Gov. Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe on Monday inaugurated the Federal Government’s supported At Risk Children Project (ARC-P), targetting about 100,000 out-of-school children in the state.
Inaugurating the project, Yahaya said the ARC-P focused at providing life of dignity support to indigent children in 11 selected local government areas of the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gombe State Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment on the ARC-P.
NAN also reports that the project is designed to complement the efforts of the state governments in tackling the menace of out-of-school children.
Yahaya said the targeted children would be provided with necessary skills to enable them to harness their potentials and energies for the overall development of the state.
He said the state government had keyed into the ARC-P and other existing social intervention programmes tailored towards finding and implementing local solutions to the menace of out-of-school children.
The project, he said, would also reduce poverty and provide job opportunities to the teeming unemployed youths.
“Addressing this phenomenon will no doubt help to reduce poverty and insecurity as well as address the health, educational and social challenges facing the target group.
“Nearly 70 per cent of the at risk children are found in northern Nigeria where the menace of Almajiri system is widely practiced and had become endemic.
“Available data estimates that there are about 13.2 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, equivalent to about 7 per cent of the country’s entire population with 70 per cent of these children found in northern Nigeria.
“In Gombe State; recent enumeration conducted by our administration through the Better Education and Service Delivery for All (BESDA) project, estimated that over 700,000 out-of-school children are spread across the 11 local government areas, quiet above the UNICEF estimated figure of about 550,000,” he said.
In a remark, Hajiya Maryam Uwais, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, commended the state government for being the first to key into the programme, saying that the gesture would go a long way in keeping the youth busy.
Also speaking, the ARC-P Coordinator in the state, Mr Sani Haruna, said the project had already commenced work with line ministries and departments to facilitate its successful implementation in the state.
Haruna listed the ministries to include Education, Women Affairs and Social Development as well as Agriculture and Rural Development. some of the MDAs
Others are Commerce and Industry; Science, Technology and Innovation; Youths and Sports as well as the state’s Sports Commission.
Haruna assured that with the support and cooperation of the government, particularly the Office of the wife of the Governor, Hajiya Asmau Yahaya, the programme would be a huge success.
In a goodwill message, Dr Tushar Rane, UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, commended Gombe for being the pioneer state for the programme.
He said the move would go a long way in addressing the problems associated with the child protection and development, adding that the UN agency would continue to partner with the state in that direction. (NAN)