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Stakeholders Launch Social Accountability Toolkit for Structural SGBV Intervention




By Prosper Okoye

Stakeholders in the battle against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) have unveiled a social accountability (SAC) toolkit and mentoring manual to facilitate a structural approach to SGBV interventions in Nigeria.

During the launch on Monday, Yemisi Nathaniel, Senior Executive Programs Coordinator at Women’s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA), informed journalists that grassroots organizations from FCT, Adamawa, and Sokoto states, gathered through the Spotlight Initiative pillar partnership, would utilize the toolkit as a guide for advocacy and accountability mechanisms in their respective communities.

Angela Muruli, the Technical Coherence Officer of United Nations Women, shared a goodwill message expressing her joy and pride.

She stated that the project, spearheaded by WRAPA, has finally come to fruition.

“UN Women, through their EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, is delighted to have partnered with WRAPA for the past four years on this flagship program. In 2017, the EU recognized that ending violence against women and girls is crucial for sustainable development. Consequently, they launched an ambitious grant of nearly 500 million Euros, the largest funding ever provided by a global entity to address violence against women and girls. UN Women and the UN country teams were entrusted with rolling out the EU Spotlight Initiative project.

“Thus, we embarked on the Spotlight Initiative with six main outcome areas, which many of you are familiar with. These areas include legislation, strengthening institutions, prevention services, data, and, of course, the women’s movement, which WRAPA has championed beautifully.

“The Spotlight Initiative has achieved significant milestones, such as the passage of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAAP) Act in over 90 percent of the states in Nigeria. More recently, we successfully advocated for the passage of the sexual harassment bill, and I want to applaud WRAPA for this achievement. We have also championed the establishment of one-stop centers and galvanized a strong women’s movement, instrumental in driving the passage of gender bills, as witnessed in March last year in the National Assembly.

“I have had the privilege of getting a sneak peek into the toolkit. For those who haven’t seen it yet, let me assure you it is impressive. It is rich with experiences and serves as a practical tool to empower all of us in this room to champion the cause established by your esteemed organization…” Angela, who represented Ms. Beatrice Eyong, UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, conveyed to the audience.

Furthermore, stakeholders, while sharing their success stories on the project, expressed frustrations encountered during the interventions. One of their primary complaints was the attitude of the Nigerian Police Force when a case is reported to them.

“Whenever you report a case, they expect you to pay for a pen, files, transportation for the victim, the accused, and even for the police officer handling the case. You have to foot practically every expense, and this discourages us and most of the victims from pursuing justice,” lamented Farah James of ASWHAM, Adamawa State.

Afam Kasim of TAF Africa, representing the organization’s Director, Jake Epelle, advised that increased advocacy could help address most of the challenges.

“Identifying the individuals who can bring about change in the areas you are working in can be helpful. I remember around 2015 or thereabouts, individuals with Albinism were dying in the national hospital due to skin cancer, and we were seeking funding. We identified that there was something known as a service-wide vote, so we approached Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as an organization. These are Nigerians; they did not develop skin cancer by choice but rather due to the unique nature of their skin. When we presented our case to her, she had no reason but to release 17 million Naira to the National Hospital, all because we knew whom to approach,” he said.

However, Daniel Johnson of the African Youth Union Commission raised concerns about the significant reduction in recent budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Women Affairs, an agency of the government tasked with intervening in cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) affecting women and girls.

“Our organization conducted a fact-finding mission at the National Assembly to assess the readiness of the budget, particularly the gender-responsive bill and other issues concerning women and girls. To our shock, the 2022 budget for the Ministry of Women Affairs was approximately 35 billion Naira. However, in 2023, it was reduced to 17.1 billion Naira, representing a reduction of about 54 percent. We have been urging them to explain the reason for this cut. Does it imply that women do not face any problems? Moreover, this has also impacted the allocation for SGBV interventions,” he stated.

Kaneng Rwang-Pam, SAC Toolkit Design Consultant, emphasized the comprehensiveness of the kit in addressing practical issues that may arise in the field. She encouraged participants to have an open mind and adapt the solutions provided in the book to overcome their specific challenges.

“The Social Accountability Toolkit is dedicated to achieving tangible results. It involves engaging critical stakeholders who make decisions that propel our communities forward. The toolkit comprises mechanisms and strategies for gathering information and involving stakeholders to advance gender equality, eliminate discrimination against women and girls, and end violence in all its forms.

“Furthermore, the toolkit is versatile and can be applied in various contexts. In this particular instance, it supports efforts to end violence against women and girls, which aligns with SDG 5 as the primary target.

“In essence, it strives to achieve equity in our homes, communities, states, and nation at all levels, encompassing the fair distribution of state resources. This impacts sectors such as health, education, agriculture, and every aspect of the daily lives of women and girls in Nigeria.

“The toolkit includes a case study that highlights the negative impact on women’s lives in a specific community where a lack of accessible healthcare centers forces them to travel long distances. Pregnant women, for example, face complications and higher mortality rates. Advocacy efforts were undertaken to address this issue and find a solution.

“In another case, a particular local government failed to allocate sufficient resources, unaware of the need for increased funding for a primary health center to ensure community members, especially women, can access quality healthcare. The toolkit provides practical methods to facilitate such changes and more,” she explained in an interview with DAILY ASSET.

Additionally, Precious Anslem, FCT WRAPA Spotlight Initiative Project Officer, encouraged participants to assess their progress through regression analysis and realize the significant achievements made. Therefore, he urged them not to lose faith in their cause due to challenges.

“While you may have set out to achieve five things, even accomplishing one is progress,” he said.

Chief Dauda Dogo of Karomajigi community in Abuja, the Chief Launcher of the toolkit, issued a resounding call for increased collaboration in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence targeting women and girls. He passionately urges both the government and society to actively promote and utilize the tool.


Benue Born Medical Doctor Breaks Uncommon Grounds in Literature




By David Torough, Abuja 

A Benue born Medical Doctor and a writer, Dr Mark Ogbodo, has broken uncommon grounds in literature as his third Novella, “Untold”, has been certified and approved by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), as a general reading material.

In a letter, the Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof.

Ismail Junaidu, stated that the book, Untold, has been assessed by NERDC and found useful, and therefore, “it is recommended as a general reading material”.

The approval made it the second approval of Dr Ogbodo’s books, as the first Novella, “Amour Maternel”, was also approved by NERDC as a supplementary reader for all JSS 2 classes in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Fellow, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) who is also the immediate past Deputy Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Lafia (FULafia), Professor Idris Amali, has congratulated Dr. Ogbodo for his successful outing in another literary work.

“This is an important achievement to be on a national reading list. This is creativity with a purpose with immediate impact. 

“The concept well held for many years that there is no money in literary creativity is becoming a thing of the past and the era of milking the author without replenishing the milk is no longer tenable in the 21st Century. 

“Thus, the exploitation of the third world creative writers by the west is mellowing down. The Nigerian writers can today pursue his copyright issues to a gainful and logical end. 

“This position therefore makes  Dr. Mick Ogbodo, a potential instant  millionaire from the sales of his latest outing which has been placed on a national reading list of schools nationwide. This is a great feat.

“This situation should spur you to write more specific literary creativity  that targets such an audience which would attract a national audience for a specific purpose like the one you have written.

“Let me therefore congratulate you for this achievement. Manage the success well,” Prof. Amali stated.

Ogbodo who is the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Medical Association, Benue State Branch is also the Chairman, Publication Committee, Nigerian Medical Association, Benue State Branch as well as the Secretary, Association of Nigerian Authors, Benue State Chapter.

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Tinubu Approves Implementation Of Oronsaye Report, To Merge Agencies




President Bola Tinubu has ordered the full implementation of the Oronsaye report.⁣

⁣Consequently, it announced the merging, subsuming, scraping and relocation of several agencies of government. ⁣

⁣The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, revealed this to State House Correspondents after Monday’s Federal Executive Council meeting at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

“So in a very bold move today, this administration, under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, consistent again with his courage to take very far-reaching decisions in the interest of Nigeria, has taken a decision to implement the so-called Oronsaye Report.

⁣“Now, what that means is that a number of agencies, commissions, and some departments have actually been scrapped. Some have been modified, and marked while others have been subsumed. Others, of course, have also been moved from some ministries to others where the government feels they will operate better,” said Idris. ⁣

⁣Consequently, the President constituted a committee to implement the mergers, scrapping and relocations within 12 weeks, said Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Policy Coordination, Mrs Hadiza Bala-Usman. ⁣

⁣Submitted in 2012, the Oronsaye report on public sector reforms revealed that there are 541 — statutory and non-statutory —Federal Government parastatals, commissions, and agencies.⁣

⁣A year earlier, the then President Goodluck Jonathan had set up the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies, under the leadership of former Head of Civil Service, Stephen Oronsaye.⁣

The 800-page report recommended that 263 of the statutory agencies be slashed to 161; 38 agencies be scrapped; 52 be merged and 14 be reverted to departments in various ministries.⁣

The report also recommends that the law establishing the National Salaries and Wages Commission be repealed and its functions taken over by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Responsibility Commission.⁣

⁣It advised the FG to merge the nation’s top three anti-corruption agencies—the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission and the Code of Conduct Bureau.⁣

More details shortly… ⁣

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How SOAR Initiative is Changing SGBV Narratives in Abuja Community




Pigba Kasa community in Apo District, Abuja, says the intervention of Sexual Offences Awareness and Victims Rehabilitation Initiative (SOAR Initiative), an NGO, is changing the narratives on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the community.

The community members stated this during the graduation of beneficiaries of the NGO’s ‘Right to be a Girl’s Project’ in the community on Monday.

Reports says that the project, a nine-month intervention, is being supported by Mundo Cooparente, a Spanish humanitarian aid organisation.

The project is designed to empower 240 vulnerable adolescent girls from ages 10 to 16 with the right information and life-skills to protect themselves from violations, improve their ability to speak out against SGBV and forced marriage.

The Chief of Pigba Kasa community, Ayuba Kulobi, described the project as a game changer in addressing the challenges of SGBV in the community.

Kulobi said that prior to the project, the incidence of SGBV was high,but now on a downward trend due the  NGO’s intervention.

He particularly said that the Right to be a Girl’s Project has empowered adolescent girls with the needed information on how to protect their rights and seek redress when violated.

He added that the NGO helped the community to set up a Community Protection Committee (CPC) centre, where community members meet monthly to share ideas and advise families on how to address SGBV.

“More so, we now have access to the police, and we can call them anytime we have issues of SGBV. Gladly, the police intervened promptly and made arrests.

“Due to these interventions, we now hardly record cases of SGBV in our community,” he said.

The Deputy Chairperson of CPC in the community, Ms Christiana Manji, said the community members were now speaking out courtesy of the project.

“Hidden issues are now being exposed because people now know their rights and can seek redress,” she said.

Similarly, the committee’s secretary, Mr Ibrahim Idris, said that several persons have been arrested over alleged domestic and sexual abuse.

Some of the beneficiaries of the project thanked SOAR Initiative for the gesture, saying it broadened their knowledge on the rights of the girl-child among others.

One of them, a 13-year-old Jessica George, said she now knows a lot about sexual abuse, dangers of early marriage and self-esteem.

The story was the same for Mary Ayuba, a 10-year-old, who said that the project has empowered her to defend herself against SGBV.

“I am so empowered that I can now help other girls to overcome SGBV and enlighten them on how to seek help,” the girl said.

The Youth Advocate of the NGO, Miss Lolade Ipele, expressed satisfaction on how the adolescent girls embrace the 12-week project.

“I saw them grow from timid girls to intelligent girls with confidence to face the future,” Ipele said.

The Project Officer, Mr Yakubu Levi, said that the project was implemented in two communities – Chafuyi and Pigba Kasa, leveraging four public schools serving the communities.

Levi said that the girls were trained on safe spaces and other life skills, including access to case management, psycho-social counseling, and legal-aid services.

For sustainability, the project officer said that the NGO would support the establishment of a girls’ club in the four benefiting schools in collaboration with FCT Education Secretariat. (NAN)

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