agricultural productivity.

The president inaugurated the committee on Tuesday in Abuja and appointed former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, as Co-Chairman of the Committee.

Tinubu said the livestock reform would open up new opportunities to benefit farmers, herders, processors and distributors in the livestock-farming value chain.

He emphasised that the implementation of the reforms would require the collective efforts of members of the committee, drawn from the public and private sectors, state governors and others.

“From here, I will appeal to everyone to remove every iota of partisan politics from this. I will assume the chairmanship of the committee as President and appoint Professor Attahiru Jega as my deputy or co-chair.

“This is not about politics; this is about opportunity. This is about our nation. While I may be absent, Jega will preside and continue to promote our objectives,” the President said.

He thanked the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, for his efforts in assembling experts to ensure the activation of opportunities in the livestock sector.

Tinubu stated that a Ministry of Livestock Development would be created to further explore the potential in the area.

“When we have great opportunities in our states, why should Nigerians continue to experience conflicts?

“With the calibre of people that are here, this presents a unique opportunity also to delineate and establish a centric ministry called the Ministry of Livestock Development.

“It will give us the opportunity so that our veterinary doctors can have the necessary access to research and cross-breed. We can stop the wanton killings,” said Tinubu.

He said that the traditional method of livestock farming would need to be reviewed and repositioned with the support of stakeholders, which included state governments, in order to open up new opportunities for growth and prosperity.

The president said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) would ensure the removal of all legal obstacles to the implementation of the reforms, while the Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani would provide support with automation.

“Modern technology is available to us. We are ready to work. I said at the beginning, with you, all of you, the solution is here, and we must run with it.

“Any law that might inhibit the promotion and actualisation of our objectives, the Attorney-General is here, please give it a priority; and the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning is here; create a budget for it to grow, and the Minister of Finance is here as well to work out the money,” the President stated.

He also said the reforms would be comprehensive and collective, urging the support of all stakeholders.

“We need to provide the incentive to enable Nigeria to finally take advantage of livestock farming; dairy products and cold-chain logistics, which collectively offer substantial commercial and economic advantages.

“We have seen solutions and opportunities. With these adversities that have plagued us over the years, I believe that prosperity is here – in your hands.

“The dairy industry contributes significantly to nutrition and food security by supplying essential proteins and vitamins, through milk and its derivatives, such as cheese, yoghurt, and butter,” he said.

He added that efficient cold-chain logistics was crucial in maintaining the quality and safety of the perishable goods from farms to markets, thereby reducing food waste and ensuring a steady supply.

“This sector will boost agricultural productivity, enhance export opportunities and stimulate economic growth by fostering a robust value chain that benefits farmers, processors, herders, distributors, and consumers alike,’’ the President said.

In his remarks, Ganduje, the former Chairman of the committee, thanked the President for taking further action, following the submission of a report on livestock reforms on Sept. 28, 2023.

“We will surpass your expectations and bring succour to Nigerians. Once again, we thank the President,” he said. 

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