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The various intervention programmes of the Buhari administration since 2015 to date are designed and implemented in order to improve the health, education and socio-economic conditions of the Nigerian people, especially women, children and youths, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this Thursday in Abuja at an event to mark six years of the Future Assured programme, an initiative of the Aisha Buhari Foundation. Later same day, the Vice President also spoke at the public presentation of Senator Ken Nnamani’s book, Standing Strong.

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According to the Vice President at the Future Assured event, “the very future of Nigeria and our communities depend on how well we address the many concerns of women and children in our communities, especially the focal areas of health, education and economic empowerment.

“We agree with Future Assured’s belief that all social indices can be influenced if the health, education and economic status of the population are improved upon. And that is the case, clearly, women constitute half our population and the youth are at least 60% of that population. Women especially, young girls, continue to face problems of every kind and this problem mutate as the social pressures increase every passing day.”

Continuing, he said, “since the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns, it has been shown by empirical studies that the rates of dropouts, especially of girls, have increased, child marriages also increased, adolescent childbearing, and gender-based violence, all these indices increased.

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“The sharp drop in income for most families here in Nigeria and in most economies of the world would mean that families will have to make choices that almost always will disfavour the girl-child and of course, female children have suffered disproportionate displacement and deprivation caused by the insurgency and conflict in the Northeast and Northwest.”

He then explained that “for the Federal Government, the President has prioritized the solutions to these issues. Since 2015, we have ensured that government’s social and entrepreneurial programmes have an affirmative component for women.”

“So, of the 2.4 million beneficiaries of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, 1.2 million were women – that is 56.4% of beneficiaries. A total of N38billion in loans has been disbursed over the last 4 years. Of the 1.1 million beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfers, over 98% of beneficiaries are women,” the VP disclosed.

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Continuing, he noted that “for our youth employment programme N-Power, of the 526,000 employed, 40.4% are female. And of the 106,074 cooks in our Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, 97% are females.

“We implemented a payroll support programme which was designed to mitigate income losses in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and of the 307,173 employees that have benefited, 130,880 or 43% of beneficiaries are female-owned businesses.

“Of 94,318 artisan beneficiaries of the programme, 40,386 are female artisans, i.e., over 41% of beneficiaries. And so far, 35% of all MSMEs grants are female. And all of these are deliberate affirmative action to ensure that women benefit proportionately.”

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The Vice President further stated that “in 2020, the Federal Executive Council approved a World Bank credit facility in the sum of $500million to finance the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Project, to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas of participating States which are Borno, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Plateau.”

In addressing violence and other abuses against women, the VP said “in November 2019, in an effort to enhance access to justice, we secured a toll-free emergency number and shortcode for the FCT- SGBV Response Team, with the generous support of Airtel.

“We also developed Referral Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Response in Nigeria and a National Guide for the Establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria, to further enhance coordination.”

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“Also in 2019, the President directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a special panel to investigate cases of unlawful arrests, assault and Sexual & Gender-Based Violence in the Federal Capital Territory following complaints of raids of night clubs and arrests of women by the Police,” the Vice President added.

Commending the Future Assured programme for the impact of its interventions across health, education and social welfare, Prof. Osinbajo said “it certainly has been an exciting 6 years”.

He listed some of the impactful projects executed by the initiative as “the educational initiatives, especially the Youth Education Empowerment Programme (YEEP) where large numbers of youths are given tutorial classes, in preparation for WAEC, NECO, NABTEB and JAMB; support to IDPs that return to their communities with relief materials including foodstuff, clothing, beddings, and building materials.

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Other projects listed by the VP include “Building of Schools and Orphanages in Maiduguri; Distribution of Future Assured Packs to Patients in Abuja Hospitals, Free Health Screening Services in Kogi State in conjunction with Kogi Women and Youth Advancement Foundation; Women Empowerment and Training in Lagos State alongside Distribution of Maternity Kits also in Lagos, among others.”

Aside from the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, other dignitaries present at the event include the wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State; Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; his counterpart in the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, and top United Nations officials, among others.

In another development, Prof. Osinbajo spoke at the public presentation of the book titled “Standing Strong: Legislative Reforms, Third Term and Other Issues of the 5th Senate,” a biography of Sen Ken Nnamani.

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Extolling the leadership qualities of Sen Nnamani, Prof. Osinbajo said “the first thing you notice about Ken Nnamani, especially as you observe the characteristics of politics and politicians, is an act of lack of desperation to occupy political office.”

Directing his comments to the former President of the Senate, the VP said “it is clear that you want to serve, but not at all cost.”

Continuing, he observed that the “lack of desperation has greatly helped him in having the courage of his convictions. This is why even at the risk of losing his senate presidency at the time, he stood against the notorious third term agenda and he stood very strong.

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According to the VP, “a nation such as ours must have men and women who are capable of standing strong.

“Sen. Nnamani, we are today faced with challenges that call for the same type of strong leadership that you showed many years ago as President of the Senate, especially on the question of national unity and the building of a just fair and equitable society.

“We know that we as a nation are better together than apart, and our collective future is worth fighting for. Therefore, this generation of leaders has a historic responsibility to handover an economically and socially strong, and united nation to the coming generation.”

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Dignitaries present at the book event were Gen. T.Y. Danjuma (rtd); Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; Ministers of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonaya Onu; Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio; Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, and Royal Fathers among others.

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Nigeria

Queen Josephine Steps Down as Chairperson Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Wives Association after years of meritorious service

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It was a moment full of emotions, celebration, and expressions of love and gratitude as the tenure of the Queen of Twon Brass Kingdom, Her Royal Majesty Dr. (Barr) Dame, Evangelist Josephine Diete-Spiff, came to an end as the Chairperson of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Wives Association (BSTWA).

Queen Josephine, who also doubles as the President of the Niger Delta Royal Queens Initiative, subsequently handed over the Secretariat to the new leadership after occupying the Royal position for eight (8) years, from 2014 to 2022. The Royal Queens in Bayelsa State described her tenor as incredibly impactful and the best in leadership ever seen.

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She spoke during the handing over ceremony at the Traditional Rulers Council office complex in Yenagoa on Thursday, April 22, 2022. Queen Diete-Spiff expressed her profound gratitude to their Excellencies Senator Henry Seriake Dickson and Senator Douye Diri for their benevolence, adding that she stayed in office for eight years instead of the usual four years by God’s providence.

She also thanked and appreciated the Royal Queens of Bayelsa State for their support throughout her tenure as the Chairperson.

Queen Diete-Spiff said, “I have called this meeting to let you know that I am stepping aside; my tenure ought to have ended four years ago, but by God’s providence and the pleasure of their Excellencies, Senator Seriake Dickson and Senator Douye Diri to whom I am grateful, I have stayed this long as Chairperson of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Wives Association. I have occupied this position for eight years.

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“Thank you, my Queens. I appreciate you all for the period you served with me and the support you gave me. I cannot thank you enough. My special thanks to our Secretary, Her Majesty Tecy Diongoli, for her kindness, for being fantastic at her job, and for superbly holding her position. For without her, the ride would have been more turbulent.

“I thank you all who showed up today and those who gave their apologies because of the short notice. Your collaboration made things easy for the secretariate. The association could not have functioned without you because if meetings and programs are called and no one shows up, there will be no leadership. I urge you to give the same support to the new Chairperson of our organization because the administration cannot be offered in isolation from the people. Meanwhile, I appreciate you all for all you did that made my tenure as Chairperson of BSTWA successful.

“Going forward, as the President of the Queens of the Niger Delta, I hope to still carry you, my Queens, along with me at that level. As Bayelsa Queens, you all will still be part of our occasions, programs, and events. So, I am still with you all, a part of you. After all, I am a Bayelsa woman, I am a Bayelsa Queen.

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“Nonetheless, I am still here to encourage the new Chairperson if she desires, and I pray that you all will also give her the needed support. If you ever need any advice or need my collaboration, please don’t hesitate to call me. I will be glad to give you as much support as you require.”

Highlighting her legacies while in office, the Twon Brass Queen said she created a slogan and an anthem for the organization, instituted a constitution and registered the organization in the state as a social and developmental organization.

According to her, she enlarged the organization from only first-class to include other classifications, giving every Royal home recognition in the organization, instituted a financial system, dress code that befits Royalty and held seminars and conferences that taught the Queen ethical behaviour, trade, self-esteem, self-reliance, public conduct, harnessing peaceful domains, supporting women and children development.

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The Royal Queen further noted that she created government recognition for the organization, gave widowed queens a pride of place by retaining their recognition in the organization, supported Queens that needed legal, financial, and social help, free and gave some disadvantaged children from their domains free scholarship to study in her school.

She instituted and formed the Niger Delta Royal Queens Initiative, where she is presently the pioneer President and caters for widows and the physically challenged through her foundation and office.

In a goodwill message, Secretary BSTWA, HRM Queen Okpoitari Diongoli, said the Royal Queens feel so bad that Queen Josephine is stepping aside, adding that they know the great impact she has created in their lives.

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“We are grateful for your support, showcasing us as royal queens of Bayelsa State. Your coming on board made the state government recognize the Queens. Ordinary, before now, the queens are never invited to State events and programs, except they attend with their husbands, their King. But today, the reality is different, as the Queens are now rightly recognized.

The Queen of Ikianbiri in the Bomo Kingdom, HRH, Dr Justina Lere Zalakoro, noted that Queen Josephine is a woman that wants every other person to have the knowledge she has and appealed to her to always guide the new Chairperson on areas she may miss.

She said, “We pray that you stay much longer, but it is not within our reach to say so. You carried us along; you exposed us. Those of us that were in the Creeks without anybody knowing us, you brought us out, and today, we are recognized in the state.

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“We have made many friends outside the state. Especially me, I have up to five queens from other states as friends. It is your doing. The ideas you brought, the knowledge you gave us, we shall continue with it and learn from you.”

In her speech, the Queen of Anyama, Ogbia Community, HRH Queen Pat Agala, said that all the good works Queen Josephine had done for the Royal Queens of Bayelsa State cannot be overemphasized, adding that God is lifting her higher as she is leaving as the Chairperson.

“We appreciate you for making us to feel like somebody in the society, for making our husbands to love us the more. These days, our husbands are no more going out with friends because you brought us out; you made us to know our rights, teaching us how to dress, personal conduct, and how to speak in public.

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“You never segregated anybody; you never discriminated against anybody. You didn’t look at our status, but you loved us. You believed in us; you worked with us”, she added.

Also, the Queen of Gbarain kingdom, HRM Queen Faye Frank Okiakpe, said that Queen Josephine had been a good chairperson who made herself available for the queens to have access to and has treated everyone equally.

“I know with the testimonies of her works, she will be a great leader to the whole Niger Delta, and I know she will do well, she emphasised.”

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