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SPECIAL REPORT: Impact of GEP 3 in reducing girls hawking in Sokoto

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One of the major obstacles affecting girl-child education in Sokoto state is street hawking by children of school age.

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In this report, FRANCESCA IWAMBE took a clinical examination of how the Girls Education Project (GEP), introduced by the United Nations Children’s Fund has helped in retaining girls in school

It was exactly 10:15am in Shagari Local Government Area of Sokoto State when this reporter entered Magaji Rufa’I Islamiyya School Shagari, Sokoto State.

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At the entrance of the school, a 14 -year old Amina Shehu (not real name) was sighted hawking food around the school premises.

She told this reporter that she hawk the food in the morning before resuming to school every day to support her 30 year old mother, Hannatu Mohammed who is also into petty trade.

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Amina Shehu who is the 4th out of 12 children said; “I only do this hawking business in the morning and join them in school every day.

I was not going to school before now but one day, I decided to follow the children who were already in school. I sat down with them in one class. That was was how it started for me.

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“I want to become a teacher in future like my mentor Hajara”, she said.

Another student at Sheik Tujjani Integrated quaranic School, Shagari Ainan Abdulahi said, she was a food vendor for several years but that the story changed after the intervention of the United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) Girls Education Programme 3, GEP3.

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According to her, the mentors of the program trained by the UN body put her through some lectures after talking to her parents on the risks involved in street hawking.

She said that after listening to them, she realised the risks involved and has stop food hawking since she got enrolled in the school.

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She said, ‘’Before I got enrolled in the School `program, I used to hawk food on the street. To me; people that were enrolled in the school were just wasting their time but all that changed after a mentor in the school approached me and gave me reasons why I should be in school.

‘’With the training and enlightenment from the school, I have changed my mind and now concentrate on my studies”, the 7 year old Abdulahi said.

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Kulu Modi, one of the mentors in Gusawa Primary School who was specially trained for the GEP3 program confirmed that before the training; they usually go out in search of the girls but that the story is different today because the girls come to school by themselves.

She said, ‘’before the program, we usually go in search of the girls because they were used to the street hawking business. Some, we went through their parents while we lured some with gift items. The story is however different today as they come voluntarily.

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‘’There was a day a girl walked up to me and told me she want to be like me. I went to her parents to talk to them and they later enrolled her to the school’’.
What is Girls Education Project (GEP)

GEP3 is a long term project that commenced in 2012. The program which is expected to end on September 30, 2022 seeks to improve school access, retention and learning outcomes for girls in 5 northern Nigerian states.

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Between 2014 and 2017 the project was piloting a series of interventions in primary schools and Integrated Qur’anic schools (IQS). Those most effective in improving education outcomes for girls will be scaled up.

In Sokoto State a total of 418,614 girls (44%) were enrolled since 2012 in GEP3 supported schools, while in Zamfara the girls enrolled were 545,711 (62%).

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According to UNICEF Chief of Field Office, Dr. Maryam Darwesh Said, since the introduction of GEP3 in 2012, FCDO has at least, donated about $109,196, 039.80 to support girls education in the six Northern states in Nigeria.

She listed the six states benefiting from the GEP3 supported schools to include; Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kano.

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Explaining further on the progress recorded in Sokoto and Zamfara, she said in Sokoto 5,943 had their capacity built through the project, adding that 486 were female teachers.

In Zamfara, she explained that the number of teachers whose capacity and skills were enhanced through GEP3 were 5,650 of which 295 are females.

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In Sokoto 880 (53 females) Integrated Quranic Schools (IQS) facilitators were trained, while in Zamfara the number is 400 (39 female).

“To support efficient and effective governance in Primary Schools and Integrated Qur’anic schools, 13,094 management committee members (of which 5,353 are women) underwent relevant capacity development trainings in Sokoto and Zamfara respectively.

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“These are only a few examples of how GEP3 has contributed to maximise the benefit that young girls and boys can reap from the education system in their path towards mastering foundational literacy and numeracy skills,” she said.

While emphasizing the need to improve investment on education in Nigeria, Said called on the states to ensure full implementation of the sustainability of the GEP3 plan.

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“I urge you to take the opportunity of the soon to start 2023 budgeting process to capture the required state funding contributions for UNICEF supported interventions and to provide strategic state resources for the sustainability to all gains obtained so far in the education sector from GEP3 and by and large from the partnership with UNICEF,” she said.

Also, Education Manager, UNICEF Field Office, Sokoto, Miriam Mareso who spoke on why educating girls is important’, said limited educational opportunities for girls and barriers to completing 1+ 12years of education cost countries between US$15 trillion and $30 trillion in lost lifetime productivity and earnings, saying that addressing all these factors could help lift households, communities, and countries out of poverty.

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Quoting the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, MICS, 2017 and Demographic Health Survey, DHS, 2018, she said, ” A poor girl born in northern Nigeria faces daunting challenges throughout her life.

She has a 55% chance of being stunted in early childhood and more than a 10% chance of dying, mainly from preventable disease before she reaches the age of five.

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If she survives to her school-age years, she will have, on average, less than a 50% chance of enrolling in primary school and less than a 30% chance of transiting to secondary school if the girl comes from a rural community or from a poor household, she is doubly disadvantaged.

A girl from the poorest wealth quintile has a 24% chance of enrolling in primary school and only a 9% chance of enrolling in secondary compared to an 87% chance and 79% chance, respectively, for girls in the South-South region.”

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On GEP3, Mareso expressed joy that over 1.3 million girls have been enrolled in primary and Integrated Quranic Schools, IQS, which according to her, exceeded the targeted 1million girls in the six states since 2012.

Also, the Executive Chairman Sokoto SUBEB, Rt. Hon Altine Shehu kajiji appreciated FCDO, UNICEF for the support so far, saying that the importance of educating girls cannot be over emphasized as it brings changes and provides a better society.

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According to Kajiji, a family that raises a girl child will tend to be self- reliance.

He pledged Sokoto government’s continued commitment to improve girls enrolment and full implementation of GEP3 Sustainability plan.

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After 138 days: Journalist detained for allegedly exposing Ogun state Gov, finally released

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Prince Olamilekan Hammed, blogger and publisher of Eagles Foresight has been released on bail after spending 138 days in detention.

His lawyer, Habeeb Whyte, confirmed his release to The PUNCH in a phone conversation.

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“Yes, he has been released. The case was struck out,” he said.

The journalist was detained by the DSS, also known as the State Security Service (SSS), on the orders of Dapo Abiodun.

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According to his lawyer, he was invited by the agency over a report he published exposing the criminal activities of Abiodun.

The Ogun State Command of the State Security Service (SSS) has arrested and detained blogger and publisher of eaglesforesight.com.ng, Prince Olamilekan Hammed (Lahbash) for reasons yet to be disclosed,” the lawyer had said in a statement.

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However, it was reported that Ogun State Government denied Governor Abiodun’s involvement in the blogger’s arrest and detention.

He was detained for publishing a story relating to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun’s credit card fraud in the United States of America.

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It was gathered that Hammed, who appeared before the Federal High Court 1, Abeokuta, the Ogun State Capital, was released on Tuesday.

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Confusion as Court nullifies all PDP primaries in Ogun elections

governorship, Osun, campaign
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* Bars INEC from recognising
as governorship candidate

*Orders another primary in 14 days

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By Francesca Iwambe

A Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, on has nullified all the primary elections conducted by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in choosing candidates for the 2023 general elections in the State.

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The presiding judge, Justice O. O Oguntoyinbo in his judgement ordered the party to conduct another primaries within the next 14 days.

The court also barred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Hon. Ladi Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.

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The party had on May 25 conducted the primary election which produced Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party.

But three members of the party, Taiwo Olabode Idris, Kehinde Akala and Alhaji Ayinde Monsuri had dragged the party, Ladi Adebutu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court challenging the authenticity of the delegates’ lists used for the conduct of the primaries.

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The plaintiffs argued, the persons on delegates’ list used by electoral panel for the primaries were not democratically elected at the ward, local government and state congresses, hence the panel “cannot unilaterally or arbitrarily impose” the list on the party for the primaries.

The plaintiffs in their originating summons, had prayed the court among others to nullify or set aside the state congress/indirect primary election, held by the 1st defendant (PDP) on 25th of May, 2022 “for the purpose of choosing the candidate which the 1st Defendant intends to nominate/sponsor at the 2023 Governorship election in Ogun State based on the list of delegates who were not democratically elected at the ward congress.”

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They also sought an order directing the 2nd Defendant (INEC) “to disregard and/or refrain from giving effect to the results of the alleged 1st Defendant’s indirect primary election held on the 25th of May, 2022 based on the list of ad-hoc delegates who were not elected at the ward congresses constituted by the 1st Defendant for that purpose”.

Reacting to the judgement, Counsel to the plaintiffs, Thaddeus Idenyi said, the court nullified the election “because it was conducted using a list of ad-hoc delegates who were not elected.

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“The implication of the judgement is obvious, the PDP will have to put their house together and then conduct a fresh primary as ordered by the court.

“This time around, the court was specific that they have to use the list that has been certified by INEC because after the primary, those lists were submitted to INEC as parts of its report of covering those ward congresses held, so the court has now said that is the list which must be considered in the conduct of the fresh primaries, so the PDP had to just put their house together and use those lists to conduct a fresh primary.”

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The Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Akinloye Bankole said, the party would study the judgement before any action is taken.

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Jubilation in Rivers as Wike receives aircraft abandoned in Germany

Wike
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By Francesca Iwambe

There was Jubilation in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Tuesday as governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, said the recovery and eventual return of an asset of the State, Legacy 600 Aircraft, was a reality and not mere politics.

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The governor had earlier on Tuesday morning returned to Nigeria from London, where he had traveled to for an undisclosed reason, along with his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom.

Wike spoke after receiving the Legacy 600 aircraft that touched down on Tuesday at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa in Ikwerre local government area of the State.

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He explained that it took intelligence report for his administration to discover such asset, owned by the state government.

“The immediate past administration flew the aircraft to far away Germany, without any record of it made available to his administration.

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“To the glory of God, the plane is back and Rivers people can see, Nigerians can see. It is not that we are playing politics. All we are saying, we never knew, nobody told us until we got intelligence that we have this asset somewhere”, he said.

Wike recalled that the Legacy 600 Aircraft was purchased by the Dr. Peter Odili-led administration to serve the interest of Rivers people, but was abandoned with the General Atomics Aerotec in Munich, Germany by the Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi-led administration since 2012.

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The governor said: “What is very important to all of us here today is that when we came into power in 2015, nobody handed over any report or gave us handover note to let us know where such asset of the State was, only for us to hear in 2019 that this asset is somewhere.”

He said that because air transportation is a more technical area, great care was taken to put the Legacy 600 Aircraft into its best form to undertake air travel effectively.

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Wike stated that so much money was expended by the state government on the aircraft, money that would have gone into other development projects if his administration had known of the Aircraft quite early.

“In fixing the aircraft, certificate of air worthiness issued by the Nigerian government, was secured for the aircraft to return to Nigeria.

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“Of course, we did everything we could do and we told Nigerians that by the grace of God we will not allow this asset to go that way. We must return it for the people of the State to decide what they are going to do with it.

“I am so elated that at the end of the day, all of our struggles are not in vain. I thank Rivers people for the support. I thank the Rivers State House of Assembly for the support. I thank the Executive for the support.

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“But for their support, it would not have been possible to spend the money we spent. If you hear the money we spent, it’s money that would have been put in other development projects if we were told on time of it.”

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