Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said a nation would be measured ultimately by how it treated its most vulnerable citizens.
Osinbajo expressed this view in his special address at the At-Risk-Children Programme(ARC-P) Summit on Thursday at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
He said that in 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari made two crucial policy statements — first was the plan of government to lift a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.
The vice president said that the second was the strict enforcement of the laws on free and compulsory education for all children at the primary level.
“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 SGBV Response Teams across the country.’’
Osinbajo said that in 2021, on the advice of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, the president inaugurated the National Poverty Reduction (NPRGS) Committee.
He said that the omnibus term of reference of the committee was implementing any other effort that would enhance attainment of the objective of lifting 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years.
“So the At-Risk-Children Programme ARC-P, domiciled in my office, is one of the independent initiatives of the NPRGS 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 among other skills.
“At the heart of the At Risk Children Programme is the idea that every Nigerian child counts.
“A nation will be measured ultimately by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens; we recognise 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 fulfill their potential,’’ he said.
According to him, 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.
He commended state governors who had so far signed up for the ARC-P particularly the governors of the pilot states, Borno, Sokoto, Gombe, Kaduna and Ekiti.
He said that the Federal Government would continue to provide the leadership, support, finance and logistics needed to ensure that this Programme achieves its goals.
On his part, Gov. Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State, shared the state’s experience being the first state in the federation and the pilot carrying the implementation of the programme.
He congratulated the Office of the Vice President for the ingenious initiative.
He said that, though, Gombe state was not the epicentre of the Boko Haram conflict, its geographical location, in the centre of the North-East that shared boundary with all other five states, had made it a nerve-shock absorber.
The governor said that schools, health and social care facilities had borne the pressure which necessitated efforts to provide for the educational, health and other needs of the large number of vulnerable children and youths.
Mrs Mariam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, said that the ARC-P was aimed at improving the overall well being of young, marginalised Nigerians under the age of 24.
She said focus would be on Almajiri, out-of-school children, girls at work and adolescent girls in marriage, among other vulnerable children.
Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, and Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa States, alongside members of the Federal Executive Council, members of National Assembly, members of the diplomatic corps, development partners, among others, also attended the summit.